#Throwback Thursday: Mike Rachford

By Pete Levine ·

Meet Mike Rachford, an AFSCME Retiree. This former Cincinnati auto mechanic tells it like it is. Thirty years ago, Mike had a complaint about a $2 dues hike, and he showed up at a meeting to give his local a piece of his mind. Little did he know that first meeting would lead to a decades-long relationship with his union. Even in retirement, Mike doesn’t mince words: get involved, he tells his fellow working and retiree members, if you want a secure future.

Q. What job did you do while working? For how long did you do it?

For 33 ½ years, I worked as an auto mechanic for the city of Cincinnati. I worked on anything from a lawnmower to a bulldozer.

Q. What do you miss most about working?

I’d say the employees that I worked with. They were more like a family to me than just co-workers. As a steward, and later as a local president, I got to know the people I worked with even better, and I got to know their families, as well.

Q. How did you get involved with AFSCME?

My involvement with the union began with a complaint. I was working as a mechanic’s helper. It was a two-year job you had to do before you were able to become a full mechanic. At the time, dues for mechanics helpers were increased by $2, while the full mechanics were getting a $3 an hour raise. We weren’t going to get anything. So, I showed up to a union meeting to tell them what they could do with their union.

Every union leader there told me I had to run for something. I listened to them. So, I went from serving on the executive board, to being a vice president, to becoming president. Over the years, I really learned what the union does and how it protects your rights, your job and your retirement.

As for that hike in dues, I’m happy to say that we came to a compromise – only a dollar increase in dues.

Q. What does having a secure retirement allow you to do now?

Well, I’m worried that even though we currently have a secure retirement, we may not for long. It used to be that our retirement was sound, but now it’s not. A lot of people worry about getting their health care taken away or cuts to their pensions and not being able to pay their bills. That’s why it’s so important to get members involved as retirees, so we can voice our opinions.

Q. What do you enjoy most about retirement? What is your favorite thing to do?

The pressure’s not on me anymore. I wake up when I want to wake up. I umpire baseball on the side, but I don’t have to. I cut some grass on the side, but only when I want to. I just miss the great bunch of people that I used to work with.