Bob Galloupe, center, receives our 2017 MSEA-SEIU Lifetime Achievement Award from then-MSEA-SEIU President Ramona Welton and MSEA-SEIU Retiree Member Bob Ruhlin.
It’s with a heavy heart we share that legendary MSEA-SEIU Retiree Member Bob Galloupe, age 91, of Brunswick, died June 30, 2022.
Bob was thinking of his fellow union brothers and sisters to the end, according to his surviving wife of 42 years, Ann Galloupe. “He loved the union. That was first in his thoughts,” Ann said July 6. “He loved the people.”
For over 50 years since joining state service as a license examiner back in 1971, a job he held for 22 years until his retirement in 1993, Bob has advocated for all of us. He took a leadership role early on in developing our union into the fighting force we’ve become today.
As an MSEA member in the 1970s, Bob wrote our union’s constitution and bylaws. He helped us win the right to collective bargaining under Maine law. He participated in our earliest collective bargaining sessions that formed the basis of our Executive Branch contracts. Throughout all of his advocacy, he always served as a mentor to current and future union leaders, explaining what our union is about and what we stand for.
Bob Galloupe and fellow Retiree Members Peggy Rice and Frank Kadi in 2015 inviting recent retired workers to join our union as retiree members to advocate on health and retirement security issues.
Over the decades, Bob remained a strong, and at times, a vocal guardian of our by-laws. He was quick to make sure they were followed as intended. He was affectionately known as “Mr. Robert’s Rules” of Order for frequently bringing up points of order during our annual meetings.
He served on scores of our committees. While working for the State of Maine, he served as a chapter delegate, chapter officer and as a member of the MSEA Board of Directors. He served on numerous MSEA statewide committees, bargaining committees and bargaining teams. That part of his leadership status covers his 22 years as a working member of MSEA.
He continued his union activism in his retirement. He was visible through the years as both an active and retiree member in statewide legislative and electoral campaigns, including lobbying the Legislature many times. In retirement, he advocated for fellow retirees as both a co-chair and member of our Retirees Steering Committee, as a delegate and member of our Southern Maine Retirees Chapter, and as a member of our Elections Review Committee. He was a contributing member of our political action committee, PASER, Political Action by Service Employees and Retirees.
Bob Galloupe emceeing our 2018 MSEA-SEIU Retirees Day.
For his lifetime of union activism, Bob received our 2017 MSEA-SEIU Lifetime Achievement Award.
We had the opportunity to interview Bob back in 2018 as part of a story celebrating our union’s 75th anniversary. For that story, Bob explained he was born in Bath, raised in Hallowell and graduated from Hallowell High School. He began an apprenticeship to become an undertaker but soon decided against that and in January of 1951 enrolled in the Army. He served as a medic and ambulance driver in the Korean War. He helped with the transportation and medical needs of prisoners exchanged between allied and North Korean forces.
He left Korea in June of 1953, returned to Maine and began a career in the food distribution industry, first with a meatpacking distributor based in Gardiner, and later for a company selling cleaning chemicals used in the food industry. After seeing job cuts through corporate consolidations in the food industry, he began working as a State of Maine license examiner in 1971, joined MSEA and embarked on his over 50 years of union activism.
Looking back over his lifetime of union activism, Bob in our 2018 interview said one enduring strength is our membership engagement in the legislative and electoral processes, since the jobs held by most MSEA-SEIU members are publicly funded. “We’ve had some good turnouts at the Legislature at times,” he said, mentioning the advocacy necessary to get state employee contracts funded.
He recalled the debates among MSEA members in the late 1980s as we considered affiliation with a larger union, the Service Employees International Union. At first, he said, he was reluctant to affiliate. “But as we got closer to the (affiliation) election, we thought it over and, yeah, maybe we should go with it. We began to see it was the thing to do.”
MSEA members voted in 1989 to affiliate with SEIU. Affiliation has helped provide our union with resources and expertise that we otherwise wouldn’t have had, Bob said in 2018, adding that SEIU provided substantial assistance to us in the 1990s when the State Employee Health Insurance Plan was under attack. With SEIU’s, help, he said, MSEA-SEIU members have defended and protected the health plan covering state workers. Today, as the Maine Service Employees Association, Local 1989 of the Service Employees International Union, we’re part of an over 2 million member union.
Bob’s commitment to public service went beyond his military service and his union service. In retirement, he served from 1995 to 2007 on the Brunswick Town Council. In our 2018 interview, he said we all have a responsibility, both as a citizens and unionists, to advocate for the quality public services we count on, to educate ourselves on related issues, and to be informed voters.
Our thoughts are with Ann and her family at this difficult time. Rest in Power, Bob Galloupe!
Bob Galloupe joining in a discussion at our 2018 Annual Meeting.