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March 18, 1954 – February 10, 2012

March 18, 1954 – February 10, 2012

Local One-L Organizer, 1974 - 2012

Organizer, Trade Unionist, Agitator, Educator, Trouble Maker

Michael “Doc” Doklia, a Local One-L organizer for most of the last 38 years, passed away on February 10. He was 57 years old. 

Doc graduated Linden High School, Linden, NJ (class of 1972) where he excelled in the graphic arts. His next stop was Linden Vocational Technical School where Doc became a capable pressman.

Shortly after entering the commercial offset printing industry in 1974 he met the legendary Gene Burke, our director of organizing at the time. Immediately recognizing Doc’s instincts for organizing they together initiated many successful organizing campaigns for Local One-L. In 1975 Doc met Archer Cole, then president of the NJ State Industrial Union Council (IUC), whereupon these three brothers and trade unionists worked on numerous organizing campaigns for Local One-L and other local unions.

In 1980 Doc joined Local One-L while working at Pengad in Bayonne, NJ, becoming the shop delegate and receiving his coveted Journeyman Pressman’s book in 1982. His continued work with Gene Burke in organizing litho shops led to his becoming Local One’s full-time organizer in 1985. Within a 10 year period he had run 22 campaigns, achieved 13 NLRB victories and 11 signed first contracts, resulting in an unheard of 50% win ratio!

In 1995 Doc left Local One-L to become the executive director of Community Services for the United Labor Agency of Bergen County’s AFL-CIO serving as Vice President for the Bergen County Central Trades and Labor Council AFL-CIO where he was also their Mobilization/Street Heat Director. Under Doc’s direction the United Way of America and the National AFL-CIO honored the Labor Agency with the prestigious “Model City in Community Services” award in 1997. His innovation and dedication earned him nationwide status as one of the best strike support strategists in the country with one of the plans he designed along with several of his colleagues being used as a national model by the Teamsters for strike preparation at all of Anheuser Busch’s Breweries.

In 2001 Doc was asked by President Pat LoPresti to rejoin Local One-L’s organizing staff. This was a coming home time for Doc; he left his position as Labor Agency Director and came full circle back to the Amalgamated Lithographers of America, Local One-L.

Throughout his career Doc stood by all workers, with the full belief that a fair day’s work was worth a fair day’s pay, and selflessly helped Local One-L with our organizing efforts and strikes.

More than any of this, when you were Doc’s friend, you were his friend through thick and thin. He was a man of his word, a man’s man, and larger than life - then as well as now. Doc was always there for you, any day, any time. He stood by his principles, his friends, family, sisters and brothers in labor, regularly checking in on us all to make sure all were well in this, his extended family.

As Doc would say, “The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do and doing those things with the people you love the most.”

R.I.P. Brother Doc. You will be sorely missed.

This article was written by Doc’s fiancée, Ana Ramella, in collaboration with ALA Brothers Pat Tatulli and Dan Brush.

Thursday, March 18, 1954 to Friday, February 10, 2012