OCRACOKE, N.C. - A union leader from Westlake who went swimming with his wife after helping to settle a contract drowned at Ocracoke Island along North Carolina's Outer Banks.
Seth Rosen, 55, of Westlake, vice president of District 4 of the Communications Workers of America, died Friday. He had finalized contract negotiations, by phone, with AT&T, and then went swimming with his wife, according to Policy Matters Ohio. Rosen was chairman of the board of Policy Matters.
His wife, Kathi Thomas Rosen, got to shore safely, Policy Matters said in a news release.
Rosen "was a true champion for workers' rights and the middle class," Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish said in a statement Saturday.
Democratic state Rep. Mike Foley said Rosen was "kind, brilliant, strategic, funny and a great musician to boot."
Rosen "could take small individual policy and political issues and put it into context immediately with larger trends and phenomena in a way that was understandable for everyday people," Foley said. "He cared about how society treated the `least' among us, but rather than ask for individual acts of charity from those better off, he worked to organize working and poor people for a more just society. For lots and lots and lots of reasons he really was a wonderful guy and good friend."
As a CWA vice president, Rosen's district covered 80,000 active and retired members in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. He also was the chairman of the CWA Executive Board's Organizing Committee.
CWA President Larry Cohen said Rosen's death is a loss for the whole union. "His commitment to every aspect of our union life cannot be matched," Cohen said. "To honor his memory, we will complete and carry on that work and never give up."
Hyde County spokeswoman Jamie Carter said emergency officials got the call about a drowning about 5 p.m. Friday. The county issued a rip current alert for Thursday but not for Friday, she said. However, she says emergency responders reported the water was rough when they arrived.
Friends and family told Policy Matters Ohio that the tide came in with strong waves and a powerful undertow.
CWA, based in Washington, D.C., represents more 700,000 workers in the public and private sectors.
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