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At 99, ‘Uncle Milton’ a Rhode Island Treasure

by Kevin Zapf Hanes  |  March 23, 2016

Rhode Island retirees honored Milton Bronstein, Chapter 94 vice president, who at 99 is believed to be the oldest elected officer in AFSCME’s history.

For 30 years, Bronstein worked in the Rhode Island Department of Treasury. As an active member and leader, he led the charge to organize Rhode Island workers, strengthened their voice politically and led Council 94 as its first president. When he retired, he became active in the retiree chapter, serving as vice president until last month.

“We believe – but can’t be for certain because the records don’t exist – that Uncle Milton, as many people call him, is the oldest elected officer to serve in any AFSCME affiliate in the history of our great organization,” said Michael Connolly, president of the retiree chapter. “For decades, he has served our members and this state with distinction and honor. The labor movement is as strong as it is because of Milton.”

During his tenure as president of Rhode Island Council 94, Bronstein oversaw the unification of AFSCME Councils 70 and 22, forming a powerful voice for workers all across the state.

“He has been an unbelievable friend and mentor to me personally throughout the years,” said J. Michael Downey, president of Council 94.

When news of Bronstein’s retirement as vice president of the retirees was announced at a recent Council 94 executive board meeting, “members of the executive board jumped up to say ‘Milton organized my local,’ a true testament of his ability to organize workers and strengthen our union in such a way that its power continued even after he retired,” Connolly said.

“Rhode Island’s labor movement today is due in large part to Milton’s unrelenting commitment to workers, families and all of Rhode Island,” Downey said. “Even though he is taking a step back, we know that we will always be able to count on his guidance, wisdom and passion to continue to empower us to never give up our fight for a better tomorrow.

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