Navigation Bar

Home -> UE News -> 1999 Archives -> Article

Retirees Recall Years
Working for ‘Best
Union In the Country’


Klausner, Isquith, Lifflander; back row, Spero, Schaffer, Phyllis Lewis, Bob Lewis and Ellis
Pictured at a June 14 luncheon meeting are, front row, Ray Klausner, Fannie Isquith, Lillian Rosenberg Lifflander; back row, Nathan Spero, Ruth Schaffer, Phyllis Lewis, Bob Lewis and Alfred Ellis. Not present: Jim Lerner.

Their formal connection with UE long past, several retired National office staff members here still see each other at birthday luncheons, where they have a chance to reflect on their many decades of service to the union. The retirees include:

Ray Klausner came to UE in 1937 and officially retired in December 1977, but went on working part-time when called upon by the union. She was secretary to Genl. Pres. Albert J. Fitzgerald and Genl. Sec.-Treas. Julius Emspak, and to Directors of Organization Bob Kirkwood and Hugh Harley. Upon retirement she took up wood sculpture; a file of her work is in the archives of the Women’s Museum in Washington, D.C.

Fannie Isquith, who worked for UE for 28 years. Much of that time she was the secretary in the Publicity Dept., working with Bill Cahn, UE NEWS Editor Tom Wright, (reporter and later editor) Jim Lerner, cartoonist Fred Wright and writers Harriet Beecher and Betty Goldstein (better known as Betty Friedan). She later served as the New York secretary for UE Legislative Representative Russ Nixon, who was based in Washington. Since her retirement she’s enjoyed a career as dancer and dance teacher.

Lillian Rosenberg Lifflander worked in the UE Research Dept. from 1941-1951; she’s now a community activist.

Nathan Spero was UE research director for 39 years, from 1944-1983. During those years he was the co-chair of the 13-union joint committee on pensions and insurance in negotiations with General Electric and Westinghouse, editor of the annual UE Officers’ Report (from 1951-1982) and was responsible for pre-convention assembly and editing of convention resolutions. Currently he is a part-time instructor at the Manhattan branch of Queens College, teaching labor history and math.

Alfred Ellis was a UE organizer in central Pennsylvania between 1951 and 1956, where he fought the never-ending raids on UE locals by AFL and CIO unions.

Jim Lerner had been with the UE NEWS for more than 43 years when he retired in 1983. At the time of his retirement, the Columbia Journalism Review said of the paper: "It reflects an extraordinary tough union that draws its strength from a them against us sensibility."

Bob Lewis worked in the UE Legal Dept. for 30 years (1957-1987), first as staff counsel, later as UE general counsel.

Phyllis Lewis worked in the UE Legal Dept. from 1948 to the mid-Fifites; called back, she worked off and on until the National office moved to Pittsburgh in 1987. UE is important to Phyllis and Bob because they met there; they celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1998. "We love UE and read the UE NEWS avidly," Phyllis says. "It’s still the best union in the country — if not the world!"

Ruth Schaffer came to work for UE in May 1969 and retired 22 years later, in June 1991. She worked first as a switchboard operator and then with Nat Spero in Research. She later served as an executive secretary to Dir. of Org. Harley and General Presidents Denis Glavin and James Kane. "I am enjoying my retirement by enhancing my cultural life by volunteering at the Lincoln Center Philharmonic Symphony and the Jewish Museum and by meeting with UE retirees," Ruth says.

"The luncheon gatherings of retired UE staff members reflect the friendships built over decades of ‘good times’ and ‘hard times’ in the union’s life," comments Jim Lerner. "To me, our modest luncheons are a reminder of the days we fought together to keep the union going."

UE News - 12/99

Home -> UE News -> 1999 Archives -> Article

Home • About UE • Organize! • Independent Unions • Search • Site Guide • What's New • Contact UE
UE News • Political Action • Info for Workers • Resources • Education • Health & Safety • International • Links

Copyright © 2003 UE. All Rights Reserved