Union retirees: pay it back.
Right now there are no shortages of strikes to support.
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Driving back from Moline the other day Anne and I were trying to count the number of picket lines we have walked since retiring.
As it turns out, there have been quite a few.
I remember that cold November in 2003 when our teacher local went on strike. It meant all the world to have neighbors, parents and our students show up on the line, donuts and coffee in hand.
And retirees. I’m thinking of Barry and Diane Burke.
Diane had been a kindergarten teacher and a local union president like me.
Barry was also active in the union and had been a building rep.
When Diane was president it was before we had cell phones and email. She was president before there were even land line phones in our classrooms.
And no release time for doing her job as president.
There was a little phone room next to my Art room and that’s was where Diane had to spend a major part of her planning time to handle urgent union business or messages from members.
As I recall, Barry and Diane had bought a little place in Costa Rica for their retirement. That November in 2003 was bitter. A perfect time to be in Costa Rica.
Instead, they were walking the picket line with us.
Now, when there’s a strike I think it is part of a union retiree’s job to go show support.
Walking a picket line supporting striking teachers in Waukegan in 2016.
The media is calling this Striketober.
It is estimated that over 100,000 workers have walked off the job over contract and bargaining issues.
As a retired union worker we don’t have to walk far to find a picket line.
At Kellogg’s over 1,400 workers are on strike in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Nebraska
In California and Oregon 24,000 nurses and health care workers at Kaiser-Permanente voted last week to authorize a work stoppage.
New York nurses and Massachusetts are striking too. At St. Vincent in Worcester nurses are on strike, the longest in Massachusetts history.
IATSE, the union representing behind-the-camera workers in the film industry authorized a strike. Their union signed a tentative agreement but it is unclear whether the members will accept it.
And then there is John Deere where 10,000 UAW members defied a recommendation to accept a contract by their leaders and are on strike in Illinois, Iowa and elsewhere.
I’m sending this out to all my retired union colleagues.
Pay it back.
Support the strikers.
Walk the line.