Sunday, March 1, 2015

Live long and prosper

I could not let the passing of Leonard Nimoy go without saying a few words.
I grew up with Star Trek.
Spock was my favorite character.
Half Vulcan, half Human, logical and emotional, the two sides often pulling at each other, but ultimately, living within him in a restless harmony.
I think at times many of us can see this in ourselves.
He had a philosophy to deal with these internal struggles, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."
How many throughout history have lived and died by this principle, perhaps without ever knowing why, other than that to them it was right.
How many have sacrificed when they knew others needed that sacrifice, placed the needs of the many before their individual needs or wishes.

I was having a discussion with some nurses about our proposals on wages, unveiled just the other night as we start negotiations.
Many questions came up about specific situations, specific people's concerns.
I understand their concerns, but no one proposal is equally fair to each and every member.
The overriding principle must be the needs of the many.

The labor movement must remember this principle.
Members of a local, locals of a union, and unions within the movement, we all must remember this principle.
There is no room for placing one's own interests above the interests of the movement.
The needs of the many must outweigh the needs of the few.
Live long and prosper Spock.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Jan at the U S Senate

My friend Jan Hochadel testified at the U S Senate yesterday encouraging support for career and technical education (CTE).
Jan, who is President of the State Vocational Federation of Teachers, told lawmakers that "These students want to learn a trade and be employable directly out of high school. They see our system as an opportunity to become middle-class tax-paying citizens at the age of 18. We need to view these students as CTE success stories, not anomalies."
Janis Hochadel testifying

In fact, trade school students are held to the same academic standards as non trade school students, even though they split time in trade and academic classes. 
The fact that the Connecticut Technical High School System can accomplish this is a tribute to it's teachers, students, union (SVFT), and superintendent, Dr Nivea Torres.
Jan's leadership is critical in this.
In October I toured one of these schools with Jan, Ellis, and was so impressed in the work being done there.

Jan is that rare leader who combines passion with ability.
I am happy she has decided to run for AFT Connecticut President, and I am honored to run as her 1st Vice President, along side Jean Morningstar and Ed Leavy.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

ICYMI: The Dilemma of the Teacher

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Dilemma of the Teacher

My last blog concerned the internal conflict that pulls at the very soul of the Healthcare worker. (The Dilemma of the Healthcare Worker)
Torn between the internal needs to both care for others and do it in a loving, professional, and thorough manner; and the demands of an industry that seems to be shifting from a philosophy that it is in the business of healthcare into one that is a business that just so happens to be in healthcare.
Many people identified with my thoughts, and not surprisingly, one of the largest group was teachers.
A Nurse is an RN, LPN, etc, but a nurse, with a small n, is anyone in any of the caring professions, healthcare, education, public service, etc., people who have a calling, not a job.
Teachers definitely fit this description.  Teaching the youth of today has to be something that only someone with a calling can do. Like healthcare, they increasingly have to do more with less, and sometimes, they have to do "what they can" not what their hearts tell them they want to do.  This tears a person's soul. Yet, to walk away is almost unthinkable.
I also have a friend who works in the state court system, as a social worker in the public defender's office.  Her calling is to try to help piece together lives of young people who have gone down a dark road, usually with the help of a substance abuse issue. 
Day after day she does this, often in failing attempt, but when successful, she literally saves lives.
My Union, AFT, calls itself a "Union of Professionals".  We include education, healthcare, and public service. My social worker friend is AFT, many teacher friends are AFT.
We ARE a union of professionals, but we are also a union of care givers, who provide that care in many settings, hospitals, schools, homes, court houses, and wherever we can make a difference.
AFT does not stand alone in this, we stand with many sister unions and non union brothers and sisters in the "caring professions," who do not have jobs but have callings, and increasingly we are asked to do more with less, and it tears at our souls.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Every member matters

This week reflected the diversity of AFT-CT, in meetings I attended.
On Monday and Friday, I met with the leadership of 3 of our smaller locals, Manchester Skilled Service and Maintenance, LPN/Tech, and Rockville RNs.
The Thursday meeting of PLANs: Partnership for Leaders & Activists for New Solutions brought together the leaders of many of our federations largest locals.
Then Saturday, AFT-CT members from every corner of the state and from all our divisions, met in Hartford for our Legislative Conference.

A couple of observations.

As diverse as we are, we are also alike in so many ways.
Education, Healthcare, Public Employees, we all "serve", be it students, patients or the public.  At the end of the day, it is not only about a paycheck.
We make a difference in people's lives.

That's why a teacher can understand a nurse can understand a social worker, etc, etc, etc.
I have seen over and over, a hospital housekeeper stop and help a patient or visitor.
We all know of  a story of a custodian who believed in students when they did not believe in themselves.
These people could have chosen another line of work, or at least, another place of work, but they know they make a difference, and it matters to them.
It should.

I'm proud to be a member of AFT.
I'm thrilled at the opportunities I have to meet so many dedicated people.
I hope to continue to fight for them for some time to come because whatever division we are in, whatever the size of our local, the individual member matters.
They make a difference.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Building a Union we can be proud of

Today I'd like to announce the launch of a new web site,
and group of leaders who are dedicated to the belief that the power of a union is in our collective voice. We are committed to ensuring that everyone's voice is heard and respected.

Our Guiding Principles and Goals:

I.     Membership First – The belief that the strength of AFT is in its members. AFT-CT’s leadership has an obligation to continually speak not only to the presidents of locals, but to their executive boards, and most importantly to the memberships.

II.   Communication & Collaboration – The belief that once the desires of the membership are understood, together we achieve more. This is only possible in a climate of respect.

III.  Transparency – The belief AFT-CT leadership has an obligation to make membership aware of the work being done. To be true to the movement, policies and practices must align.

IV. Organization – The belief that AFT-CT needs to identify the work that needs to be done should be outlined and prioritized in short-term and long-term plans.

We have assembled a slate of Officers and Executive Board Vice Presidents who believe in these principles and goals.
I am honored to be a part of this team.