Saturday we said goodbye to Carol Golubock, a tenacious, beautiful fighter, wife and mother. Carol died too soon. I met Carol shortly after going to work at SEIU in 1999. SEIU was working to pass needle-stick legislation, and Carol was working with my colleague Madeleine Golde. Nurses and other health care workers were dying because they were contracting AIDS and other deadly diseases, because of accidentally needle sticks. Only the cost of a postage stamp, hospitals didn’t want to spend the extra money or be mandated use safe sharps. They would rather risk the lives of their workers.
Carol was brilliant because she would find a way to use existing law, regulations, ordinances or codes to organize and gain collective bargaining for low wage workers, or ensure worker protection, as in the case of needle stick. Madeleine and I loved working with Carol.
Carol also was an architect of creating public agencies for home health care aides so SEIU and other unions could negotiate better wages for low wage workers. Carol changed the lives of thousands, possibly millions of workers. A few years later she designed models to organize childcare workers, again to raise their wages and improve their lives. Those workers never knew or even heard of Carol, but she knew them. She spent her work life fighting for invisible workers (home care workers, childcare workers, healthcare) who care for our parents, children and disabled individuals, but made less than minimum wages, have no healthcare insurance, or their own or retirement. Carol climbed mountains, and rode her bike to work everyday regardless of weather. She was a super woman in spandex.
Home care workers, the individuals who help the elderly and disabled live in their own homes, can work around the clock. There is no 8-hour day, no overtime, no worker’s compensation should they hurt themselves; they worked for pennies.
But they had Carol Golubock on their side. She never sought the lime light or even took credit for all her amazing work. You had to love Carol for her commitment, compassion, and infectious smile. She always made time to chat, and help work through problems. I am not a lawyer, but have worked with many. Carol was the very best kind of lawyer, because she loved to bend and shape the law, to help workers both union members and non-members.
So, when Carol retired to sail with her loving husband Arthur we all cheered her well-deserved retirement. But it was short. Carol suffered some weakness and dizziness and was diagnosed with brain cancer. She fought like hell to survive and see her daughters Beccah and Sarah married and begin their own adult lives, but Carol lost her battle this month.
We gathered at SEIU and told stories, gave tribute and celebrated Carol’s life. Only the good die young.
This past year Joyce Moscato also lost her battle to ovarian cancer. Joyce worked at SEIU organizing health care workers. Joyce dedicated her life to improving the lives of workers. Her obituary read, “ Joyce Moscato, an innovative strategist who pioneered new ways for working Americans to organize and advocate for better jobs and stronger communities, died on January 17, 2017 in Herndon, VA. She was 60″.
But her own life was not easy. After a longtime relationship with a colleague, he dumped her after cheating with another younger co-worker. Joyce was devastated and questioned her ability (or sanity) to keep working at SEIU. We spent a sunny afternoon on a Dupont Circle park bench talking about career options. Joyce stayed at SEIU, and would later fall in love with a good man. Fortunately, Captain Dave was not in the labor movement. He wasn’t one of the many union men who slept with their co-workers or even worse union members. Joyce and Dave sailed off into the sunset together. But Joyce was diagnosed with cancer and lost her battle. Again, I loving woman’s life cut too short.
Lisa Codispoti also worked at SEIU and we became friends. Lisa and her husband Shawn visited me at sister Robin’s Long Island house one August. Lisa and I walked door-to-door on political campaigns and our offices were directly across from each other on the 8th floor. We were often the last people on the floor after 7 p.m. The night Lisa cleaned out her office to leave SEIU for a better job at the National Women’s Law Center, I listened to her sobbing as she packed her boxes. Lisa loved SEIU. Not the craziness. But the workers, we all loved the members, because we were making a difference in people’s lives. Lisa suffered from a chronic auto-immune disease, although you would never have known by looking at her. Bright and beautiful, with a fantastic sense of humor. Lisa died suddenly, and I miss her and think of her often, especially when I am on Long Island where Lisa grew up.
So my friends Carol, Joyce and Lisa, I am thinking of you when I sing:
May the works I’ve done speak for me.
May the works I’ve done speak for me.
When I’m resting in my grave,
There’s nothing more to be said;
May the works I’ve done
Let it speak for me.
These amazing woman are with me in my travels, and remind me everyday live, love and laugh.