President Burnsky passed away on Sunday, March 29, 2020 of pneumonia. He was born on April 7, 1921, in Throop, Pennsylvania, the son of the deceased Anastasia and John Burnsky. Paul J. Burnsky was predeceased by his loving late wife Marian Ian (nee) Smith, whom he married in 1944 and is survived by 5 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
President Burnsky attended school at Academy Aeronautics, where he became a certified master mechanic in 1941 and later studied at the University of Chicago and Roosevelt University, where his leadership and community activist studies were interrupted by a two year stint in the United States Navy during the final years of World War II.
Burnsky began his career as a trade unionist in 1946, in Chicago, becoming a member of the International Association of Machinists Local Lodge 1487, where he found his calling as an advocate for workers’ rights and was elected Vice President in 1948. Brother Burnsky rose through the ranks of the IAMAW as a Special Representative, Grand Lodge Representative, Administrative Assistant to Vice President, Administrative Assistant to the President, Director of Organization and in 1971 was unanimously elected President of the Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO, where he served with distinction until his retirement in 1994.
President Burnsky led a life and career of distinction. As President of the Metal Trades Department, he was instrumental in negotiating the first drug testing policy for federal employees, and was a staunch advocate for worker safety, fighting for and achieving air contamination standards for workers in the maritime, construction and agricultural industries.
On behalf of the Metal Trades Department Executive Council, staff and Councils throughout North America, we extend our profound sympathy to the Burnsky family and pay homage to a lifetime of service to America’s working families by our dearly departed friend, brother and past President Paul J. Burnsky.