9.07.2014

thank you, charley richardson! your legacy lives on

On Labour Day, I happened to see this on Twitter:



I am on my union's labour-management committee, the group that meets monthly with management to discuss members' concerns and try to resolve issues. I was intrigued and followed the link that Rank and File had posted.

To my surprise, the original "how to" advice was written by the late Charley Richardson, who passed away in 2013. I knew of Charley, mostly by his outsize reputation, from another part of his life: along with his wife Nancy Lessin, he co-founded Military Families Speak Out.

MFSO is now defunct, but the organization did tremendous work advocating for veterans and against wars for oil and profit. As it happens, MFSO bears a special place in my own anti-war activism. Shortly after the US invaded Iraq, while we were waiting to emigrate to Canada, Allan and I attended an MFSO event in New York. The tiny Judson Memorial Church was packed to the rafters, people applauding and weeping as parents, spouses, and siblings of soldiers testified to the terrible treatment they endured, and to the real motives behind the wars. I never forgot that meeting, although it would be many years before I reconnected with its mission.

Years later, working with the War Resisters Support Campaign, I often heard about Richardson, Lessin, and MFSO. They were incredibly supportive to the families of soldiers and veterans, whether or not they were active in the military, had finished their tours, or had deserted. A friend and comrade of mine was close with the Richardsons, and that's how I learned that Charley, only in his late 50s, was dying. Here is his obituary in the Boston Globe.

Now, more than a year after Charley's untimely passing, I had stumbled on some of his wise and practical advice. Digging a bit deeper, I learned that part of Richardson's legacy as a labour educator has been archived and preserved as "The Charley Richardson Guide to Kicking Ass for the Working Class".

And here, perhaps, is the best part of the story. I shared the article with our labour-management committee team. The response was strong and positive. We prepared for our next meeting with new resolve, and we had the strongest, most effective labour-management meeting I've seen since joining the team more than a year ago.

Thank you, Charley Richardson!

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

We watched We are Wisconsin last night (Cinema Politic London): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uP0jM4P5bmg

Powerful unity! Inspiring.

Keep up the good work. Union solidarity is needed now more than ever.