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Member-legislator Dick Barrett


Representative Dick Barrett is one of 16 MEA-MFT members serving in the 2009 Montana Legislature. (Read more about our other legislator-members here.)


Dick retired from the University of Montana after 37 years as a professor of economics. He belongs to the University Faculty Association. (“When I was an officer it was proudly called the University Teachers Union, Local 119, American Federation of Teachers,” he says, “but somebody decided that the term ‘union’ wasn’t ‘professional’ enough!”)


What I do, and why it matters: I taught, studied and wrote about economic issues, ranging from state and local to international. I hope that my work helped people understand how the economy works and how we can make the economy strong, socially productive, and able to serve the needs of every citizen.


Best kind of day on the job: Teaching a good class that students enjoyed and felt they had learned something of interest. Finding out something about the economy that I didn't know before. Having a productive discussion with colleagues.


Why I belong to MEA-MFT: I joined the University Teachers Union in 1971 or so and was active in the union as it won its election and bargained the first contract. At about that time I also became treasurer of MFT (Montana Federation of Teachers) and a member of the AFT Higher Education programming and policy council. I continued in those roles up through the time of the merger (I participated in the merger negotiations).


MEA-MFT has been my union home for almost 40 years, and I can't imagine it otherwise. Besides, Eric (Feaver) bent my arm about getting a lifetime retired membership!


What I do for fun: Snowboarding and cross country skiing in the winter; whitewater canoeing and horseback riding in the summer. I like to hike, I'm something of a gym rat, I usually have some kind of home improvement that I am bungling up, and I like to build boats.


Family/community involvement: My daughter is grown and gone (she's a veterinarian living in Colorado) and so my wife Sharon (also a UM retiree) and I have been empty nesters for about 14 years. We like to spend time with our sisters and their families, none of whom live in Montana.


Currently I am on the board of directors of Missoula Medical Aid, an organization which sends three medical teams to Honduras every year. I have accompanied four of these teams to Honduras as a team leader and translator but will not be doing so this year because of the legislative schedule.


In the past I have served on the boards of and volunteered for Missoula Planned Parenthood, the Missoula Food Bank, Montana Conservation Voters and the Missoula Whitewater Association.


Thank you, Dick for doing Work That Matters for Montana's people!


Read about other Amazing MEA-MFT members