OKLAHOMA CITY -- Long-time union leader Judy Calhoun will speak to the Canadian County Democrats and friends at 7 p.m. on Tues., Oct. 11, at the Canadian County Technology Center, located at 6505 E. Highway 66 between Yukon and El Reno.
Calhoun currently serves as Oklahoma Democratic Party secretary in the Fourth Congressional District.
She was the first woman elected state lobbyist and chair of the State Political Action Committee for the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW).
UAW has more than 750 local unions with 390,000 active members and 600,000 retired members in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. The UAW currently has 2,500 contracts with some 1,700 employers.
Calhoun was hired by General Motors in 1979. She became a member of the UAW Local 1999 and then became active on the Women's Committee.
“The feeling of family and empowerment given by these women was incredible,” Calhoun said. “After working with the union, I realized how important organized labor was to the workers and their well-being.”
She was elected as a trustee in 1989, recording secretary in 1992 and financial secretary in 1998.
Calhoun was born in Carlsbad, New Mexico and raised in a working class family. Her father worked in the mines and was active in the United Mine Workers Union.
“My father fought for justice, safety and dignity along with his fellow workers,” Calhoun explained. “That's how I first learned about the strength in numbers and how important it is to stick together and take care of each other.”
She was bitten by the political bug in high school while serving as a delegate to Girl's State. She graduated from New Mexico State University with a bachelor’s of science degree in education and health science.
After graduation in 1976, Calhoun moved to Oklahoma and worked for Western Electric where she was a member of IBEW Local 2021 union.
To protect her ability to get a job in case of a lay-off which ultimately happened at GM, she returned to college in 1984, earning a license as a registered nurse from Oklahoma City Community College.
“I have always loved working and holding various offices in the Democratic Party,” Calhoun said. ” It is the party that cares about people and their quality of life. These principles are the same as a labor union's. Fairness and dignity for everyone is something I feel strongly about and will always fight for until the day I die.
“We heard Judy Calhoun give a rousing patriotic speech on Labor Day in Cleveland County," Canadian County Democratic Party Vice Chair Rodney Boegel said. “We are pleased to have her bring this message about the contributions of labor unions and the importance of working people to Canadian County.”
The Canadian County Democrats meet at 7 p.m. on the second Tues. of each month (except Dec.) at Canadian Valley Technology Center. The organization expects to announce a Dec. date for their Christmas Party soon. For more information, call 405-354-3189.