Don Seaquist presided over his last meeting as United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1189’s top officer last night. But Seaquist, who’s served as president of the local since 2003, did not go quietly into retirement.
After thanking Local 1189’s members and staff, as well as his family members in attendance, Seaquist led his favorite chant one last time: “Tell me what democracy looks like? This is what democracy looks like!”
“It’s one I learned outside the State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, with 300,000 of my closest friends,” Seaquist said.
Seaquist worked 23 years as a meat-cutter before going to work for St. Paul-based UFCW Local 789 as a union representative in 1994. Elected secretary-treasurer in 2001, Seaquist succeeded Bill Pearson as president two years later.
In 2010, Seaquist helped guide a merger with the Duluth-based UFCW local, out of which Local 1189 was born.
Members, staff and even a representative of Supervalu, one of Local 1189’s employers, offered thanks and well-wishes to Seaquist during his final meeting. They praised his fairness, candor and willingness to embrace change, from using new technology like social media to identifying the growth potential of medical cannabis, an industry in which workers are represented locally by the UFCW.
“We tried to dare to be different,” Seaquist said. “You can’t be afraid of change.”