ILA Suffers Two More Deaths To COVID-19 As Otis Saleem Johnson From ILA Local 1233 and Orlando Mercado From ILA Local 1235 Pass Away From Coronavirus

Orlando Mercado
Otis Saleem Johnson

NORTH BERGEN, NJ (April 4, 2020). The International Longshoremen’s Association continues to suffer loss of life due to COVID-19. ILA members Otis Saleem Johnson, from Local 1233 in Newark, and Orlando Mercado, from Local 1235, passed away in recent days from Coronavirus.

Scores of ILA members have relatives that have contracted COVID-19 and several have lost family members to this pandemic, virus that has infected over a million people world-wide resulting in almost 63,000 deaths.

“It’s heartbreaking and devastating to see two more of our own pass away from this terrible virus,” said Dennis A. Daggett, International Executive Vice President. “I am personally distraught, and our ILA family is shocked with the passing of two ILA longshoremen from the Port of Newark, New Jersey.

“Every victim on this horrible Coronavirus Pandemic is tragic, but the deaths of Brother Johnson from ILA Local 1233 and Brother Mercado from ILA Local 1235 hits so close to home.” continued Daggett. “We extend our collective prayers to their families and ask God to watch over our ILA family. Words may fail us to describe the magnitude of loss we are experiencing today, but we will make certain these two ILA Brothers did not die in vain. Our International will be more vigilant than ever protecting our members.”

“On Thursday morning, April 2nd, we at ILA Local 1233 lost our brother, Otis ‘Sweet Daddy’ Johnson; He succumbed to COVID-19,” said Buddy Smith, President, ILA Local 1233. “Brother Otis was a Straddle Driver at PNCT. He was a good person who enjoyed life to the fullest. We will miss him. Please keep his family in your prayers.”

“It is with a heavy heart that I have to speak on the passing of Mr. Orlando Mercado,” Brandon Garcia, President, ILA Local 125. Orlando was a dedicated member of ILA Local 1235 since 1995 and has made an impact on mine and so many members’ lives. His personality will certainly be missed, especially his humor.

“Orlando’s family, including his five children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren will be in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” concluded President Garcia.