Happy Father’s Day to the Union Dads like My Dad

With my Dad visiting relatives in 2014 in New York (Dave Bahssin)

PITTSBURGH, PA. – Happy Father’s Day to all the union dads out there, especially my dad, who I can’t see today because I’m sick with the flu. Like many people who grew up with dads who were union activists, my dad inspired me a lot as a labor reporter. 

My dad spent 44 years working for the UE union, starting in 1977 when he was 24 and retiring at 68 in 2021. Despite being elected as the UE’s national Director of Organization in 2015, he never once made about $70,000 in his nearly fifty-year career as a union rep. 

My father continued the UE traditions started by my great Aunt Lucy and Uncle Herb, who served as UE organizers in the 1940s. 

My Uncle Herb, a World War Two combat veteran, was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee at a field hearing in Baltimore in 1957.

At the hearing, my Uncle Herb refused to be named and was fired from his job as a local math teacher. However, he helped to protect the UE from further red-baiting.

For all of my life, the sacrifices of my father, my family members and so many others have inspired me as a labor reporter. 

Happy Father’s Day to all the union Dads – union values begin in the household! Feliz Dia dos Pais!

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About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]