Ronald Edward Hollie, the retired president of a hospital workers union and a stationary engineer, died of cancer Sunday at Sinai Hospital. The Cheswolde resident was 71.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Pine Street, he attended St. Pius V Parochial School and attended Carver Vocational Technical High School. He later earned a General Education degree and took courses at Dundalk Community College. He served in the Marine Corps from 1957 to 1960.
He then worked as a licensed stationary engineer at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where his beginning salary was $35 a week, his family said.
"He was troubled by the unfair labor practices he observed and quickly earned a reputation as an effective fighter for workers' rights," said his wife of 43 years, the former Donna Tyler. "He devoted his full time and attention to improving the plight of health care employees."
He began as a union delegate and in 1976 went on to be elected president of District 1199E of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Workers Union.
Mr. Hollie was the 6,000-member union's president for a decade. He negotiated improved working conditions, salaries and benefits. He tried to stop the closing of the old Provident Hospital in 1985.
"I don't think we should consider making concessions to the hospital until we know what the doctors are conceding," he told a Sun reporter in 1985. "They're the ones driving around in the Mercedes, not us."
Mr. Hollie also marched at the South African Embassy in Washington to protest apartheid. He was arrested on several occasions.
As a union official and community activist, Mr. Hollie met Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Rep. Parren J. Mitchell and Coretta Scott King, as well as actors Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis.
He was also a past president and official of the Arch Social Club, a West Baltimore African-American men's club.
"He was committed to making sure the Arch Social Club continued as a place for the perpetuation of jazz and brotherhood for black men in Maryland," his wife said.
After retiring from the union in 1986, Mr. Hollie returned to his job at Johns Hopkins and later worked at the Housing Authority of Baltimore City. He retired in 2006.
He then lectured on labor relations at Sojourner-Douglass College.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. today at St. Cecilia's Roman Catholic Church, Hilton Street and Windsor Avenue.
In addition to his wife, survivors include a daughter, Rhonda Michelle Hollie of Baltimore; and a granddaughter. His daughter, Cynthia Hollie, died in 2006.