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UE Local 204
Dorothy Johnson
Wows Progressive
Law Crowd


Dorothy Johnson, president of amalgamated UE Local 299
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 wasn’t interested.

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 wasn’t 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 militantly."

UE News - 11/00

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