Eliot Seide Communications Award: Barb Laidlaw, Local 701

This year we are honoring a member who has exhibited extraordinary service to our union and projected a bold, strong vision of what it means to be a leader, an effective communicator, and a change agent.

We in the Legislative Department at Council 5 work every day as your eyes and ears at the Capitol, but there is no way we could do our job effectively without the sustained pressure that all of you put on Legislators and the Administration to do the right thing and fight for working people.

Our union is under constant attack from corporate special interests that may outspend us in terms of money, but they will never beat our people power.This year’s award recipient took on a battle that seemed like it was over before it even began, facing great odds from both sides of the aisle.

When her rural Minnesota facility was slated to close after being operational for more than 30 years, Barb was first and foremost concerned about the residents’ well-being. How would this impact their treatment. Where they would go for help. How far will they have to go.

She never backed down, she never gave up, and she always fought hard for the people that she serves and cares for every single day through her boldness and persistence.

Barb organized her local to make calls to Legislators, testified repeatedly at the Capitol in legislative hearings, and yes, was even successful in working with her management on this effort that would yield incredible results for the vulnerable population she cares so deeply about.

Instead of this facility closing- through grit, determination, and heart, this year’s award recipient’s work resulted in Legislators and the Governor appropriating more than $10 million to build and operate a brand new facility with a bed increase so they could care for more children.

Barb's tireless activism proves that when we as union members work together in the halls of power towards a common goal, absolutely anything is possible. Congratulations, and thank you, Barb!