Dr. James M. Melius, New York State Tri-Funds Administrator and Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America Director of Research, died of cardiac arrest on January 1, 2018, in Copake Falls, New York at the age of 69.
Known affectionately as “Dr. Jim,” Melius served the men and women of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) for the past 24 years. A passionate advocate for workplace safety and health, he was one of the architects of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, the federal law that established an extensive program of medical monitoring and health care services for first responders, volunteers, and survivors of the September 11, 2001 attacks. He fought tirelessly to protect Laborers and other workers from exposure to asbestos and other dangerous toxins on work sites, and to ensure that those who developed diseases as a result of those exposures got the care they needed and deserved.
A nationally recognized authority on occupational safety and health, Melius helped create the National Construction Safety and Health Research Program, and worked closely with LIUNA, other building trades unions, and the International Association of Firefighters. He held a wide range of leadership and advisory positions, was published in numerous scientific and medical journals, and received many industry awards.
Jim Melius devoted his life to reducing the number of workers killed, injured, and exposed to dangerous toxins on the job. In his position as Administrator of LIUNA’s New York State TriFunds, he worked closely with LIUNA Secretary-Treasurer and New England Regional Manager Armand E. Sabitoni, and LIUNA Vice President and Eastern Regional Manager Raymond M. Pocino. “Armand, Ray, and I have lost a dear friend and devoted colleague,” said LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan. “Jim was a true working class warrior who valued hard work and those that do it, and who knew that working men and women are our nation’s greatest assets. He will be sorely missed by all who were fortunate enough to have known and worked with him.”
Melius is survived by his wife, Melanie, and two sons, Jeremy and Ehren.
A memorial service is being planned for Monday, March 26, 2018 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.