Growing and strengthening west Michigan's middle class
GRAND RAPIDS February 5, 2016– RiChard Jackson, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 836, has been chosen as the 2016 recipient of the Martha Reynolds Labor Award– one of 13 Giants Awards, given annually by Grand Rapids Community College to honor notable contributions by African-Americans in the Grand Rapids area.
In a recent Grand Rapids Press feature story, RiChard outlined the things inspire him, lessons he’s learned and some of the challenges he faces as a union leader:
Inspiration: “I’m inspired by the small components that lay the framework for big changes – the shortcomings that birth new ideas, the mistakes that bring forth focus and creativity. As obscure as it may sound, mistakes for me breed character thus bringing change.”
Life Lesson: “You can’t be the player and the coach – it just doesn’t work. There’s a time and place to implement both viewpoints. In my opinion, choosing a position and executing it to your full potential is important.”
Challenge: “No matter how hard you try, in attempting to complete everything you set out to accomplish, something will be missed. Capturing the essence of the big picture, there are many details each important to the mission. However, making a decision about what elements to use and how they mingle makes for a very difficult task.”
For the past year, RiChard has been working tirelessly to ensure that the members of his local can retire with security and dignity. Since early 2015, management at The Rapid has been attempting to push the region’s bus drivers and mechanics into a stock market-based retirement plan, but ATU Local 836 membership, under RiChard’s leadership, has refused to budge from their desire to keep their defined benefit plan.
RiChard and the 12 other Giants Award honorees will be recognized at a banquet tomorrow night at DeVos Place.
Since 1983, thirteen African American individuals and/or organizations are recognized annually for their exceptional contributions shaping the history and quality of life of greater Grand Rapids. The idea for this event grew out of need for recognizing notable contributions of African Americans to the quality of life in Grand Rapids. The founders for this event, Dr. Patricia Pulliam and Cedric Ward decided to engage a group of people from the community to plan the event.
The awards recognize the contributions from all aspects of community life. Each award is named after local individuals who have given excellence and is a perpetual memorial to their notable contributions.
Proceeds from the event are contributed to the Grand Rapids Community College Foundation’s Milo M. Brown Memorial Scholarship Fund. Two or more scholarships are awarded annually. The scholarships are presented to African American students as perpetual memorials to Mr. Brown.