President Welton congratulates MSEA-SEIU Retiree Member and 2019 MSEA-SEIU Lifetime Achievement Award winner Lois Baxter.
By Ramona Welton
President, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989
In identifying a retiree member for our annual Lifetime Achievement Award, members of our Retirees Steering Committee look at a nominee’s participation, leadership and advocacy on retiree issues. They look for community engagement, advocacy in legislative and electoral processes, and support for fellow retirees.
This year, they found it all in Lois Baxter.
Members of our Retirees Steering Committee presented Lois with our 7th Annual Lifetime Achievement Award on May 28 during our 32nd Annual MSEA-SEIU Retirees Day.
Lois is as strong an advocate for retirees as you will find, not just because she serves on our Retirees Steering Committee and as our retiree representative on the State Employee Health Commission. She understands the importance of retirees speaking with a united voice in support of everyone’s health and retirement security.
Like many of you, I’ve known Lois for years through her service to our union both as a working member and as a retiree member. She’s a true champion of working families and retirees.
She began working for the State of Maine in 1976 as an eligibility specialist in the Maine DHHS food stamps, MaineCare and TANF-eligibility programs. As a single mother, she found herself income-eligible for the very benefits for whom she was making determinations for others. She knew it was only through her union that she could advocate for the wages, benefits and working conditions necessary to become self-sufficient and provide for her children.
Having become a MSEA member from Day One, she didn’t hesitate to participate in the walkout/sickout in protest of Governor Longley’s failure to negotiate a first contract.
Since those early days, she’s been active in our union, serving in numerous leadership capacities statewide as well as in her local chapter. Whether it was as chapter officer, delegate, board director or bargaining team member, she consistently accepted the call to serve, to lead.
Lois retired in 2007 after 31 years of state service. As a retiree, she serves retirees on the State Employee Health Commission. Her prior service on the commission while a working member gave her valuable history and depth of knowledge for this role. She has proven to be a strong advocate for all of us in this venue.
She knows and has a keen understanding of the role legislation and elections play in our lives; she has engaged in these processes through her participation in our PASER program, Political Action by Service Employees and Retirees, also from Day One. She works hard to get our endorsed candidates elected and then she holds them accountable.
In the community, she’s volunteered for Food AND Medicine’s Annual Solidarity Harvest. Caring Connections in Bangor is always happy to see her walk through the door. She coordinates meals for the Greater Bangor Area Homeless Shelter. With her church community, she organizes a monthly free baked-bean lunch for low-income and homeless people in the area. She also provides a meal and companionship each week to an elderly shut-in.
Her record of advocacy shows she not only met the criteria for the Lifetime Achievement Award but she also continues to live it each and every day. Please join me in congratulating Lois Baxter, our 2019 MSEA-SEIU Lifetime Achievement Award winner.