‘A force of nature for justice’: Judy Shattuck, union activist, dies at 76

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Union activist Judith Rankin Shattuck, better known as Judy Shattuck, died Aug. 1 from interstitial lung disease at the age of 76, according to Berkeleyside.

Shattuck was a champion for social justice, according to Kathryn Lybarger, president of the UC’s largest employee union — American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 — of which Shattuck was an important and early member.

“I knew her as a leader, not just in terms of representing the interests of clerical workers,” Lybarger said. “Her impact was as a leader, and she was an advocate for all workers.”

Shattuck worked at UC Berkeley for more than 40 years and retired in 2006, according to Berkeleyside. Lybarger said Shattuck organized clerical workers in AFSCME Local 3299 and later founded the Coalition of University Employees.

“She was no pushover and was able to stay focused on the bigger picture,” Lybarger said. “She was able to help keep people focused and was a wonderful spirit to know. Honestly, she was so wise — really sharp intellect and really thoughtful.”

Shattuck was dedicated to the Berkeley community, said Igor Tregub, a colleague of Shattuck’s who is running for the District 1 Berkeley City Council seat. Tregub added that wherever there was a struggle to improve conditions, Shattuck would be there and could often be seen taking part in rallies or picket lines.

Lybarger said Shattuck would attend “all kinds of protests” and wanted to help those in need.

Tregub said he had seen Shattuck a few weeks before she died at a rally, where the two had an opportunity to catch up. He said he was shocked when he heard of her death and added that he met Shattuck 10 years ago when he was part of the Berkeley Commission on Labor.

“When she opened her mouth, we knew whatever she said was going to be important,” Tregub said. “I think her legacy lives in all of us who continue to do this kind of work. She inspired people to learn and help the vulnerable to improve their condition.”

Lybarger said that Shattuck had a “fantastic” sense of humor, was very warm but not a pushover, and could inspire those around her. She said she was grateful for Shattuck, who could enable different people to work together.

“You could be in a room of hundreds of people, and her personality would be larger-than-life,” Tregub said. “She truly was a force of nature for justice. She was someone who led by her actions rather than words.”

Shattuck is survived by her son Benjamin Sarason, her sister Kate Green, and her brother Steve McNamara, according to Berkeleyside.

Contact Suryan Bhatia at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @BhatiaSuryan.