The Measure of a Man: Labor Leader Thomas P. Giblin


A collaborative authorship of State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech, Secretary Treasurer Laurel Brennan and Democratic State Committeeman Tom Barrett, the following is a tribute given to retiring Assemblyman Tom Giblin at this week’s NJ State AFL-CIO Legislative Conference in Atlantic City:

On this occasion, we honor one of the lions in our ranks: Tom Giblin, Business Manager of Local 68, the flagship Local of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) and Executive Board member of our State AFL-CIO.

We are proud to honor our union brother, he who is oftentimes a mentor and at all times a stalwart and loyal friend.

While doing so, we ask a simple yet profound question: just how do you measure the merits of a man like Tom Giblin?

Our good fortune is shared knowing we offer this tribute to a man whose extraordinary career spans decades of public service as a labor leader, as a member of the State Legislature and as one of its committee chairmen, as a government and political party office holder, and as a member of various social service and charitable Trustee Boards.

He is an ardent supporter of services for veterans, of which he is one, of charitable causes too numerous to mention, civil rights, scholarships for high school and college bound students and for most everyone else who is disadvantaged and in need of help.

Tom Giblin always has a purpose to his dedication, whether within the ranks of labor or in the political arena. His leadership roles are not transactional. They are transformative.

He is as comfortable tending to the homeless as he is to the homebound. His legacy is indelibly marked by his strength, his integrity and compassion for others.

“Tom Giblin’s legacy is indelibly marked by his strength, his integrity and compassion for others.”

He delivers food to the hungry, offers personal funds to help bury the deceased. His numerous and random acts of kindness, all of which are done selflessly, are, more often than not, also done anonymously.

Trained by his father, he learned at an early age to view public service as an opportunity, not for himself but for the benefit of others. With a front row seat in tumultuous times, Tom Giblin dedicated himself to doing so much for so many.

So, just how do we measure the merits of Tom Giblin while honoring him as we now do? Do we do so by acknowledging his life-long commitment to all those less fortunate who have benefitted from his generous spirit? Do we acknowledge by accolade his many positions or titles earned?

We think not. His retirement from the political arena at year’s end means he will be singled out and saluted as a leader among the men and women of his legislative chamber befitting his standing and stature.

But, the thought of Tom Giblin standing down from his duties in the legislature foretells a sense of loss. After all, it is we who have stood on his strong shoulders.

Tom Giblin supported us and elevated us, always when we needed him most. For that alone he needs to be held in our highest esteem. So, we strive to measure the merits of this exceptional man, a labor man, a family man, a political leader, a proud Irishman and singer of songs, by what he has given to all of us.

The merit of his extraordinary life is actually the light in a student’s eyes rewarded by his generosity, of a thankful job holder, of a tear in the eye of a grateful parent whose child, because of the generous aid of Tom Giblin, was successfully treated for a life-threatening illness, and now has a life to live.

His merits are the often-expressed respect he has with his rank and file. It’s the joy of listening to him sing ballads of long ago wars in his heritage homeland. It’s the firm handshake of every man and woman who knows Tom Giblin and knows that his word is good.

Therefore, on this occasion, the delegates of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO 2023’s Legislative Conference do hereby honor our brother and colleague for his service to all of us, to his community, to his state and to his country.

The labor movement gratefully acknowledges and recognizes Tom Giblin for all that he means to us and for all that he has done for so many.

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6 responses to “The Measure of a Man: Labor Leader Thomas P. Giblin”

  1. Tom congratulations. You are a great man. One of a kind. A giant. Good luck. Bill Egan III

  2. Once had him as a legislator. Guy never responded to my letters. Only time he did was when I told a friend that knew him. To be fair though, there are many other NJ state legislators that didnt respond nack to my letters as well. Once saw him in person to say hi. He responded back with a hi but it didnt seem too friendly. He may have done nice charity and legislation. But he didnt seem like a friendly person to me.

  3. Congratulations Tom. You are a true friend of Labor and many hold you in high regard.
    I am honored to say that you mentored me when I became a member of Kearny’s Council 27 years ago.
    Thank you for your service and all good wishes as your continue your life journey.

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