In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Labor Bosses in the Sky
The passing of Frank Garrison, the former President of the state AFL-CIO, means all the old school labor leaders who once prowled the political stage in this town are now gone. To be "old school" your DNA had to contain passion, stubbornness, the ability to make a threat and keep it, and an unflinching devotion to the movement which superceded all else. Frank Garrison was the personification of all that and then some and he shared those traits with the likes of Bill Marshall, Sam Fishman, Steve Yokitch, Owen Beiber, Leonard Woodcock, Doug Fraser, and August "Gus" Scholls." Mr. Garrison was not the tallest guy in the room, but he cut a wide path at a time when labor tossed its weigh around in the Michigan House and Senate. He was never bashful about doing that, either. Mr. Garrison had a tough exterior but beneath it all, he was a lover of his wife Dora, his family and grand kids who gathered at the family retreat on a lake near Cadillac far away from the trenches of the state capitol. "It was good that he had time to enjoy that," reflected one of Garrison's former henchmen. With Mr. Garrison you always knew where he stood. "Spin" was not in his lexicon. Neither was B.S. although he could dish it out when it served his purposes. He was never a gracious loser but always returned to the game, on behalf of his union brothers and sisters, to fight another day. That's what he did in a Lansing hospital bed for 21 days with his spouse at his side. At one point, it actually looked as though he would prevail, but the next morning, he was gone. He's now in the big union hall in the sky with all the other labor bosses where minimum wages, workers comp reform, civil rights, strike threats and picket lines are but fond memories up there, while the legacy of their combined efforts to improve humankind down here, live on.