Leo Troy, who retired in 2010, passed away Nov. 2 at his home in West Orange, N.J., at the age of 89. He is survived by his daughter, Suzannah Beth Troy; his son, Alexander Troy; Alexander’s wife, Dale; three grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. Services were held last month in Wilkes-Barre, Penn., where Troy was born and went to school. Burial was in Hanover, N.J.
Troy was a frequent guest on PBS and other news programs, his research often cited in print media such as Forbes magazine and most recently, the New York Times (2013); he also was the author of many books and scholarly articles published both here and in the United Kingdom. But for generations of Rutgers University-Newark students, he was simply “Dr. Troy,” a distinguished professor of economics at Rutgers University-Newark, longtime chair of the department and mentor to many students and young faculty members.
“Dr. Leo Troy was an outstanding asset to the economics department at Rutgers-Newark and to the economics profession. Leo was one of the top institutional labor economists exploring the factors that influenced the evolution of labor unions in the U.S. and in other parts of the world. He will be sorely missed,” stated Carlos Seiglie, department chair.
During his distinguished career in economics, Troy’s extensive scholarship on the decline of labor unions earned international attention, and resulted in a trilogy of books on unionism. The first, in 1994, was The New Unionism in the New Society, which looked at public-sector labor relations; the second, Beyond Unions and Collective Bargaining (1999), examined non-union employee-employer relationships. The final book, The Twilight of the Old Unionism (2004), studied private-sector unionism.
Troy received numerous awards for his scholarship, including two Fulbright Visiting Professorships in England and two awards from the National Science Foundation. But his most prized honor was being named “teacher of the year” by the Rutgers-Newark economics society in 1992-1993, recalls his Economics Department colleague, Peter Loeb. Troy was “a devoted teacher” who “cared for his students and could be quite demanding. He taught countless students how to conduct research and to demand only truth in their research endeavors,” notes Loeb.
He was the author of Prentice Hall’s Almanac of Business and Industrial Financial Ratios for many years, including the 2013 edition published in September. Troy also worked with the National Bureau of Economic Research, and his statistics on unionism are often cited in abstracts and by the media. Because of his expertise, Troy was called upon several times to testify before Congress on the participation of unions in presidential elections.
In a February 2000 interview with Rutgers Focus, Troy noted that his research findings were not popular with union supporters, including his academic colleagues, and that many considered him to be “politically incorrect.” He stated, "I've been saying that unions were declining long before it was generally believed or acceptable. At this point in my life, I don't feel a great need to be polite."
Troy was a U.S. Army veteran of World War II who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He then received his undergraduate degree from Pennsylvania State University, and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his master and doctoral degrees from Columbia University.
He came to Rutgers University-Newark in 1958 as a lecturer, eventually rising to department chairman, a post he held for 17 years. At the time of his death, Troy was a professor emeritus in labor economics.