Florida – In Memoriam: Blondie P. Jordan
Blondie P. Jordan (Photo by Jordan Family)
Blondie P. Jordan, 76, president of AFSCME Florida Council 79 from 1983 until 1996 and a former AFSCME International vice president (IVP), passed away on Aug. 29.
Jordan, the daughter of Georgia sharecroppers, credited her struggles as a single parent raising six children for making “a real labor union person out of me… It made me determined to make America better for the oncoming generation.” Her determination to improve workers’ rights, particularly pay equity for women, began while working at Orlando’s Sunland Hospital in the mid-70s. She realized that women workers at the state-run facility for the mentally disabled were treated less favorably than their male counterparts.
“It seemed to me it was unfair to not have any say in what you are paid, but to have to depend on an arbitrary evaluation by someone who just automatically counts you out,” she said a decade later. “So I was ready when the representative from AFSCME came around, and I worked hard recruiting everyone I could to the union.”
Jordan’s co-workers rewarded her activism by electing her president and steward of newly formed Local 1967. “I guess the first time I realized what the union really could do,” she said, “was when I took an employee in to management and got their job back after they had been fired.”
At AFSCME’s 25th International Convention, in 1982, Jordan became the first African-American IVP from a southern state, representing the Caribbean region. The next year, she was elected president of Council 79. In that post, she continued to fight for women’s rights, following unassailable logic: “If we are going to be in the workforce, we want to make a dollar.” That’s the same dollar made by their male colleagues.
Commenting on her unique first name in a 1982 Public Employee interview, Jordan said, “When I was born, I was given the name ‘Blondie’ by one of my aunts. I’ve had a lot of problems with that name, and I never did find out why I got it.”