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Kindness Comes Home for Xmas Through Adopt-a-Family

An extra check from five CWA locals during the holiday season - $300 beyond what they sent every month - last year paid dental bills for a family of four. The check, to member Karen Tinsley, is typical of the exceptional generosity displayed through CWA's Adopt-a-Family program.

This holiday season marks the second anniversary of CWA's program to aid workers locked out by the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. Since its inception, more than 450 locals, staff and individuals, and the CWA Retired Members Council, have contributed more than $1.6 million in support to brothers and sisters in The Newspaper Guild-CWA and CWA's printing sector.

Large locals have pledged $500 per month and smaller locals, lesser amounts. Through all contributions combined, CWA has supported the families of 246 locked-out workers for as long as their need lasted. Some have worked full time in the movement to obtain justice for their colleagues, some have been rehired by the newspapers and others have moved on to another phase of their lives.

Every CWA or TNG-CWA member who applied to the program was adopted at the rate of $500 per month, and the ongoing generosity of contributors enables Adopt-a-Family to continue supporting 110 TNG-CWA and sector families.

All who have corresponded with CWA headquarters and adopting locals have been extremely grateful. At least one recipient thanked her benefactors face to face and inspired several new CWA leaders.

New York state CWA Locals 1051, 1151, 1152, 1153 and 1250, as the Northeast Caucus of Locals, combined pledges on a per capita basis to adopt, first, Tinsley, then later, CWA-TNG Local 22 member Sandra Davis, a former features editor at the Detroit Free Press. Davis has become familiar to many as a columnist for the Detroit Sunday Journal, a weekly newspaper produced by locked out workers and distributed throughout the labor movement.

Local 1152 President Mary Ellen Mazzeo took 11 new stewards to the massive Motown '97 action in Detroit this past summer, when tens of thousands of unionists rallied to support the locked out workers. They went hoping to meet Davis, and did.

"It was extremely emotional," says Mazzeo. "It had a big impact. Most of the stewards were brand new. They had never seen anything like this."

Wrote Davis, after receiving her first check from the caucus: "Financially and emotionally this has been a long, long struggle. There were many days when my husband and I didn't know how we would make it. May God bless and keep you - each and every one."

Kenneth Lawler, a sector member, was adopted by the CWA Retired Members Council, the first group to contribute to Adopt-a-Family when CWA President Morton Bahr announced the idea at a District 9 meeting in November 1995.

"One thing is for sure," writes Lawler. "The replacement workers will never experience the kind of unity that was displayed to me during this strike by my union brothers and sisters. I have really come to learn and appreciate what solidarity is all about."

One card received at headquarters carried the message every locked-out worker would like to write: "Thank you for all of your past financial support in our struggle for justice. Please be aware that I have returned to work and am no longer in need of assistance." It was signed, "The Hyde Family."

"Along with CWA Vice Presidents Linda Foley (TNG-CWA) and Bill Boarman (Printing Sector), I wish to convey my gratitude to all who have contributed to bring some level of support and reassurance to brothers and sister in need," said Bahr. "Your compassion is what binds us as a union and restores faith that not one CWA member will stand alone in the struggle."