State to name Tacoma highway after ILWU leader Phil Lelli

lelli-philOLYMPIA (May 25, 2016) — A portion of State Route 509 leading into the Port of Tacoma will be named in honor of the late Philip Martin Lelli, longtime President of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 23 in Tacoma and former Port of Tacoma commissioner.

During the 2015 legislative session, Sen. Steve Conway (D-Tacoma), sponsored legislation requesting that the Washington State Transportation Commission rename the highway in honor of Lelli. Last week, the WSTC did just that.

“Phil was a man who knew how to work together for the good of our community and the success of our state,” said Conway. “I am thrilled that the commission has voted to celebrate his contributions by renaming the highway in his honor.”

Vance Lelli, one of Phil and Joanne Lelli’s five sons, is a member of ILWU Local 23 and the American Federation of Musicians, President of the Pierce County Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and a longtime Vice President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

“We’re not sure how to celebrate this correctly,” Vance said. “I’ve never seen anything named after a local labor leader in my life. My father cooperated with everyone to make Tacoma and our Port great, so now we need to make this highway dedication great. I’m hopeful that the whole labor community feels the pride that our family feels.”

The formal dedication of the Philip Martin Lelli Memorial Highway will take place in September. (Stay tuned for details.)

An advocate for innovation, Phil Lelli was known for his unprecedented role in attracting new businesses to the Port of Tacoma and transitioning it into one of the principal ports of entry on the Pacific Coast.

Lelli was influential in his community as well, organizing Tacoma’s Hospitality Kitchen to provide lunches for the homeless.

“Phil is one of the principal reasons that Tacoma has become one of the busiest and most important shipping ports on the west coast,” Conway said. “It’s wonderful that his efforts will be recognized for generations to come.”

For more information about Phil Lelli, read former U.S. Rep Norm Dick’s speech before Congress recognizing his passing.

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