Sudden Showers Slowed Neither the Pace nor the Enthusiasm
The labor organization of the University of Arkansas again participated in the area’s Pride events, the 2nd annual Trans March and 18th annual Pride Parade, June 18, 2022. The crowd easily numbered in the thousands.
The day’s small chance for rain turned to 100 percent 45 minutes before the Parade’s 5 p.m. start. The steady shower slowed for most of the event — flowing west along the whole commercial section of Dickson Street — then drenched onlookers and participants as the rally ended at the foot of the campus.
The PRIDE registered student organization hosted several UA groups including UA-Fayetteville Education Association/Local 965, marching as one unit among other entities, proficiently overseen by Northwest Arkansas Equality with assistance by the city of Fayetteville and law enforcement.
Holding the 965 banner were the local’s vice president, Mike Pierce, and secretary, Ben Pollock, joined by board member Chad Kieffer as well as member Trish Starks.
Kieffer and Gliszinksi represented Local 965 for the noon Trans March, the second annual.
While individual members of UA-Fayetteville Education Association / Local 965 have participated individually in years past, the union participated as an entity in 2021 and now. The event is organized where various University of Arkansas groups participate as its own unit, organized by the registered student organization UARK PRIDE, celebrating its 40th anniversary. The daylong Pride Festival including the march and parade were proficiently overseen by Northwest Arkansas Equality with assistance by the city of Fayetteville and law enforcement.
One in-person University of Arkansas event that was sorely missed during the coronavirus pandemic has been the Staff Appreciation Picnic each spring. It returned May 19, 2022, with more than 1,000 support employees coursing through the concessions corridor of Reynolds Razorback Stadium for lunch. On their way out an incredible number stopped at the table of Local 965.
They picked up brochures and souvenirs, and many dozens signed up for the campus union’s mailing list.
” A big day for the Local 965,” said 965 President Bret Schulte. “We were bowled over by the interest.”
Running the table in addition to Schulte, were Vice President Mike Pierce, Treasurer Hershel Hartford, At-Large Board Member Chad Kieffer, member John Riley and Arkansas Education Association UniServ Director Renee Johnson. Secretary Ben Pollock did advance work.
This is the biggest event of the year where Local 965 members can explain to UA support staff who we are. The purpose is education not recruitment.
By the way, lunch included hot dogs, grilled chicken breasts with barbecue sauce, Beyond vegan burgers as well as potato salad, veggie baked beans and chips, with ice cream and snack cakes for dessert along with cold drinks. A great late spring day on the Fayetteville campus.
Hundreds of students took the lunch break on the third day of classes to walk through Razorbash 2021, and Local 965 with officials of the Arkansas Education Association were on hand to greet them.
The University of Arkansas hosts Razorbash early every fall on the commons between the Arkansas Union and Mullins Library. It is an “information fair for students to engage with local businesses, national chains and non-profit organizations throughout Northwest Arkansas,” according to the Office of Student Activities.
Running the booth for Local 965 were President Bret Schulte, Secretary Ben Pollock and at-large board members Patrick Williams and Chad Kieffer. Joining in from Little Rock were Carol Fleming, AEA president, and Karla Carpenter, AEA manager of organizing & field services, and from Springdale was Renee Johnson, AEA UniServ director.
Besides explaining the advantages of AEA membership to UA faculty and staff members who dropped by, undergraduate education majors and graduate students interested in careers that may include K-12 education learned about the benefits of the Student AEA.
Our table likely gathered more interest than previous years because of more colorful display banners from both the 965 and AEA and even the benefit of shade from the canopy bought that hot August morning by Karla.
UA-Fayetteville Education Association/Local 965 was represented in both parades in their city honoring the LGBTQ community, during the June 2021 Pride Month. The Northwest Arkansas events were organized by NWA Equality.
The first was Thursday evening, June 24, the first Trans March in Arkansas. The parade went from the Walton Arts Center to the Town Center. The march and rally were intended to increase visibility and empower transgender, nonbinary, gender variant and gender nonconforming people to come out, as well as protest the state Legislature’s passage of transgender laws, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
At noon Saturday, June 26, a few hundred marchers organized in several dozen groups took part in the 17th annual NWA Pride Parade began near St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, moving west on Dickson Street to the edge of the University of Arkansas campus. Thousands watched and applauded from the sidewalks of Dickson, the city’s main entertainment district.
Lining up for the Local were President Bret Schulte, Vice President Mike Pierce, Secretary Ben Pollock, at-large board member Ted Swedenburg and member Tricia Starks. Other union members marched with other groups in the parade, including at-large board member Chad Kieffer.
We would be remiss if we failed to note the obvious: The Covid pandemic is ending but not over and Saturday’s event is not a good look. We were heartened and grateful that parade organizers and city management arranged the participant groups carefully using health protocols. The current safety guidelines for large gatherings were honored by those participating IN the parade — generally standing at least 6 feet apart and so forth.
That the thousands of onlookers mobbed up shoulder to shoulder like old times with no face coverings and so forth is a worry. We only can hope that the sorts of people who support the principles the parade espoused know the safety and efficacy of the new coronavirus vaccines and got their shots weeks ago.
Members of Local 965 joined with area progressives March 20 to support workers at the Bessemer, Alabama, Amazon facilities to join a union to boost their wages to that of similar workers in the area and to improve work conditions.
Announcement of rally, March 19, 2021
We of UA-Fayetteville Education Association / Local 965 decided at our monthly membership meeting March 18 to actively support union organizing efforts at the Amazon facilities in Bessemer, Alabama. Specifically, we are asking our members and supporters to attend — safely, with masks and social-distancing — a rally outside the Fayetteville Whole Foods Market 1:30-3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 20, 2021. March 20 will also represent U.N. World Day Against Racism.