Joseph M. Lyons, retired president of the Philadelphia Council of Newspaper Unions and “muffin man” of Sea Isle City, has died at 82

Joseph M. Lyons, 82, of Horsham, retired president of Teamsters Local 169 and the Philadelphia Council of Newspaper Unions, and beloved “muffin man” of Sea Isle City, died Monday, Oct. a vasculitis in the university hospital. of Pennsylvania.

A young storekeeper at the start of his union career in the 1960s, Mr. Lyons used his organizing skills and energetic personality to become president of Teamsters Local 169 and the Philadelphia Council of Newspaper Unions, a member of the Teamsters Joint Council 53, a top contract negotiator and spokesperson for the union during one of Philadelphia’s most unpredictable labor times from the 1980s through the mid-2000s.

He has represented thousands of unionized workers in the region in delicate and often contentious contract talks with officials from numerous companies, including The Inquirer and Daily News. As a chief negotiator, he was part of the city’s economic landscape and helped shape its labor and management relationships.

His family said in a tribute: “He had zero tolerance for racism and social injustice.”

Mr Lyons was a friend and colleague of many senior union officials and often clashed with management heavyweights such as Brian Tierney of The Inquirer and Daily News, Mitch Leibovitz of Pep Boys and Richard Harrison of food wholesaler Fleming Cos.

He retired in the mid-2000s and, a baker at heart, woke up at 3 a.m. in the summer for years to bake muffins for his childhood buddy at McGowan’s Market in Sea Isle. After his death, the store Facebook page was laden with photos of Mr. Lyons and memorabilia from his muffins and other culinary adventures.

“I will always remember Cooking Joe,” a friend said in a tribute, and “his burnt grilled cheese over rye.”

As a union spokesman, Mr. Lyons was often blunt in his public statements. “There comes a time in all these negotiations when you know it’s time to settle, and that time has come,” he told the Daily News in a last-minute attempt to avoid a strike in the newspapers in 1993. He also said, “Our patience is running out a bit. We do not believe the company is dealing in good faith with us.

He was practical. “We don’t expect it to be easy,” he said of contract negotiations with newspapers in 2006. And he had principles. “The pilots could probably make a deal,” he said in 1993. “But we’re not going to do that. We’re not going to let the Guild hang around there.

Mr. Lyons bargained hard, his opponents said, but honorably, and Tierney applauded the impact Mr. Lyons had on the labor scene and the respect he earned for his clear-headed positions. In 1993, Mr Lyons compromised to strike a deal with The Inquirer and Daily News, saying: “I don’t think we got everything we were looking for. But we got the best we can get and we can live with it.

Born on February 16, 1940 in Philadelphia, Mr. Lyons was one of 10 children. He grew up in Germantown and was a star football player at Northeast Catholic High School.

He met Patricia Walsh in the neighborhood, fell in love and married her when he was 16. They then had a daughter Mary and sons Joe, Jim, Tim, Michael and Paul and lived in Germantown, Hatboro and finally Horsham. Michael and Paul died earlier.

“We all loved it and claimed her attention at every Sunday dinner,” her daughter said.

Mr Lyons took the family to Phillies games and on memorable trips to Ireland, was a notorious bad driver and spent time with friends at the Glenside Pub and the Pour House in Sea Isle.

He umpired Little League baseball games, was calm and determined, and rarely complained. “He never raised his voice,” his son Jim said, “because he didn’t have to. He had a way of getting his point across.

His daughter said: “Joe Lyons was a man everyone would be proud to call husband, father, brother and friend.”

In addition to his wife and children, Mr. Lyons is survived by six grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, four sisters, three brothers and other relatives. Two brothers died earlier.

Services were October 24 and 25.

Donations in his name can be made to St. Francis Inn MinistriesPO Box 3746, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19125.