In Memoriam: Union Members Lost in COVID-19 Pandemic

NOTE: Further updates to this list will be added to the AFL-CIO In Memoriam page.

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the United States, our sisters, brothers and friends in the labor movement are among the first casualties. It is important for us to work together during this crisis to prevent further deaths. It is important to thank those who are doing the work to keep us safe and fed. It is important to remember those who we lost because of the coronavirus.

This list includes those deaths we have currently learned of. If you aware of additional union members we should include on this list, please send details to kquinnell@aflcio.org and we will add them to the list.

Mario Araujo of Chicago, Fire Fighters: "Araujo, 49, joined the fire department in October 2003 and spent most of his career on Truck 25, which operates out of Engine 102 in Rogers Park on the North Side. He died April 7 after a battle with the coronavirus. He is the first member of the fire department to die of COVID-19."

Rolondo “Sonny” Aravena of New York, Communications Workers of America: "Rolando 'Sonny' Aravena passed away on Sunday, March 29, due to COVID-19. It was the day of his twin daughters' 10th birthday. Sonny left behind his wife Melody Aravena and their five children: Amberly, Jayden, Ethan, Ameera and Olivia." His co-worker Marlon Escobar said: “He came from a big and loving community. People from a lot of different places all knew and loved him.”

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Jennifer Robin Arnold of New York, Theatrical Stage Employees: Jennifer was a longtime member of IATSE Local 764. She was a member of the wardrobe crew of Broadway's "Phantom of the Opera" since its curtain first went up more than 32 years ago until the shutdown of theaters in mid-March. In addition to her work at "Phantom," Jennifer was an avid bike rider and an artist. She made artistic matchboxes, and many of her friends and colleagues proudly wore scarves, hats, headbands, and other accessories that Jennifer made as gifts. She loved a good story and to share a laugh with her friends.

Jeff Baumbach of Stockton, California, National Nurses United: Jeff was a member of the California Nurses Association/NNU worked as a registered nurse at St. Joseph's Medical Center. He helped place incoming patients with the proper care and trained nurses.

Mark Blum of New York, SAG-AFTRA and Actors' Equity: "Though he was perhaps best known for the 1985 film 'Desperately Seeking Susan,' in which he starred alongside Madonna and Rosanna Arquette, he most recently appeared in supporting TV roles on the HBO series 'Succession,' the Netflix drama 'You' and Amazon's 'Mozart in the Jungle.' He was a staple in the New York theater community, frequently appearing on Broadway, including the revival of 'Twelve Angry Men,' though he appeared off Broadway much more often." SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said: “This is a painful loss to our SAG-AFTRA family. Mark Blum understood that all performers working in this industry share the same employers and that our strength depends on our unity. He was a visionary. Mark will be deeply missed, and our hearts go out to his wife, Janet Zarish, his friends and all of his loved ones.”

Read more here.

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