Remembering Judy Shattuck, social justice advocate, tireless supporter of organized labor

Judy Shattuck, who died on Aug. 1, 2018. Photo: Courtesy of family

Judith Rankin Shattuck, rank-and-file union activist and social justice advocate, died Aug.1 at her home in Berkeley, age 76, from interstitial lung disease.

Born Nov. 18, 1941 in Urbana, Illinois, the daughter of Charles and Susan Shattuck, Judy came to Berkeley in 1961. She worked at UC Berkeley for over 40 years until her retirement in 2006, and was central to the effort to organize clerical workers at the University of California campuses into their first union, AFSCME.

In 1995, concerned about AFSCME’s neglect of the clerical bargaining unit, she helped found an independent union, the Coalition of University Employees (CUE), and helped lead the effort to win an election to replace AFSCME.

Judy was a tireless supporter of organized labor. In addition to holding union leadership positions in her own bargaining unit and representing untold numbers of employee grievants, she was a long-time delegate to the Alameda County Labor Council, AFL-CIO, a service that in 1994 led Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris to declare April 22, 1994 “Judy Shattuck Day.”

Judy could be found on picket lines, in peace marches, and at Black Lives Matters protests. She was arrested numerous times for engaging in civil disobedience for the causes she supported.

Aside from her union and justice work, Judy was well-known for her delightfully decorated pottery, her pollinator-friendly garden and her expert photography. Judy’s photographs graced the newsletters she edited for her union locals, and provide an important record of labor movements at the University of California, local politics, the anti-apartheid struggles of the 1980s, and, of course, her many friends and family. She spent hours documenting the birds, butterflies, flowers, beetles, and other small details that escape the notice of most others.

Judy is survived by her son, Benjamin Sarason, her sister, Kate Green, her brother, Steve McNamara, and her many friends, all of whom will miss her love of potatoes, her generous spirit, her commitment to social justice, and her sly sense of humor.