USW Cares: 2017 District 2 USW Jefferson Award Winner, Jackie Anklam

Jackie Anklam of Local Union 9899 was chosen as District 2’s USW Jefferson Award winner for her heroic work bringing safe drinking water to the people in Flint, Mich., when a state of emergency was declared due to water contamination.

Anklam is an environmental technician at Saint Maries Hospital in the city of Saginaw, Flint’s neighbor to the North West.

“When the Flint water deal happened here, I grew up outside of Flint, I sat back and analyzed the situation and thought to myself: nobody in America should turn their faucet on and have contaminated water come out. So, I decided to do something.”

At the height of the crisis, the people of Flint couldn’t drink tap water, wash their dishes, wash their clothes or brush their teeth for fear of further harm from the lead-contaminated water.

Anklam contacted District 2 Women of Steel Coordinator Linda Lucas and asked if there were any lead-detection kits left over from the USW’s “Get the Lead Out” campaign in 2008. The two women took the leftover kits and got to work coordinating a water drop-off at Local 12075 in Flint.

She then appealed to her own county’s health department for help, and they agreed to provide faucet filters for the homes of Steelworkers affected by lead-contaminated water.

Union Bond

Anklam began collecting money, cases of water, clothes and baby wipes from USW locals and other unions in her area.

“Locals from all over poured in money. We used it to purchase Brita water filters, cases of water, sanitary wipes, paper plates… Anything we could think of that they [Flint residents] were living without because using faucet water wasn’t an option.”

For the first drop-off, 45 Women of Steel and their families along with Saginaw County Health Department staff gathered at Local 12075’s hall in Flint for a membership meeting where Anklam gave a “Get the Lead Out” presentation, the health department explained how to install and use the water filters and the local was treated to pizza and cookies.

Volunteers made a total of three drop-offs to Flint. United Autoworkers, LIUNA, and United Food & Commercial Workers Union locals in the area not only helped by donating but by storing water, arranging for trucks to transport it and loading it into members’ and residents’ cars.

Due to the generosity of unions in the Western Michigan area, the project overflowed with water and filters, so Anklam was able to extend aid to the broader community of Flint.

“It was hard-working union members going door to door to get safe water to these people. We loaded their cars with as much water as they wanted and still had pallets left over that we took to the Michigan Eastern Food Bank where we gave lines of cars as many cases as they could hold.”



Keeping the Legacy Strong

Anklam inherited her love and loyalty for the union from her father, who was a member of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

“When I left my house for the first day of my first job, my dad said to me, ‘You’re going to a non-union shop. Keep your mouth shut and your head down, because you don’t have a voice there.’”

Anklam was very active in organizing Saint Maries in 2003 and serves as the president of her local. She still carries the sentiment her dad gave her a long time ago: “Without a union you don’t have a voice. Without our union, the working class wouldn’t be where they are today. I love my union, and I couldn’t imagine my life without my union.”

USW Cares

Jackie Anklam’s response to Flint, Mich.’s water crisis is just one example of the impressive work hundreds of USW members do to give back to their communities.

If you know a Steelworker who is doing something amazing in their community, we want to know about it! Use the #USWCares hashtag and give a shout-out to @Steelworkers when you post on social media. To nominate a fellow member or local for the 2018 USW Jefferson Awards, visit http://usw.to/rq.

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