Tut Tate
(1948 — 1998)

As remembered by Juadine Henderson

I was searching for an old friend who worked in Mississippi from 1965-68 and I found an Obituary for her in the Sacramento Bee (enclosed). I would appreciate you listing her in the In Memoriam column.

Juadine Henderson


Tut Tate, an activist for civil and workers' rights, died Tuesday in her Sacramento home of lung cancer. She was 49.

Ms. Tate, an administrator for the civil service division of the California State Employees Association for eight years, was the first African American to hold the position, one of the most prominent within the CSEA. William Lucy, secretary treasurer of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union and president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, said he met Ms. Tate in the late 1960s when she joined AFSCME's political action staff in Washington, D.C.

"It didn't take long to determine that we had a polished diamond," he said. "She worked diligently on campaigns across this nation. She did an outstanding job. She cared about people.

"She was determined to make life better for working people and their communities, and she understood that the labor movement and political action were instruments she could use to do this," Lucy said.

Ms. Tate was hired by CSEA in 1975 as an employee relations representative and was promoted to senior labor relations representative and assigned to the organization's largest bargaining unit in 1982.

In 1983, she negotiated ground-breaking, across-the-board pay adjustments of as much as 20 percent for 34,000 state office and allied workers. The next year, she pushed through language that established a $1 million pilot child-care project, and she served on the committee that formulated standards for on-site child care.

She was promoted in 1988 to manager of the association's bargaining services department, with responsibility for negotiating contracts covering about 80,000 state workers.

"Tut was an excellent worker," said Jim Milbradt, her supervisor and general manager of CSEA. "Her love was serving the people of California. She had integrity and the respect of the various departments that we represent employees in.

"When there were conditions that were adversarial, she was always there for the members. She was a mentor to many co-workers and respected by the leadership of the state."

Born in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 12, 1948, she attended Bishop College and New York University.

Ms. Tate worked in voter registration campaigns for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Mississippi and led a contingent of the Poor People's Campaign in the march on Washington, D.C., in 1968.

From there, she worked as a field representative with the AFSCME in Los Angeles and organized Los Angeles city workers after passage of collective-bargaining laws.

Survivors include her partner, Richard Harris of Sacramento; a daughter, Tut Elise of Sacramento; her mother, Sadie Tate of Washington, D.C.; and a sister, Sally Canaday of Washington, D.C.

CSEA's headquarters office in Sacramento and the union's field offices statewide will be closed on Monday in remembrance of Ms. Tate. It is the first time the union has granted such an honor.

Copyright © 1998 The Sacramento Bee

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