UE Local 204
Dorothy Johnson, president of
amalgamated UE Local 299, showed the National Lawyers Guild by her words and
action that a union can aspire to a progressive result.
When UE Local 299 Pres. Dorothy Johnson received a
phone call inviting her to speak at the convention of the National Lawyers
Guild she said she thought it was some kind of bar association and wasnt
But then the legal worker who called her explained that the
Guild was an organization committed to defending the rights of workers and had
represented protesters from the civil rights movement to Seattle, and that it
wasnt just an organization of lawyers that it included legal workers,
law students, and jail house lawyers as well. Johnson accepted.
And so it was that she joined three lawyers and an activist
from HERE in a packed workshop on the meaning of union democracy. Sister
Johnson was the final speaker, and brought gasps of amazement, gales of
laughter and cheers from an extremely attentive crowd, as she shared her
experiences of being on strike for 17 months, told the story of how the local
had blown the whistle on the company during their last set of negotiations,
and explained what it means in the UE to be a democratic union.
Mark Stern, the Boston attorney who served as moderator
and has handled several cases for UE in District Two observed, "Dorothy
was fabulous. It was our honor to have her as our guest and our pleasure to
hear her speak about her experiences.
"As the other speakers indicated, all too often unions
aspire to have their members be seen but not heard while their white, male
leadership speaks for them. Dorothy, who claimed to having been quiet and shy
before she joined the UE, showed us by her words, actions and demeanor that a
union can aspire to and achieve a different, progressive result," Stern
said. He concluded, "She and the UE are an inspiration to all of us
committed to making it possible for unions to function democratically and
UE News - 11/00