The members and staff of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania are deeply saddened at the passing of our former colleague, union sister and dear friend, Cathy Brady. She was an inspiration to us all and she will be profoundly missed by everyone whose life she touched.
Cathy was a relentless leader fighting for justice and dedicated to building strong labor and progressive movements in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania. She committed her life to fighting with and for working women and men and their families.
Cathy began her career in the labor movement in the 1980s as a striking Eastern Airlines worker, and later helped to lead her co-workers at Tosco Oil in a strike. In the late ‘90s, she joined SEIU Healthcare PA as a nursing home organizer and eventually became became a Vice President of Long Term Care, where she helped direct statewide efforts to support nursing home workers’ efforts to lift themselves out of poverty and have a voice in their workplace.
“Cathy Brady was my partner in leading the nursing home sector of our union,” said SEIU Healthcare PA President Matthew Yarnell. “I loved every minute of our time together. No matter how challenging the battle may be, we would always find a way. She was an amazing person with an incredible sense of compassion and community hardwired in her soul. She always put the needs of everyone else ahead of her own. I know that every single worker she helped find a voice and become a leader will forever be grateful to have had her in their lives.”
In her most recent career role, she worked as a federal mediator, helping workers and employers find compromise in the midst of difficult negotiations.
Cathy was a driving force in the effort to turn the park across from her home in a working-class neighborhood in southwest Philadelphia into a monument to labor. Her dream was realized in 2010 when The Labor Monument: Philadelphia’s Tribute to the American Worker transformed Elmwood Park into a community gathering space and an “outdoor history lesson.” The monument honors the radicals, women, immigrants, and workers of color who fought for a progressive and inclusive labor movement, from Eugene V. Debs and the Wobblies to the Bread and Roses strikers, Memphis sanitation workers, and Cesar Chavez.
Those of us who knew Cathy were touched by her boundless passion, spirit, and kindness.
“As far as I’m concerned, Cathy was SEIU Healthcare PA,” said Stanley Dawson, a Dietary Aide at Care Pavilion Nursing Home in Philadelphia and a union leader in his chapter. “It’s Cathy who made me the person and union leader I am today. She took me under her wing when we were organizing in Care Pavilion and said she knew I could lead – that she could see it in me. I didn’t know anything about organizing or leading my coworkers but she believed in me and I feel like it’s my duty to keep it going.”
Cathy Brady’s viewing will be Thursday evening from 6-9 pm at White Luttrell, 311 N. Swarthmore Ave, Ridley Park. A viewing will take place from 9:30-10:30 am on Friday, followed immediately by mass at Divine Mercy Church, 6667 Chester Ave. Philadelphia.
Please consider contributing to a memorial event in her honor planned for Friday after the services.