It is with great sadness that we note the passing of former Chicago/Midwest Counsel Barbara Hillman on the evening of June 5. Barbara represented AGMA Artists not just in the Midwest, but across the country for more than twenty years.
In addition to significantly increasing AGMA’s strength at the bargaining table and negotiating contracts that increased the workplace protections afforded AGMA members, she also mentored many in AGMA’s elected leadership as they worked on union reform during the 1990s. Her involvement with and concern for AGMA members in the Chicago area continued after her retirement and to the end of her life.
Barbara came from a union family. Her great-uncle, Sidney Hillman, was a founder of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). Her father was a labor organizer in the 1940s and 50s, and one sister was also a labor attorney, the other a labor organizer and historian.
Barbara was one of the first female members of the Chicago Labor Bar and was the first female partner at the firm of Cornfield and Feldman, a highly respected Chicago labor law firm. She represented a wide range of workers, from the Artists in the opera houses, concert halls, and dance companies of America to mine workers to teachers.
She often said that all workers are concerned with the same basic issues: job security, health coverage, retirement. Negotiating for workers in different industries was not that much different. That being said, she spent long hours researching technical issues and listening to AGMA members so that she could understand the specific needs of our members.
AGMA owes a great debt of gratitude to Barbara’s tireless effort on behalf of our members.
May her memory be a blessing.