By MIKE LEE
With time, history comes into focus. This is the case in the passing of former Public Employee Press Editor William “Bill” Schleicher who died at home in The Bronx on Aug. 20 at 80 years old.
Schleicher never shirked from a battle, particularly for equal rights and economic justice, beginning with his experience as a civil rights activist organizing voter registration campaigns in Tennessee with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Schleicher moved to New York City, entering civil service as a caseworker in the Welfare Department where he was later promoted to supervisor.
As a member of Local 371 prior to its joining with SSEU, he participated in the January 1965 Welfare Workers strike, a watershed event in District Council 37 and New York City’s labor history, and in the 1967 strike.
In 1969, he joined the staff of DC 37’s newspaper, Public Employee Press, as a reporter. In his 45-year career as a union communicator, Schleicher built a reputation as a risk-taking, hard-nosed reporter and photographer.
Whether riding in a helicopter to photograph overhead views of a significant labor rally in the 1970s in Washington, D.C., or sneaking into The New York Times newsroom to photograph lounging employees after the newspaper published a scathing editorial accusing City public workers of laziness, Schleicher expanded the possibilities of what a union newspaper could cover.
Through the chaos and cruelty of the 1970’s New York City fiscal crisis, Schleicher reported on the deteriorating conditions of the City’s infrastructure while promoting DC 37’s social services and member benefits.
In 1999, Schleicher became editor of Public Employee Press and began to make his own mark on the newspaper’s editorial direction. As the years passed, he transformed the union newsroom with a new team of writers and artists who enhanced coverage of union-wide, local, and national issues.
After a half century of service as a public worker, including 45 years as a DC 37 staffer, Bill Schleicher retired in 2015.
Schleicher is survived by his wife, Ellen Chapnick; sons Erico and David Schleicher; daughters-in-law Kim Kelsey and Amanda Kosonen; and grandchildren, Miri, Charlie, and Nate.