I’m a proud founding member of Big Sky 55+, a non-profit statewide group that advocates for older Montanans and for a healthy Montana. We are the newest members of Montana Unified, a coalition formed to fight for worker rights.

At first glance, Montanans 55 and over might seem like an unlikely group to join Montana Unified. After all, many of us are retired and others are closing in on that goal. But far from being a single-issue group, Big Sky 55+ takes the long view on issues that matter.

A good example is our opposition to anti-worker bills introduced by Republican extremists in Montana’s legislature. These bills would harm Montana’s workers by interfering with the relationship between democratically elected worker organizations, our unions, and employers. By imposing a tangle of red tape, the bills aim to weaken unions.

Montana has a long history of strong unions. The more people belong to a union in a state, the better the average wages and working conditions of all workers whether they belong to a union or not. The more workers are unionized in a state, the lower the workplace injuries and deaths, and the lower the infant mortality rate. The higher the percentage of union workers, the higher the percentage of people with health insurance. And the list goes on.

Older people care about our friends, neighbors, and families. We know living wages and safe working conditions are necessary for the strong families, strong communities, and strong public services that allow all of us to thrive. We want our children and grandchildren to be able to work, prosper and yes, retire, in this state we love. And we wonder, why, in the middle of a pandemic, are Republican legislators so determined to make life even tougher for hard-working Montanans?

— Terry Minow, Vice-chair of Big Sky 55+, Boulder

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