September 29, 2023


Business Woman

Kathleen Casavant, former highest-ranking woman in state’s unions, dies at 70

5 min read

Getting ascended to a highly effective union put up almost 25 a long time back, Mrs. Casavant preferred to ensure that other women of all ages and folks of coloration would comply with her into leadership roles.

Among the her priorities was operating with and serving on the board of the nonprofit Women’s Institute for Leadership Improvement to obtain and encourage women who experienced the likely to develop into officials.

“We cannot just put folks in place of work — due to the fact they have to be elected,” she observed in the Globe interview. “But we can assistance get ready them for management and we can get the word out that this unique man or woman has talent and means and really should be heard and offered a opportunity.”

Just after stepping down in 2006 as the state AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer, Mrs. Casavant served as government director of the Women’s Institute for Leadership Advancement, which goes by the acronym WILD.

The organization counts between its plans expanding participation in the labor motion by women and people of color, and expanding their affect in the management ranks of the labor motion.

“Kathy introduced in depth awareness of, and knowledge in, the Mass. labor movement, which benefited WILD enormously,” the group said in a tribute on its website, hailing her as “the only woman” to have held the state AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer submit.

“But a lot more than that, her passion for supporting and marketing the activism and leadership of women created her beloved by all people who came into WILD’s orbit,” the group claimed. “She was a leader, but also a instructor, a mentor, a mate. She will be endlessly in our hearts.”

Born on July 27, 1951, in Taunton, Kathleen Morin was the oldest of 4 young children and the only daughter of May Brown Morin, a school bus driver, and Arthur Morin.

In the 1998 interview, Mrs. Casavant claimed her father, who painted machinery in factories, was an alcoholic whose conduct created a “pretty dysfunctional” family.

“She was really elevated by her mother, who died a few years in the past,” stated Mrs. Casavant’s son, Brant of Medford. “Her mom was a actually stern determine. She was extremely no-nonsense and experienced a definitely sharp tongue and a sharp wit.”

Though Mrs. Casavant was rising up in Raynham, her mom discouraged her aspirations to go after better education and learning. “Forget it,” she stated whenever youthful Kathy broached the matter.

Though numerous years later on she graduated from the College of Massachusetts Boston with a bachelor’s diploma in labor relations, at age 13 she started working as a hat check out female at the Roseland Ballroom in Taunton, where by her mom was when a waitress.

“I uncovered to ballroom dance there mainly because the older men would usually check with me to dance,” Mrs. Casavant said.

Leaving property at 18, she moved to Newport, R.I., and worked as a secretary at Raytheon Co. in Portsmouth, 10 miles away.

Though in Newport she satisfied Arnold Casavant, who had just completed serving in the Navy and would go on to function as a schoolteacher for a lot of yrs. The few married in 1972.

“They met by happenstance. He preferred her and questioned her out,” their son mentioned. “She stood him up on their very first day, but he was persistent.”

Mrs. Casavant remaining Raytheon for a secretarial career in Tumble River, in which she explained she labored “for an eccentric guy who was shelling out me an govt secretary’s salary to pick up his kids in his Rolls-Royce and do the laundry. Naturally, I did not stay there for lengthy.”

She was 27 when she took a work as a bookkeeper and clerk at the Amalgamated Clothes and Textile Personnel Union in Southeastern Massachusetts.

Fascinated by tales that organizers informed of recruiting prospective union associates and handing out leaflets, she quickly widened her passions and involvement.

Climbing to grow to be a senior formal representing unionized textile workers during the region, she turned regarded for her prowess at negotiating contracts for immigrants in the workforce.

Even when she was an official who sat at negotiation tables, Mrs. Casavant insisted on also signing up for picket lines, collecting signatures, and lending her voice to protests.

Beneath her organization suit and qualified demeanor was an inspiring orator, Celia Wcislo, a longtime Service Staff members Worldwide Union official told the World in 1998.

Mrs. Casavant “literally bought the crowd to go berserk” although speaking at an anti-sweatshop demonstration, Wcislo said. “She is a great agitator. Set her in front of a mike, and she is not at all what she seems.”

In the mid-1990s, when the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union merged with a garment staff union, Mrs. Casavant kept her ACTWU New England chapter title of secretary-treasurer with the New England chapter of the freshly fashioned Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees, or UNITE. (That union and the Resort Staff members and Cafe Staff members union subsequently fashioned UNITE Below.)

She campaigned for escalating the minimum wage and advocated on behalf of gals of color who ended up mistreated in textile sector work opportunities.

“Some of the workers complained of getting timed when they went to the rest room,” Mrs. Casavant explained, “and there was a circumstance exactly where some were using function household and receiving pretty very little pay out.”

In 2006, quickly immediately after leaving the Massachusetts AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer publish, she was appointed to a management put up with the nationwide AFL-CIO unity partnership staff.

Among the her obligations was encouraging instructors to be a part of unions in states from Maine to Wyoming, and she and her partner relocated for a time from Massachusetts to Washington, D.C.

“They had been inseparable,” their son stated of his mothers and fathers, and that bond ongoing into Mrs. Casavant’s last months with Alzheimer’s, when Arnie Casavant was her most important caregiver.

In the times considering that Mrs. Casavant died, Brant stated, dozens of men and women have arrived at out, “and they all communicate of her as getting a mentor, currently being extremely type, and remaining unbelievably passionate about the labor movement and women’s roles in labor and the office.”

In addition to her partner and son, Mrs. Casavant leaves two brothers, Robert of Colorado and Richard of California.

Household and mates will gather to rejoice the lifestyle of Mrs. Casavant at 5 p.m. on June 5 in the IBEW Nearby 103 in Dorchester.

Ahead of turning into secretary-treasurer of the condition AFL-CIO, Mrs. Casavant experienced been the 1st woman to provide as govt vice president of the firm.

She was keenly informed of what her groundbreaking standing would imply for ladies who followed.

“Ten many years back, it wasn’t probable to go into these varieties of positions,” Mrs. Casavant instructed the World in 1997. “Now, girls are commencing to see that there is hope. We now comprise close to 40 per cent of all arranged workers in this state and the figures are developing.”

Bryan Marquard can be reached at [email protected]. | Newsphere by AF themes.