"Skimpy and Scampi." It's like a buddy movie, but not terrible.
That's the story of AFT paraprofessionals and school-related personnel (PSRP) leaders Wayne Scott of Colorado and George Williams of Florida, whose deep friendship epitomizes what it means to have a "first friend, best friend" in the AFT.
Scott began his career as a steelworker; he was 17 during his first strike. Later he became a school bus driver, and only through steady organizing in the Colorado Classified School Employees Association was he able to mobilize members into an outpost of union strength in a state where unions are constantly under siege. His best friendships formed standing shoulder to shoulder in a fight.
As president of the American Association of Classified School Employees, Scott led the effort to keep students safe from school violence. He organized the first national CCSEA safe schools summit weeks before the Columbine massacre. He's held public office in his community and developed into a national expert on school transportation. He married the school bus monitor who worked aboard his bus.
"I don't think there's anything more important to our families than public schools and trade unions," Scott says.
For these reasons and more, Wayne Scott recently took home the Albert Shanker Pioneer Award at this year's PSRP conference. But it is his bond with George Williams, a past Pioneer Award winner, that made the two what they are: "Skimpy and Scampi," Scott for his stature and Williams for his love of shrimp.
Now both stand on the cusp of retirement.
"He's given me more of himself than any person I've worked with over these years," Williams says. "We have done so much together. He truly is my brother."
"I do thank my brother George," Scott replies. "I'm going to miss him a lot. I might get into a lot of trouble without him."