Sunday, December 4, 2016

Duke Abdalla "The Indian"

My heart is heavy.
Duke Abdalla, the man who carried my father to safety after he had been hit by a phosphorus grenade on a South Pacific beach in 1945, passed away this morning. Duke's love for my father drove him to risk his life to save my dad. Had it not been for that day, I and my 5 siblings would have never been born. Growning up my family knew of this story, but Duke never talked about it due to PTSD. I always found it interesting that he named his oldest son Brady. 
Then in 2005 Duke opened up to another Mariene. Duke then told his story to his Grandson's wife and she wrote it down in a book, Stand Like a Man. This is a clip of part of his story.  At the 1:00 mark he tells about my dad. Recently, through some research my sister-in-law was doing, we found out about the book and the effort to get Duke the recognition he deserves but never received, and our 2 families have connected. 
Duke was the great-grandson of Chief Running Bull of the Yankton Sioux. He was a U S Marine. He was my father's brother. My heart is heavy but I know he and my dad and my uncles are hanging out together in heaven today.
Below is the email from his eldest grandson, Doug.

Cpl. Loren Duke Abdalla "The Indian" 1925 - 2016
Cpl. Loren Duke Abdalla "The Indian" passed away this morning peacefully. I will follow up with  another email with funeral arrangements.
GOD Bless his son and wife, my Uncle Brady and Aunt Verna for the unbelievable care he received all through his elder years. Anything he needed 24/7 they were there and things always looked good, because they were behind the scene taking care of business all the way to the end of his trail.
Thank You to my Beautiful Wife, Donna, for getting all the facts and writing them down and telling his story in the book that was written Extremely Well, Stand Like a Man: The Story of Duke "The Indian" I pray his story will be told for many generations to come.
The last book he signed for me was for The Brady Family, as they heard about Duke's story just last month, while looking up their Dad on the internet, Cpl. John Brady, and they could not wait to help Duke get the proper recognition he deserved and contacted my wife through her website for the book, and quickly wrote a witness letter for the DOD stating how Duke carried their Dad out of heavy fire, and they are all grateful to him for saving his life on May 5, 1945. With this 2nd witness letter, Grandpa Duke now knew his story was now complete and had went full circle, like the  Native American Medicine Wheel. This was his closure, and now he can Rest in Peace. To The Brady Family, Thank You!!!
Everyone did Everything they could to support him, and these last 8 years have been a True Blessing!! He Stood Like a Man and was recognized by many, City of Chicago, Cook and Lake County's, State Capitol of Illinois, and most recently last year he was recognized by The Yankton Sioux Tribe in South Dakota and placed on a buffalo skin rug with a sacred ceremony and Honored with a painted Red Eagle Feather and given the name of his Great-Grandfather Running Bull. He swelled with Pride, and I was a lucky grandson, who he liked to call his driver, and I would parade him around and present his story like I was presenting a Rolls Royce. 15 Governors from Alabama to Wyoming Thanked him as well, and SD Governor Dennis Daugaard even Honored him with "Loren Duke Abdalla Day" on June 18, 2012, his birthday. He was a Member of The Old Breed and the Greatest Generation and he walked with Giants, and he was gonna make sure his story was told and his swan song was more like a Roar of a Lion. I knew Grandpa was always a Family Treasure and Loving to all of us, but when I heard what he did during the Battles of Peleliu and Okinawa during WWII, that is when I knew he was a National Treasure and we needed to get his story out there somehow.
The best part of this is Everyone did come together and he knew Everyone was Thankful for his Service, and he enjoyed this time.
Thank You Everyone for ALL of Your Love and Support for a True Hero!!!
May the Story of Cpl. Loren Duke Abdalla "The Indian" Live Forever and a Day!!!
GOD Bless and Rest in Peace Grandpa Duke.... We Love You!!!
Doug Nykolaycuyk

Eldest Grandson

DeVos and Price

It has been said that President-Elect Trump is not a "detail" guy, but more of a "big picture" guy. 
I get that.
I'm kind of like that myself at times.
I know I don't have to be the expert or the best at doing everything, I just have to surround myself with those types of people and support them.

So let me comment of my concerns about the choices the President-Elect is making in the people he is surrounding himself with.
In particular, let me comment on two of those recent choices, Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education and Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services.
They have something in common.

They both believe in privatization.

Good, you might say.
Private enterprise is what made this country great.
It's the American way.
That's what Capitalism is about.
Our schools and our healthcare system need a shakeup.

There is some truth to this.
Many of our schools are in need of improvement.
Our healthcare system is expensive and out of the reach of some.
We should reform them.

But let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

DeVois is a proponent of charter schools. Charter schools were designed to be incubators of new ideas that could then be brought into all public schools so that all would benefit.  They have evolved into private schools who are funded with taxpayer dollars and can often hand select students who will not require extra help due to learning disabilities. It's like a sports team being given all the best players in the league and then winning the championship.
Big surprise.
Except in this case, they often do not even win the championship. Often, they do not outperform the local public schools, even though the playing field is not level.
Why is that?

Price believes we should privatize healthcare. 
To be sure, there are issues with the ACA, with Medicare, with Medicaid, with the VA healthcare system, with social security, that need addressing.
But let me ask a few questions.
Does anyone believe that our seniors or our disabled should have to decide between food and medical care?  Do we believe that nurses should be told to turn away patients if they lack insurance and the ability to pay?  Do we think that large insurance companies and large healthcare corporations have our interests first, our their own interests first?
We should reform our healthcare system.
We should provide care for all.
We should provide financial security for our seniors.
These are not "entitlements."  We have been paying into these programs our entire working lives.

At the same time, we need to control costs, we need to protect access, we need to put small business owners on a level paying field with big business, and big business in this country on a level playing field with big business oversees.
As is education, there is need for reform.
But again, let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

There is a reason some people want to privatize education and healthcare.
Let's be honest here.

There is money to be made.
If there were not, private companies would not want to own schools, hospitals, insurance companies, and drug companies.

But what's wrong with that?
Isn't that capitalism, isn't that what makes this country great?
Except that those who want to privatize our education  and healthcare system want to do it with my money. 
And your money.

They want your tax money, your social security contributions, your insurance premiums.
We should tell them, keep your hands off my money. 
The Price (and DeVos) is not right.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

PeaceHealthSW caregivers standing together

The caregivers of PeaceHealth SW in Vancouver, Washington have spoken.
In a 3 way vote between AFT /OFNHP, another union, and no union, AFT received 46%.
The other union and the hospital (no union) ended in a virtual tie with 26% each.
After a recount, the NLRB will determine who came in second, and there will be a runoff between AFT/OFNHP and that entity.

If the presidential election has taught us anything, it is that nothing is certain, but it appears that the overwhelming majority of health care workers at PeaceHealth SW will stand together as AFT sisters and brothers and members of OFNHP and WSNA.

In the  pacific Northwest, as is happening across this country, communities are losing local control of their community hospitals.  As hospital systems become larger and larger, they gobble up smaller community hospitals and local control is lost.

This is the very battle we are fighting in New London, in Windham, and at the state capitol, here in Connecticut.

As hospital systems get larger, insurance companies follow suit, in an effort to maintain bargaining power in negotiations over prices.  Add to this the continued growth of large pharmaceutical companies and you can see the effects of a lack of competition driving up healthcare costs.

That leads to excessive profits that are distributed as excessive salary compensation at the top, while the bedside caregiver is squeezed by having to see more and more patients in less and less time, with less and less staff.  

This causes an ethical dilemma for the caregivers, who entered their profession to make a difference, but find themselves having to choose between doing the minimum for each patient or not being able to help some patients at all.

That's why caregivers, form service and maintenance workers to doctors, are organizing.
They realize that if they do not stand up to the large health care systems, the mega insurance companies, and Big Pharma; no one else will be able to.
And they realize that to stand up,
They must stand together.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Guardian Angels of the Labor Movement

have spent,the past 7 days working 16 hour days and coming to know and bond with a wonderful group of people, professional organizers from around the country and worker organizers at PeaceHealth SW in Vancouver, Washington.
The healthcare workers (service and maintenance) are fighting for a voice by joining the AFT RNs and Techs in the AFT Union.

Sometimes in organizing it can feel like your running uphill in sand.
Your work real hard to climb the hill but with every step to take upward, you also slide a little backwards.
You set up meetings and the worker has a child get sick and they have to hurry home.
You have a nice conversation, and then the boss comes along and puts lies and fear into the worker.
Yet you push onward.

Then, when you least expect it you make contact with a worker and they tell you that their entire department has been meeting together and they are all solid in their commitment to join together into the AFT family.

And that's why you do it.

That's why you travel so far, that's why you live in hotel rooms, that's why you work such long days.

These healthcare workers do good work.  They clean hospitals, they prepare food, they assist nurses and techs. 
They deserve respect and they deserve a voice.

Organizers help them find that voice.

If healthcare workers are "angels,"
Then organizers are their "guardian angels."

It was an honor to work side by side with them this week.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

You get what your willing to fight for

What a week!

I'm still in a bit of shock over the outcome of the election. I think many are.
I've listened to the experts and I've heard that the republicans voted in the same numbers as 4 years ago but democrats did not.
I've heard some say for months that they were disappointed that out of the whole country, these were the two best candidates that the parties could come up with.
I buy the reasoning.
I don't buy the excuse.

Once agin, half the eligible voters of this country didn't vote.

Don't blame "the party," don't blame the "establishment."
If you didn't vote.....blame yourself.

I'm working an organizing drive of healthcare workers this week.
It's hard for workers to find the courage to stand up for their rights.
It's hard for them to find the time and energy to do it.
But guess what.
We have a saying in the labor movement.
"You get what you are willing to fight for."

The same is true about politics.

I made a new friend this year. Her name is Angie and she is an AFT teacher in Connecticut.
She has never been involved in politics or the labor movement before now.
Bernie energized her and she became an activist and worked hard for him.
She has a delegate at the national convention for him, I was a delegate for Hillary.
I encouraged her to stay active, to continue that passion.
She joined our state union political action committee. 
I emailed her after the election to see how she was doing and if she intended to remain involved.
She responded, "Don't worry about me. I'm ready to,spring into action....again. Hope you are too."

I needed that.
That's what we all need.
That's what the workers of this hospital need.
We must be willing to take responsibility for the way things are and to work to make them better.
If not, we need to be willing to be ruled by the elite and privileged. 
It's hard work, so role up your sleeves and let's get started.