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Labor
Photo by Senator Mark Warner/ CC BY 2.0

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.

Tom Michels worked 31 years at LTV's iron ore mine in northern Minnesota—and had already started making retirement plans—when the company's bankruptcy wiped out his job and most of his hard-earned pension.

Michels took a series of odd jobs to make ends meet until he became eligible for the Social Security benefits that now enable the 71-year-old to buy food, cover health care costs and even travel a little with his wife, Vicky.

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Photo by outtacontext/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Despite the late nights and long hours that took my father away more than this daddy's girl would have liked, he never stopped being my hero. I knew that when he finished his day job, changed clothes and headed to his extra shifts tending bar or waiting tables for local caterers, he was doing it for a reason. Lots of them, actually —my mom, two sisters, two brothers and me.

For someone as proud as he was, it was a sacrifice because of what he had to put up with from people with a lot more money and a lot less character. They treated him like he was "invisible," or worse, and he put up with it, for us.

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