Delia Gorham, 32, of Portland was a child when she attended weekly meetings with her family during the Jay labor strike against International Paper Co.

Her mother, brother and her father, Eddie Gorham, who was secretary-treasurer of the Maine AFL-CIO at the time, would make the long drive to Jay from Randolph.

“They always stopped at a small local store to grab us a snack before loading me in a stroller or propping me up on their shoulders for the meeting or the march that would be happening on any given day,” she wrote in an email.

“As a child, the heavy circumstances weren’t something I was aware of,” Gorham said.

She considered the weekly meetings and marches an exciting adventure.

“The striking workers, their families and all the other people involved in the labor movement who turned out were the embodiment of solidarity,” Gorham said. “There were always other kids to play with, adventures to be had and a palatable buzz in the room as people across the state and the country were fighting for workers’ rights.”

The venues that hosted the meetings were always packed.

“I’m sure I had never been around that many people in my life before, and it was a sight to take in as a young child. My parents tell me I was not shy at all during these meetings,” she said.

“The Jay strike is where I learned how to use the power of a microphone and make my voice heard. The adults were always passing the mic to each other to lead chants and make speeches and somehow it found its way to me more than once.

“Jay is where I learned to get a room going by starting the ‘Scabs out, Union in!’ chant and it was so exciting to have hundreds of other people join in,” she said. “Without realizing it, my parents were instilling in me the values of solidarity and fighting for what is right, and I’ve run with it my whole life.”

A year after the strike, “my brother was in a Christmas pageant at our local church. There was a microphone on stage and I was really confused when I ran up to it and started chanting “Scabs out, union in!” that no one in the congregation joined in …”

Gorham helps nonprofit organizations with their data systems.

Delia Gorham is held by her father, Eddie Gorham, who is wearing a “Just Say No” to IP button on his lapel. The family lived in Randolph and regularly drove to Jay to support striking IP mill workers.

Delia Gorham


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