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Illinois labor movement mourns the death of Don Gibson

The Illinois Federation of Teachers and all of labor lost a stalwart advocate and great friend this month with the passing of Donald “Don” Gibson.

A teacher for 16 years in Gillespie CUSD #7 and the president of the Macoupin County Federation of Teachers, IFT Local 528, from 1969 to 1984, Gibson was a tireless labor activist who dedicated his career to growing the union and empowering his colleagues and all workers to have a voice in their professions.

Gibson’s efforts as Local 528 president were instrumental in strengthening the union and paving the way for the unprecedented growth experienced in the 1970’s and 80’s, even before Illinois passed collective bargaining into law in 1983. Gibson also presided over a successful strike in the early 80’s to secure critical seniority language and a written guarantee of the fair hiring practices for substitute teachers that employers had promised.

His efforts went far beyond the bargaining table and his own local. Gibson and his wife Beverly, also a longtime teacher and IFT member, personally supported the union and their brothers and sisters by providing a designated room in their own home for IFT staff to sleepover during countless late night bargaining sessions in the area. And by insisting that MCFT be affiliated with the Southwest Area Labor Council, he helped grow and strengthen not only his own local, but all of labor in downstate Illinois.
“He was union through and through,” said Jim Marcacci, a retired teacher and former Local 528 officer during Gibson’s term as president. “Don was so much more than a good union member – he was a great union leader.
Gibson was truly an advocate for all working men and women. His commitment to the labor movement set a high standard for all those who fight for worker justice to aspire to today.

The officers, staff, and members of the IFT extend our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Don Gibson.




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