WFSE Mourns the Loss of Gerry Fidler

Gerry Fidler was a true believer in public service.

Because he also believed that empowered political expression was one of the most powerful tools available to union members, Gerry dedicated his considerable talents to the AFSCME Political Action Department for 20 years.

He served AFSCME members across the country and made a real and lasting impact on the labor movement, working families, and countless WFSE staff and members.

Gerry first came to Washington state in 2008 to assist with and learn from WFSE’s Conservative Caucus, a first-of-its-kind working group that had been established by WFSE members in 2005 and quickly achieved bipartisan support for and passage of crucial legislation.

With Gerry’s guidance and help with messaging, the Conservative Caucus became a model for other councils, affiliates, and locals and even changed the way AFSCME International viewed and talked about politics.

The central point was that being a union member (or being a union-friendly politician) shouldn’t be about whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, but whether you are pro-labor or pro-corporate.

Gerry Fidler with Tim Hughes

“On the surface, it appeared we were worlds apart with our politics.”

“Gerry Fidler meant a lot to me as a working-class person and a human,” said Alice Rogers, a corrections specialist and Conservative Caucus member. “I held him in the highest regard.

“On the surface, it appeared we were worlds apart with our politics. I was very conservative. He was considerably less conservative… After I got to know him, however, I found that we were not so far apart after all.

“Gerry really understood the needs of the members and was committed to helping us, the conservatives in AFSCME, find our voice and make it known that our voices were equal and important. Gerry helped us craft our message. He helped us convince the union to conduct polling. He helped us change the way the union talked to all its members. It was a move toward inclusion. The result of this inclusion turned out to be an amazing organizing tool.

 “I was so sorry to hear of his passing and will miss him. Rest easy my friend. I pray for you and your family.”

“He was always—ALWAYS—true to members. All who knew him knew his word was bond.”

Those who worked with Gerry agree that his temperament, patience, and dedication to working with members of all political backgrounds are needed more now than ever.

 “Especially now, losing his presence, his depth of knowledge, his experience, and his ability to bring the ends to the center is going to negatively impact us all,” said Jon Oglesby, a community corrections officer who worked with Gerry as a member of the Conservative Caucus.

“He was always welcoming, responsive, supportive of members and the mission, and balanced,” Jon said. “He made you feel like you were a part of the mission no matter what your political views were. It’s a true loss not only to the organization but to the community. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”

As a political mind and a tireless advocate for members of all political backgrounds, Gerry was unmatched.

WFSE Lobbyist Matt Zuvich recalled, “Gerry was a political warhorse that was assigned to the toughest races in the nation and never flinched. Gerry traveled a million miles, literally, across the country engaging, training, and advising members. He was always—ALWAYS—true to members. All who knew him knew his word was bond."

An advocate for public service in all its forms, Gerry was out in the community volunteering when he wasn’t serving members.

As the president of his local homeowner's association, Gerry invited firefighters to the neighborhood and encouraged people to interact with and engage public servants.  

On Veterans Day, he and his wife Melissa would travel to Washington, D.C. to wash the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Gerry and his wife Melissa washing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

National Night Out, which promotes police-community understanding and relationship-building by inviting police officers into communities for block parties, cookouts, and other events, was very important to Gerry and he was an active participant in local events.

While supporting AFSCME members in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he adopted a dog, Poochie, that had been displaced by the storm.

Most recently, Gerry was trained and certified to conduct COVID-19 testing and volunteered for the Loudoun Medical Reserve Corp to fight the pandemic in his community.

Gerry at a COVID-19 testing site

“If he wasn’t working for AFSCME, he probably could have been a chef.”

No story about Gerry would be complete without mentioning his love for cooking and food. He understood instinctively that both were a way to bring people together.

Jon Oglesby remembers (and was jealous of) Gerry’s cooking abilities: “If he wasn’t working for AFSCME, he probably could have been a chef.”

Matt Zuvich fondly remembers Gerry taking him to the best delis in town whenever he visited Washington, D.C. When Gerry came to Seattle, he would buy a huge fish from Pike Place Fish Market, ship it to himself in Virginia for a few hundred dollars, and cook it up for everyone back home.

If you are able, we ask that you help support Gerry’s family in this difficult time

Meal Train for the Fidler Family

The Fidler Family Fund