This is what leading looks like

In her pursuit of justice, Maggie Estell—a Teacher’s Assistant at LAUSD for 35 years—was a tireless advocate for those of us who dedicate our lives to educating young people.

On April 12, 2016, she spoke before the Los Angeles Unified School Board to urge its members to expand affordable health insurance to all school employees. Her fighting words and her own personal story of struggle helped moved the board to pass an expansion.

A lifelong union member, Maggie poured her spirit and energy into our union, serving several terms on the Executive Board and, for a short time, as a staff member of Local 99. Maggie passed away of an illness just four months after she spoke to the LAUSD board. 

Read her statement to the board.

Before the first unions were formed, and before workers gained the legal right to unionize, there were women and men who recognized a simple truth: In a workplace, employees united around shared values, concerns, and interests gain an influential power the individual worker does not possess, and this power gives everyone a collective voice to advocate for themselves and for all workers.

But uniting people was no easy task, and didn’t happen on its own. It took leadership and commitment from people willing to stand up in the face of intimidation and retaliation, to organize and fight for the right to unionize and bargain as a group. And when that right was won, the power gained from unionizing was wielded to improve their livelihoods, improve their working conditions, to gain employer-paid benefits, and so many more things that have raised the standard and quality of living for all Americans.

The unions we’re a part of today are the legacy of these people who led and organized in workplaces across the country. As union members today, we have a responsibility to carry on this legacy for all workers, our families, and to leave behind a better world for future generations.

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