In more than 50 years with United Steelworkers Local 6500, Angela Paquin worked for 11 of the 12 presidents of the city’s most powerful trade union, privy to the most confidential inner workings of the organization. But no matter who her boss was, it was always the members to whom Paquin felt the most loyalty.
Paquin went to work in the general administration office of United Steelworkers Local 6500 in 1965, just three years after the union was formed. Local 6500 had almost 20,000 members then. She was 18 and had just graduated from College Notre Dame.
Paquin had cut her teeth on mining and unionism. Her father, Roger Paquin, worked at Inco’s Coniston and Copper Cliff smelters, and was a founding member of USW Local 6500.
Neither Paquin likely imagined Angela would work for Local 6500 for more than 50 years, retiring last month from an organization housed in a bright, clean, completely renovated building serving 2,500 production and maintenance workers at Vale operations. However many members belonged to the local, Paquin said she can honestly say she enjoyed working with most of them.
Working for a union was never dull, Paquin said in an interview two days before her last shift at 66 Brady St. In five decades, she worked through 16 elections of Local 6500 officers and eight strikes by members against Inco and then Vale.
Paquin walked a picket line herself when five members of her union, which then was the Office and Professional Employees’ International Union, went on strike against USW Local 6500 for two weeks, fighting for better pensions.
Working for the union was challenging and not always enjoyable, Paquin admitted. But if she knows in which closets Local 6500’s skeletons are hanging, she’s not saying.
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