Doug Finger, Local 1029: Learning from the Past To Protect Our Future

History matters to Doug Finger, a crew leader with the Enfield Department of Public Works and immediate past president of Local 1029 of Council 4. He’s got the binders to prove it.

Recently, after finishing his shift at work, Finger pulled out two big spiral notebooks filled with 50 years of state and local union labor history. George Lally, the longtime Local 1029 president who preceded and mentored Finger, started the archives and handed them down to Finger, who in turn wants to impart the importance of the union to younger members.

“The union means a lot,” Finger reflected. “It means I raised a family with a roof over our heads. It means we had health insurance. This union helped me through hard times. It’s about brotherhood and sisterhood.”

The Local 1029 archives contain everything from local newspaper articles and union documents to old Council 4 newsletters and member photos.

History remains consequential to Finger. He wants to share his knowledge and pass it along to younger members. He is mentoring them on the responsibilities of being union officers and stewards.

“It’s like a family tradition that you pass on to your children. I want to share the knowledge I have with our members. I want to give them a sense of history,” he said. “The union is not just a paycheck. We’re so much more. AFSCME is so much more.”

Finger has worked at the DPW for 35 years and served as bargaining unit president from 1999 until earlier this year, when he stepped down from his union leadership position to focus his energies on running for the Enfield Town Council.

Finger’s decision to seek election – made possible by a charter change allowing town employees to hold seats on local boards and commissions – proved timely. He and his Democratic slate swept to victory in the Nov. 2 election. (Nick Hopkins, a state public defender and member of Local 381 of Council 4, also won a seat on the Town Council, giving it a solid union presence.)

“It was  right for me to do this,” Finger said about running for office. “I want to make sure working families and unions are represented. I want to make sure people are treated fairly and that the taxpayers are also heard.” 

Finger enjoys being a rank-and-file member. He remains committed to teaching and mentoring his fellow workers. Serving in public office is another way for him to remind people to be politically active and engaged.

“It’s important to protect our rights and keep our democracy healthy,” he observed. “If we don’t vote and we don’t participate [in the legislative process], we will lose our health benefits, our pensions and our right to arbitration.”