One BMC striker's inspiration: her mom

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PITTSFIELD — When Rahima Hohlstein needs to buck up her resolve while on strike, she just has to think of her mother, Marian.

When a child growing up in New York City, Hohlstein used to watch her mother, Marian Steiner-Caffin, join other teachers on the picket line.

"My mother could do this for better conditions for teachers and students," Hohlstein said from another such line Tuesday — the Massachusetts Nurses Association action against Berkshire Medical Center. "I can do this."

As Tuesday's one-day strike neared, Hohlstein said she kept her mother in the loop.

"She wants it to go well, and wants us to get what we're fighting for," she said.

Her mother is pleased to hear that a daughter is "carrying on the union tradition." So is a brother, who belongs to a New York City transit union.

The Eagle reached Hohlstein's mother by phone Tuesday, as she drove to an appointment. Naturally, it's a medical appointment, she said with a laugh.

Asked to share a memory of one of her own strikes, Steiner-Caffin, who declined to give her age, said she recalled animosity between strikers and the occasional teachers who did not join walkouts.

She said she understood that some simply couldn't afford to give up paychecks.

Has she had advice for her daughter? Steiner-Caffin said it comes down to keeping ranks.

"Solidarity is something that is really necessary to get your point across," she said. "You have to be prepared to stick to your guns and do what's right in your heart."

Reach staff writer Larry Parnass at 413-496-6214 or @larryparnass.


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