2021 USW Cares District 11 Jefferson Award winner, Dan Jackson

‘Bandana Dan’ Jackson of Local Union 560 is known for building activism in the union and in his community, whether it’s through Toys for Tots, sitting on multiple labor councils across the state, or keeping teenagers safe after prom by hosting games and safe entertainment. For all he has done to lift his community, educate and engage fellow union members, and advocate for pro-worker legislation, Bandana Dan is the 2021 USW Cares District 11 Jefferson Award winner.

Jackson has worked for Doosan Bobcat as a sheer operator for 18 years. Being in a “Right-to-Work” state, when Jackson was first hired he had to make the decision as to whether or not he wanted to be in the union.

“When my steward asked me after I got off probation if I wanted to join our union, I didn’t know. I didn’t know what a union was or if I should join. Instantly when I got off work I called my mom and she said ‘definitely join the union, unions are good,” and I’m a momma’s boy. I listen to my mom, so the next day I was in the union.”

Before working for Bobcat at non-union job, Jackson’s arm was broken at work. After being given an ultimatum to go to doctor’s appointments or go to work the next day, Jackson quit and never looked back

“I’ve worked since I was 12 years old. I’ve had my arm broken by my employer at my previous job and was introduced to MSHA, so I learned about safety before I got to this union job, and our union is huge on safety. That was an instant draw-in; we’re here to protect one another.”

After having a discrepancy with his employer, Jackson ran to become the new steward for his local and won the position: “I always liked getting into trouble. I’m a trouble maker, and I’m an anti-authority kind of person. This union has given me a super-positive outlet for that energy. I focus my energy into doing good for my union brothers and sisters. It gives you the opportunity to buck the system and not be a trouble-maker for it,” said Jackson.

Jackson has been the Recording Secretary for the Fargo Labor Council for the last ten years; he is very passionate about getting members of USW Local 560 involved in the Labor Council, exposing them to other unions that work differently and engaging them in local politics.

“I want to show our members what we (the Labor Council) are doing on city council races, on school board races, and with local representatives in our districts; I want to show them how the politicians that they like are hurting the working class and voting against us. I have to show them how these politicians are voting against us, what they’re voting on, and how it hurts us,” said Jackson.

Jackson wanted to do work in the community through his union and get other members volunteering in the community, so he started a Solidarity Committee which he chairs. The committee of 5 or 6 members initially did parades in town, but when Jackson’s daughter entered high school he found out about the Post-Prom hosted by Junior parents. Post-Prom is an all-night lock-in with games and prizes for students to go to when they leave prom, instead of going out partying.

The Solidarity Committee decided to be apart of that effort to keep children safe after Prom, so they provide their own game, committee member volunteers run it, and they award cash prizes to get money to Seniors for gas and college books. They do a collection at the factory to pay for prizes and take their game to the high schools in 6 different towns around the factory.

“We run it however the parents or volunteers want us to run it. We get a list from the parents to make sure that every kid gets to win a prize. We want to tell then that everybody’s a winner with the union!” said Jackson.

The committee is moving towards doing union trivia game to make it educational for the kids and to teach them about how unions are beneficial to the community.

Jackson visits those same six same surrounding high schools with his union brother, Anthony Dagget, to meet with the superintendents, principals, teachers, and counselors and inform them about union scholarship opportunities for students related to union members through the AFL-CIO and the USW Free College program.

The Solidarity Committee also does door prizes for local union meetings to encourage attendance and solidarity, and now they started giving prizes for acts of kindness witnessed in the factory.

“Members can email our committee about an ‘activist act’ or ‘kindness act’ within our factory and we do drawings from the nominations each month,” says Jackson.

Jackson also leads the Committee’s can project where they collect aluminum cans at the factory and sell them to a recycling company; the money they get from it is donated to the local’s Women of Steel committee for when they adopt families in need during the Holidays. Usually, they donate about $700 a year to the Women of Steel program.

“It is hard to put a price or value in the amount of spirit and passion he has helped to lift,” says his nominator and friend, Tas Starks. “It is because of Bandana Dan's actions, passion, and drive to inspire that I wish to pursue goals and live to inspire others. He is a man of honor who knows how to build people up.”

“My goal is to show my brothers and sisters that it’s US that is the union. We’re the power.” said Jackson

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