Obituary: Douglas L. Root Jr. / Alcoa labor negotiator had collegial style
Douglas L. Root Jr., whose diplomatic and collegial style helped immensely in avoiding rancor while negotiating labor contracts as an Alcoa executive, died Sunday from lung cancer at UPMC Shadyside.
Mr. Root, a longtime Franklin Park resident who retired in 1997 as Alcoa's director of industrial relations, was 80.
He was the top labor negotiator for the world's largest aluminum manufacturer during his last five years with the firm and was involved in numerous other contract talks during 25 years rising through the ranks at Alcoa's Pittsburgh headquarters. He was a young executive before that at the company's plants in Vernon, Calif., and Massena, N.Y.
His skills were particularly noteworthy in reaching a 1996 contract with the United Steelworkers, the main union representative for the workforce, which doubled the length of the pact to six years and attained a new level of shared information and trust between labor and management.
"Doug was always enormously respected by the leadership of the union as well as the company," said Joe Quaglia, who worked under him and rose to become human resources director for Alcoa's North American operations. "His word was his bond. He was a true problem solver."
Born July 24, 1931, and originally from Albany, N.Y., Mr. Root was a star high school pitcher who earned an athletic scholarship to Holy Cross College. He majored in physics there and, after ending his baseball career because of an arm injury, joined the Navy ROTC. He served after graduation as an officer on a Navy destroyer for three years.
Upon his return to civilian life in 1956, an uncle who headed a New Castle steel company connected him to Pittsburgh's corporate world. Mr. Root's early years with Alcoa included a 1960 profile of him in the company's magazine as an up-and-coming executive at the Massena fabricating plant.
First Published 2012-03-05 23:25:21