Last week USU General Secretary Graeme Kelly visited former General Secretary Peter McMahon AM who is living in a nursing home. Peter has been a member of the USU (formerly the Municipal Employees Union) since 1948 and remains a proud member of the USU through our USU’s Retired Members Club. Next year Peter will be a member for 70 years! As a Lifetime member of our union he has made a lifetime commitment and on behalf of all members the USU executive thank him for his amazing and continuing contribution to our great union.
Peter served as General Secretary of the Municipal Employees Union (now the USU) from 1969 to 1982.
Before becoming General Secretary, Peter was Assistant Secretary of the MEU from 1963 to 1969. He became Federal President of the Union in 1970, a position he held until 1982, and was a leading figure in NSW unionism and politics, combining both aspects to advance the interests of the Union and trade unionism generally. He became a member of the ALP State Executive in 1969, then a member of the newly formed ALP Administrative Committee from 1971 to 1982.
In 1973, he became an Honourable Member of the Legislative Council of NSW, where he forcefully entered debates on local government, industrial issues, workers’ compensation, local government superannuation, local government boundaries, and other matters essentially in the interests of Union members. He decided not to renominate when the Legislative Council was restructured in 1981.
Like his predecessors he served as a member of the Local Government Superannuation Board from 1976 to 1982, seeking to advance superannuation issues on behalf of members.
He was appointed a member in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1982 for services to trade unionism and the community.
He resigned as General Secretary in the same year on being appointed to the Industrial Commission of New South Wales, becoming “The Honourable Deputy President Peter McMahon AM”.
“It’s always a great honour to speak with Peter,” said Graeme Kelly. “His life-time commitment to the members of the MEU and the labour movement is inspiring and it is great that he is still a member.
“Peter is a Lifetime member of the union and I cannot think of a stronger advocate for working men and women. His hard work at a time of huge social change was instrumental in our union gaining strength and our members gaining workplace power.”
Peter also wrote a history of the Municipal Employees Union which can be downloaded here.