Catherine Jackson has a request. Don’t call her Catherine, call her Kat.
Since she’s playing nice at the moment, she’ll let you think it was a request.
Whether she’s working the relief shift at her job, engaging in protected concerted activity, cheering on her children, or skating for her roller derby team, Kat gives her fervor to everything she does.
“I’m passionate about being a member of something,” she stated.
Born and raised in Coquille, Oregon, Kat has been working in the town’s plywood factory for nearly two years. After the recording secretary for Local 2784 went back to school, Kat volunteered for the role. Her father is a Local 2784 retiree, so Kat sees a tradition in the union and her family. She is also a shop steward.
She currently works the relief shift, which allows her to be involved in her children’s lives, attending sports practices and games. She has two boys and one girl all of whom are engaged in various sports.
Kat is no stranger to sports herself. After seeing an ad for a roller derby team, Kat signed up.
“I was at a point in my life that I needed to do something for myself,” she explains. She also states that she is much taller than the average roller derby player, who are typically about five and a half feet tall or shorter. After a few practices, Kat states she “fell in love” with roller derby.
Her team plays for the Adventure Coast Roller Derby league, and their team name is the Star Stompers. When she puts on her skates, she goes by the name Alley Kat. The team practices three times a week, but due to the hours required for the relief shift Kat can usually only make one of them.
When the roller derby is skating it is referred to as a bout. Kat’s team travels as much as two and a half hours to skate in their bouts. The roller derby league skates year round, only taking a break in July. Kat’s team is young, and they have played in about eight bouts. They recently score their first win after two years of skating.
Carrying that energy from her bouts, Kat also shows dedication to her union local. Not only does she serve as recording secretary, but she has been able to get people to the “top of the hill” to participate in protected concerted activity.
“Our contract ended in June, and the company had some changes we weren’t going to stand for with our hours, insurance, and our pensions,” she states.
As she explained, for many of the younger members of the local longer shifts and a reduction in benefits may have sent as serious a message to the younger workers, as it did to her. She is in her mid-thirties and raising a family.
“For a 19-year-old, it may not seem like such a big deal,” she states. “When you lose something it is hard to get it back. I just wanted there to be a fair contract.”
The mill where Kat works is located at the bottom of a hill, and is only accessible by one way streets. In other words, there is one way in and one way out. Her mother owns a business on the “top of the hill,” so management would see she and her colleagues engaging in protected concerted activity when they entered and exited the mill. Also, the location placed the mill workers close to the highway where drivers could witness their activity and honk and wave in support.
Through her strong team and leadership skills, she was able to get a strong showing at the top of the hill, influencing the contract negotiations.
Kat Jackson plays a mean game. Whether she is rallying her local brothers and sisters to fight for their contract, setting a remarkable example for her children, or donning her Alley Kat moniker and skating hard in a bout, Kat sets a great example for the Millennials to follow showing them what it means to be dedicated to her union, her family, and herself.
“I get to go to my kid’s practices and be involved in a way that makes me happy,” she stated. “I really enjoy what I am doing.”