Collins, 55, began his union career in 1964 when he joined Plumbers Local 5 in Washington, D.C. He moved up the ranks of the local union with elections beginning in 1970 with the Finance Board; as assistant business manager in 1973 and as business manager in 1976.
He became an officer in the union’s international headquarters in 1985 and held various positions, including serving for many years as the UA’s director of political and legislative affairs. Collins was finally appointed in 1997 as general secretary–treasurer. He was unanimously elected to this position at the union’s 35th General Convention in 1996.
“It has been a privilege and an honor to serve with Brother Collins through the years,” said UA General President Martin J. Maddaloni. “I considered him a good friend, and I will miss his wisdom and support.”
Collins had been an active and visible labor leader throughout his career, serving as president of various industry councils and on the executive board of the Washington Building and Construction Trades Council. He also served on the Metropolitan Labor Council of the AFL-CIO and the National Plumbing Committee.
In 1982, Collins was recognized by the Engineering News Record for his contributions to the construction industry.
Collins is survived by his wife, Kathleen, his five children and two grandchildren. He is also survived by a twin brother, Terry, and three other brothers and two sisters.