Jon Fromer, labor’s troubadour, died Jan. 2 after a long battle with cancer.
Fromer didn’t just sing songs, he sang beliefs and ideals, and he gladly promoted many of labor’s causes with a singing style that was pure heart. He composed original pieces, but also adopted labor’s time-honored tradition of taking popular tunes and turning them into labor anthems that any worker could sing along with.
Case in point: IBEW Local 1245. When our union was battling PG&E over the utility’s plan to lay off more than a thousand IBEW members in late 1994, Fromer performed a souped-up version of the Ghostbusters theme song at a huge rally at the California Public Utilities Commission, singing:
“When the lights go out, in the neighborhood, and PG&E ain’t doin’ what it should, who ya gonna call?”
At which point a thousand voices roared: “NOBODY!”
He reprised the song at a subsequent IBEW 1245 rally at the CPUC in 1999, by which time he had become something of an honorary member of the union.
No doubt there are many other unions that considered Fromer an honorary member for his selfless devotion to so many good causes.
Fromer’s career included several CDs and television productions, and he won awards for his work in both TV and music. In 2011, the Labor Heritage Foundation awarded Fromer the Joe Hill Artist Lifetime Achievement at the Great Labor Arts Exchange.
IBEW Local 1245 salutes the artistry, passion and conviction of the troubadour we were glad to call our own.