Local 9899 Showcases Past and Future of Organized Labor

Union members built the city of Saginaw, Mich., and organized labor is now just as essential as the community begins its revitalization.

That was the message that members of Local 9899 wanted to communicate as they participated in the dedication of The Last Whistle, a statue honoring workers that was unveiled outside the Saginaw Art Museum as part of the community’s Labor Day festivities.

The 600 members of Local 9899 don’t necessarily look like the subject of the statue—a gritty blue collar worker that evokes the city’s history in lumber and manufacturing.

Instead, they’re health care workers who staff nearly every part of St. Mary’s Hospital as nursing assistants, phlebotomists, pharmacy technicians, sterile processing technicians, communications workers and more.

Local 9899 President Jackie Anklam said that the statue dedication was an important opportunity for the local to show people who they were and what they do. “It brought a lot of people out from the community,” she said. “People were so intrigued, coming up and talking to us.”

The local set up a table to hand out t-shirts, buttons, key chains, lanyards and other USW items. Anklam said that they were well received: “I had a lot of people say, ‘I will wear this with pride!’”

Other unions in the area also participated, including the IBEW, the UAW and LUNA. The event was so successful that Saginaw is now considering its fi rst Labor Day parade for next year.

Anklam said that their participation in the statue dedication was part of a wider outreach effort, which has included area locals speaking in front of the city council to explain the importance of organized labor in their community.

Anklam recently took her turn, and after thinking over what she wanted to say, she decided she simply wanted her people recognized. “I told them where we were and who we were. I told them that almost every hand that touches you in that hospital is a union worker until the time you go out that door.”

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