It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Francis (Frank) A. Forst, a distinguished labor leader and longtime officer of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO’s Executive Board, who died Sunday at age 84.
Frank was a lifelong advocate for social and economic justice who spent his career championing issues on behalf of all working-class people. He was a leading voice supporting laws giving public employees the right to bargain, and was responsible for Local 194 being the first in the nation to see Martin Luther King Day become a contractually recognized holiday.
Frank was an organizer for the American Federation of Technical Engineers, which later became the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers. He was instrumental in organizing workers on all three of New Jersey’s toll roads, as well as New Jersey state highway workers. He spent most of his career representing New Jersey Turnpike workers. Most recently, he served as assistant to the president of Local 194 and as secretary-treasurer and business manager of Local 194A, representing workers at the Burlington Bristol Bridge Commission. He was a vice president of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO for 35 years.
Among his numerous labor accomplishments, he helped separate the Public Employees Retirement System from Social Security, making it possible for workers to receive both. He also pushed to allow unions to collect dues and political action funds through a voluntary dues check-off, and helped public workers receive premium pay for overtime work.
He was one of the first commissioners on the Public Employee Relations Commission. He was a former Democratic State Committee and Middlesex County Committee member. He is a veteran of the Korean War and a member of the American Legion. He was a former member of the A. Philip Randolph Institute and the NAACP.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to Frank’s family, especially his daughter, Franceline Ehret, staff representative at Communications Workers of America and past president of IFPTE Local 194 and New Jersey Turnpike Authority.
Visitation will be 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Wednesday April 15, and 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Thursday, April 16, at Lester Memorial Home, 16 W. Church St., Jamesburg, NJ 08831. A Funeral Mass will be 11:00 a.m. Thursday, April 16th, at St. James Church, 36 Lincoln Ave. Local 194 will hold a memorial service later this month to commemorate Frank’s service to the labor movement.
The family requests donations in lieu of flowers be made to “The Joseph E. Hopkins Memorial Leadership Training Fund,” and sent to Local 194, IFPTE, AFL-CIO CLC, P.O. Box 790, Milltown, NJ, 08850.
Rest well Brother Forst.