Longtime MT labor leader Jim Murry dies

Jim Murry, a longtime leader of organized labor in Montana who helped usher in a progressive era of politics in Montana in the 1960s and 1970s, died Monday in Helena. He was 85.

Murry, who grew up in Laurel and worked at its oil refinery, became head of the Montana AFL-CIO in 1968 at age 33 – at the time, the youngest state labor-federation director in the country.

He spent 23 years at the organization’s helm, helping form coalitions that worked to elect many Democrats to Montana’s highest offices. In the late 1970s, Democrats controlled majorities at the Montana Legislature and held the governor’s office, both U.S. Senate seats and one of two U.S. House seats in the state.