The Union’s Path to the Future Necessarily Includes Education
In preparation for 2009 negotiations, United Steelworkers Local 227 sent me to National Labor College (NLC) in Silver Spring, Maryland, to take the course, “Negotiating and Writing Contract Language.” It was the first time I had ever heard of a “labor college” or had any knowledge that a formal accredited education geared for organized labor was available. My father was a union employee at Phillips Petroleum from 1944 until 1985, walked a picket line during several strikes as a member of OCAW, and served at least some time as a representative for his group. We lived near the Houston ship channel where the oil industry was booming in the 1950s and 60s and thousands of workers crowded union halls in support of union jobs. At 44 years of age, I was hired into my first career union job at the same plant where my dad retired, signed up to be a union member immediately, and within a year began serving as an appointed joint safety committee chair. I have served our union ever since as an elected representative in one or more capacities through the mergers of OCAW with PACE and of PACE with the Steelworkers, and currently continue to serve as Secretary Treasurer.