In Honor of Edward M. Smith, Champion of Workers

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January 12, 2024

The world lost a devoted family man, loyal friend, and dedicated leader Wednesday, January 3, 2024 when Edward “Ed” M. Smith passed away.

We join countless others in expressing gratitude for his service, admiration of his generous spirit, and grief in his loss.

Ed was a beloved husband, father, and grandfather, friend to many, lifelong champion of workers’ rights, and Chairman and CEO of Ullico Inc., the nation’s only labor-owned insurance and investment company.

His inspiring vision and commitment to putting people first and taking bold action left an indelible mark on every step of his life’s journey.

That journey began in Cairo, Illinois, in a family with deep roots in the labor movement. His father was a member of the Laborers’ Local 773, which Ed joined at age 13, and his mother belonged to the machinists union. By age 21, he had stepped into his father’s decades-long role in Local 773 as business manager. It was also his father who inspired Ed’s personal mantra: “Who have I helped today?”

His unique blend of generosity, understanding of people, and natural business acumen locked in a promising trajectory for him and proved key to many of his accomplishments on behalf of workers.

Among those accomplishments, he became the first Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) member to graduate from the National Labor College; his involvement in the Harvard Trade Union Program and commitment to understanding the legislative process enhanced his ability to advocate for workers; and, while at LiUNA, just a few of his achievements include leading organizing drives that boosted Local 773’s membership by more than 1,000%, from 300 to 4,000, increasing the Midwest Region from 3 to 10 states, and – unsurprisingly – joining LiUNA’s Executive Board.

In 2008, Ed joined Ullico. While there, he launched the marketplace’s first labor-friendly infrastructure investment fund in the face of intense and vocal skepticism from critics – what became the highly successful Ullico Infrastructure Fund. As he liked to say, “It’s all about the people.”

Ed leaves an inspiring legacy through the lives he touched and his enduring achievements for workers. Ed truly was a great American.

Read Ullico’s statement: https://www.ullico.com/ullico-inc-statement-on-the-passing-of-chairman-and-ceo-edward-m-smith/

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