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Dept. of Goodbye

Jerry Minkkinen

One of my oldest and dearest union colleagues, Jerry Minkkinen, died Friday. I am still trying to come to grips with the news. 

He was the first Newspaper Guild official I met when I was hired by Pioneer Press in 1983. He didn't introduce me to unionism; I'd been a union officer at my previous newspaper job, and I already believed in the union movement. But he taught me so much about how to make day to day unions work for their members - for us - that it's a debt I could never repay.

Jerry combined a street fighter's instincts, with the seductive charm of a troubadour - he could hold a room in thrall, something I experienced many times - and the formula worked for us far more often than not, whether it was sitting at the table with successive waves of increasingly nasty managements, fighting grievances on behalf of individuals or the union as a whole, or giving us tips on how to fight for ourselves. He did this not just for my section of the union but for every Guild covered unit in the Chicago area. That's a lot of work for one person.

More than that, though, he was a good man, who gave his all to the union. He sacrificed health and family through much of his career, in order to help us. I am glad to know that in the last few years, he had much joy of his family.

He laughed often, was kind, was both fierce and gentle, and I am honored that we were colleagues and friends. There is so much more that I could tell you about him, but it all jumbles up in a tremendous Jerry-sized pile of stories. None of them will make up for the Jerry-sized hole his passing has left. 

I could only find one picture of him, but it's a fitting one; he was holding a union stewards' workshop. And here is a much, much better remembrance of him.  

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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 10th, 2018 07:17 pm (UTC)
So sorry to hear this.
Apr. 10th, 2018 07:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm finding it hard to believe that I won't see him at our monthly union local meeting tomorrow.
Apr. 10th, 2018 08:10 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry, dear. He sounds like a wonderful individual. *hugs*
Apr. 10th, 2018 08:15 pm (UTC)
He was. And although he'd be the first person to say that no one is irreplaceable, to me he's very close to irreplaceable.
Apr. 10th, 2018 09:28 pm (UTC)
I am so sorry, honey. Seems we are always losing those good people in our lives...may his path be blessed.

Apr. 10th, 2018 09:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks, my dear. He was a remarkable man, and I already miss him dearly.
Apr. 11th, 2018 05:11 am (UTC)
I'm sorry for your loss. And, from the way you describe him, I'm sorry I never got a chance to meet him.
Apr. 11th, 2018 01:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I, too, am sorry you didn't get to meet him; he was an amazing man.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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