Happy 75th, Anaconda Teachers Union!
Apr. 17, 2012 - Seventy-five years ago today (April 17, 1937), the American Federation of Teachers signed the original charter of the Anaconda Teachers Union Local 502, thus officially establishing this local MEA-MFT union.
ATU members celebrated their many proud years on April 4. Eleanor Evankovich, a former school librarian, was the longest-term member in attendance at the celebration. She became a member of ATU in the late 1940s.
Also in attendance were several former ATU presidents, including Ilona Schlosser, Pat Forsman, Jerry Hogan, and Ed Dulaney.
From left: MEA-MFT Field Consultant Tom Burgess, ATU President Carlton Nelson, MEA-MFT Exec. Dir. Erik Burke, and MEA-MFT Sec.-Treas.-elect Rich Aarstad.
MEA-MFT Field Consultant Tom Burgess, MEA-MFT Executive Director Erik Burke, and MEA-MFT Secretary-Treasurer-elect Rich Aarstad joined the celebration as well.
The evening began with a short reading from past union minutes emphasizing the importance of forming the union and the struggles the early union faced in being recognized as the "sole bargaining agent" for teachers.
Montana State AFL-CIO Executive Secretary Al Ekblad sent a letter of congratulations to ATU President Carlton Nelson, saying, in part, "The ATU has set a strong example of how workers united can create middle class jobs, protect the interests of working men and women and their children, and build strong communities. Several generations of workers have benefited from your solidarity and your values."
Referring to the reading of the original meeting minutes from 1937, Ekblad said, "What a triumph that must have been for those union brothers and sisters in the days of bloodshed over such boldness! ... [W]e stand on the shoulders of giants.”
Congratulations to our brothers and sisters at ATU! Thank you for keeping the flame alive!