Mike Silva, the PG&E retiree who held the Local 1245 Retirees Club together almost single-handedly for many years, died Oct. 30.
Silva, who retired around 1994, stepped up to take leadership of the East Bay Chapter of the Retirees Club when some of the union’s aging founders were still among its members, including Don Hardie and Tom Riley. At the time there was only one other chapter—in San Jose—and the club’s long-term viability at times seemed in doubt.
But Silva wouldn’t let the idea die. He believed that retirees had an important role to play in the life of the union, and he clearly felt that retirees had a responsibility to stand up for their rights in public life.
There were times when the chapter could barely muster a quorum, but Brother Silva soldiered ahead, serving not only as president of the East Bay Chapter but recorder as well. He e-mailed out the minutes of the meeting like clockwork every month, making sure Local 1245 remained aware that retirees were engaged in the life of the union.
When retirees in other areas began to stir at the beginning of the new century, Silva brought his experience and passion to the task of helping other chapters get started.
“I remember meeting Mike years ago when he was serving as the president of the East Bay Chapter, which at that time was meeting at union headquarters when it was still located in Walnut Creek,” said Ken Rawles.
When the union moved its headquarters to Vacaville, the East Bay Chapter of the Retirees Club relocated to Dublin. But Silva sensed an opportunity for the club to grow.
“Mike believed it was important for the club to have a chapter in Vacaville because it was the union’s headquarters and because we needed to give retirees in the Vacaville and Sacramento area a chance to get involved,” said Rawles. “He thought it should become the main chapter.”
Even as he continued to lead the East Bay Chapter, Silva joined Rawles in going to Vacaville to encourage the new chapter during its infancy. Silva also joined Rawles for meetings in Santa Rose to start a North Bay Chapter, and both men also drove to Merced at the inaugural meeting of the chapter there, offering their experience and support.
When retirees from all the chapters held special meetings at union headquarters in response to an alarming rise in health care premiums, Silva was welcomed as something of an elder statesman. When he spoke, people listened.
In one of many articles he wrote for the Utility Reporter, Silva had this to say on the role of the union in the life of retirees:
“The union is the only place you can have a say on how to improve the quality of life for PG&E retirees. The retiree clubs are the only voice you have to the negotiating committees. So if you want your voice heard, if you’d like to help solve retirees problems, attend our established meetings or grab a few of the retirees that you know in your area or from PSEA functions and establish your own meeting and local chapter.”
“Mike was always there when the retirees’ voices needed to be heard,” said Rawles.
Larry Darby, a former Local 1245 Advisory Council member and now a Retiree Club member, called Silva “one great person, a heck of a very good friend and a great chairperson for the East Bay Retirees Club.”
Local 1245 salutes our brother, Mike Silva, for his steadfastness in the cause of giving retirees a voice.
Please call the Joachim Parish in Hayward at (510) 783-2766 to confirm, but to the best of our knowledge the following will be the schedule of services for Mike:
Viewing: Monday, Nov. 7, 4 PM
Funeral: Tuesday, Nov. 8, at noon.
The location will be Joachim Parish, 21250 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward, CA.