Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 reflections

When we started out 2013 we were still trying to absorb the horror of Sandy Hook.  Little did we know what was coming at the Boston Marathon.
There were highs and lows, struggles and celebrations.
The Red Sox won the World Series, a new Pope was elected, Nelson Mandella passed, as did Paul Mallon, a friend to me and many at the hospital, and my father in law, Paul Bessenaire.
We stood in solidarity with L+M Locals 5049, 5051 and 5123, as they stood up to corporate greed.  We rallied with them, walked with them, and celebrated with them as the corporation that runs their hospital backed down.
We met with Governor Malloy in our office over cheese and crackers, we toured Backus with Senator Murphy, we grew closer to AFT president Randi Weingarten, who was especially proud of our solidarity with our L+M brothers and sisters.
We celebrated with Connecticut AFL-CIO President John Olsen and our own Carol Adams as they retired, and we welcomed good friend Lori Pelletier as the new CT AFL-CIO chief and Carol Adams as she now concentrates extra time as the Backus Nurses Political Liaison.
We lobbied our legislators in Washington on the L+M situation, and our legislators in Hartford on mandatory Flu vaccinations and safe staffing, with several members writing and giving testimony, and others attending legislative breakfasts, the swearing in of our new mayor, Deb Hinchey (whom we supported) and the governor's press conference for the new minimum wage.
We held another very successful United Way Food Drive with our brothers and sisters of the Security and Support Staff Union, were active participants on the Southeastern Connecticut Central Labor Council, took part in the AFT Healthcare Presidents Conference, the AFT Healthcare Professional Issues Conference, sent many delegates to the AFT Connecticut Leaders Training Day.
We attended the orientation and welcome of the 35,000 member strong National Federation of Nurses into the AFT family, and sat on the AFT Small Unions Task Force, the Dept of Public Health advisory board, and AFT CT Convention Credentials Committee, and the AFT CT Officer Compensation Advisory Board.
We attended the AFT Connecticut Convention and the Connecticut AFL-CIO Convention.
We fought for just compensation after the mandatory holding over of employees in the snowstorm and we renegotiated the vacation policy, which while complicated, is workable.
We filed and argued countless grievances, showing the hospital that we would stand up for what was right and fair.
As the year comes to a close, we are fighting for those employees denied insurance, both union and non union, because it is the right thing to do.
At the same time, we offer an olive branch to management to form a cooperative win-win relationship, based on trust and respect, what we call Solution Driven Unionism.
We worked with the 3 L+M locals and took the buying power of our 2,000 members to negotiate preferred pricing at Bob Velenti Automall in Mystic.
We opened a new office at 24 Sachen St, closer to the hospital with a decrease in rent.
We celebrated with our our Nightengale Nurses, Lisa Hageman, Lori Huckle, Rich Olsen, Pat Smith, and Chris Stanton.

Yup, we did a lot.

On a personal note, I served on committees for the Dept of Public Health, AFT Connecticut, and AFT.
I met Ted Kennedy Jr, established a relationship with national president Randi Weingarten, strengthened relationships with local, state, and federal legislators, labor leaders, and non profit and community leaders.
I fought many battles, won some, lost some.
I spoke whenever they put a microphone in front of me, posed when they held up a camera.
I wrote 116 blogs, and was recognized by a kid behind a Burger King counter as "that nurse with the blog."
I traveled with a family group of 8 to Disney World, as well as five trips for the union, 3 to Washington, 1 to Baltimore, 1 to Chicago.

Yep, we did a lot.

As the year closes, I am proud of how our young Local has grown, how we testify in Hartford, how we are a player on the state and national Labor and political scene, how we stand with our L+M brothers and sisters, how we work with the United Way, how we stand up for each other at the workplace, and how our delegates devote time to train to become even better delegates.

I am proud of how we care for our patients, day in and day out, because it is the right thing and to what we have dedicated our lives.
No one can know what 2014 will bring, but what ever it is, we will face it together, 
Happy New Year

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Why we do what we do

I have been posting a lot on worker's rights and struggles recently.
I know that.
This blog is supposed tone about my views and my life.
What can I say?
This HAS been my life.

But why do we do what we do?
That's a question we should ask ourselves.

We do it for our patients, our students, and the public we serve.
But we also do it for ourselves and our families, so that this will be a little better world to live in, a little fairer, a little kinder.

Its a never ending job, with a goal, but no finish line.

And so,
It's important to take time to step back, look at the journey, and just enjoy life along the way.

My son got us a gift, and this weekend we're enjoying it.
We're staying overnight at a very nice hotel in Hartford and then going to the Science Center to see "Bodies Reveled"

Most important, we're taking just a little time to stop and enjoy life, and each other.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas

To be honest, the last four weeks have been exhausting.

Work was busier than usual, what with nearby L+M Hospital's illegal Lock Out of the nurses and techs, I've spent extra time working in a support role to see those nurses and techs get the respect they deserve, and that's taken time.

The nurses and techs became more united with each passing day and now are back at work, a great Christmas present for everyone.

My members stepped up and grew as unionists by walking the line and donating support money.  I'm proud of them and thankful.  Another Christmas present.

My wife, Michelle, and family supported the extra time I spent in New London and I think saw the reason for my passion in the faces of the nurses, techs, significant others, and children.
Still, I know the time is a sacrifice I can never repay Michelle, yet she puts up with me and supports me just the same.
Another Christmas present.

Christmas always seems to come too quick, I never seem ready, this year maybe less ready than usual.

But as I sit here and reflect on the love I have seen this past month, the "goodwill toward men", directed to the nurses, techs and families, as I reflect on the feeling that we make a difference, as I think of how lucky I am to have found Michelle all those years ago,

Maybe I am ready for Christmas.

May God bless you all.  May you have the best Christmas ever.  May Santa be good to you.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Thursday morning, at 6:45 am, L+M Corporation unilaterally ended it's illegal Lockout of 800 nurses and techs.

The community had won.

The corporation had lost.

There is still a contract to negotiate, but the hospital can reopen, patients can be treated, and caregivers can do the one and only thing they have wanted to do since the beginning,
treat THEIR patients, whether those patients are at the hospital or shipped to some outside location.

In the 3 weeks of the illegal Lockout the community and the care giver's bond grew stronger and stronger.
There were cookouts on the sidewalk by the building trades, pasta dinners at the Elks, turkeys donated by the Teamsters, discounts at local pharmacies, restaurants and stores, over $65,000 donated to a hardship fund to help put food on the tables and pay for health care when the corporation discontinued the care giver's insurance, and much more.

The solidarity between the workers, politicians, and community grew stronger each time the corporation spouted another lie.
To be sure, there were moments of anguish and fear but instead of dividing, it united, because like any close family, the community stood by the old Labor saying:

Injury to one is injury to all!

Perhaps nothing better shows this solidarity and what motivated this group of dedicated caregivers and their community to stand up to corporate greed, than this video of Santa visiting the children, filmed just hours before L+M corporation gave in.

This is a victory for ALL people of southeastern Connecticut and beyond.
Corporate greed is ruining this country, the people have had it, and we want our country back.
The greed that started on Wall Street has spread everywhere, even to the boardrooms of our not for profit community hospitals and the only thing that can kill this cancer of greed is for the people to stand up against it.

Over the past 3 weeks the community stood up, stood together, and pushed back.
Congratulations to all.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Good news for my L+M brothers and sisters today.

First, Nurses and Techs illegally Locked Out of their own hospital, prohibited from caring for their patients, found out that they will receive unemployment retroactive to December 1.
Our hope is that the sought after injunction will come soon and open L+M's doors again.

Second, Santa arrived today, accompanied by City of New London Fire Trucks and maned by Firefighters Local 1522, delivering toys to the children of the Nurses and Techs, donated by many generous people and with the help of the ULA (United Labor Agency), which is the community service division of the AFL-CIO.

And last, L+M CFO Lou Inzana resigned.

There is much speculation over this resignation, in the middle of an illegal Lock Out.
Some point to the Westerly Hospital purchase.
Some point to news articles of the Caymon Island Hedge Fund.
Some question the cost of continuing this illegal Lock Out.
And some wonder if he could no longer support the leadership of the CEO, Bruce Cummings.

We have no way of knowing the reasons.

What we do know, is that the administration of Cummings is unraveling.
Political support has long ago left him, as has community support.
Costly, questionable business decisions have turned a profitable hospital into a hospital in trouble in one year.
Most important of all, there is no confidence in Cummings ability to lead this hospital going forward.

AFT is a strong, respected union of professionals, supported by all of organized labor, political friends, and the community, and led in this struggle by the nurses, techs, and healthcare workers of Locals 5049, 5051, and 5123.

There is leadership at L+M, and it's found in AFT.

The money's gone to the Caymons, the CFO to Maine, maybe it's time for for Cummings to go too.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Long nights

Right now, the RN/LPN Tech negotiation team is working.  They have been since 1:00 yesterday afternoon,
19 hours ago!
They are fighting for a contract that gives security to the members and families, but also to the patients and community.  They are fighting for respect and the right to return to work.

The community and organized Labor has been unbelievable in it's support.
But we should take a moment to look at ourselves.

As our dedicated negotiations team worked through the night, supported by members present, other members manned the picket line in the cold and snow.
Our AFT Connecticut staff has been at the table and in the cold with us the entire way, our filed reps, organizers, office staff and others. The best Union staff ever!
The other AFT Locals have contributed financially, with boots on the ground, and with encouraging support.
We have been led by the amazing presidents and executive boards of Locals 5059, 5051, 5123, AFT Connecticut, and AFT Washington.

We need to understand that the AFT is a respected leader in the movement for equality and fairness and that we are playing a large role in that struggle.

The corporation that runs L+M Hospital needs to understand two things.
We seek what is in the best interest of L+M Hospital, because we are L+M.
We are united in our resolve to see this through.

My sincere hope is that an agreement can be reached soon that offers respect to the dedicated care givers of L+M Hospital and allows them to return to providing excellent care to their patients.
My sincere thanks to the negotiations team, staff, and members of 5059, 5051 and 5123, who are doing the heavy lift and showing us what solidarity looks like in practice.
The rest of AFT will continue to stand with you.....
One day longer than is needed.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A New London Christmas Story

This is the time of year when Holiday TV programs dominate the airways.
We have our own Holiday stories in New London as reported by Judy Benson in The Day .

L+M Corporation Locked Out the nurses and techs, threatening to arrest them if they set foot on the property of their community hospital.

The Locked out nurses and techs of L+M Hospital are in need of many things.
Having lost their insurance, some have family members getting chemo, dialysis or other expensive treatments, so they need help to pay for COBRA.
Having lost their paychecks, some are in need of mortgage and rent assistance.
With the cold temperatures, heating is an issue.
And there will be less presents this Christmas, but every child deserves something.

The community has stepped forward.
The hardship fund collected $20,000 in the first 24 hours and continues to collect, the United Way is helping in many, many ways, the Teamsters have donated turkeys, the ULA has committed toys, the Building Trades and the Elks have provided meals, cars stop at the picket line and drop off food and hot coffee, and there is so much more.
On Tuesday, Santa will arrive at the picket line, in a fire truck provided by the New London Fire Department.

At the same time, these same nurses and techs are helping others!
This is one such example.

For the last four years, the staff of the neurology unit (union and nonunion, managers and staff) have adopted a needy family in the area each Christmas.  With half the employees forbidden entry into the hospital, unable to use their hospital email, and facing financial hardship themselves, the program was is jeopardy this year. At first, the Locked Out workers thought about trying to complete the project themselves, but they felt that didn't keep to the spirit of what they were doing. Through Facebook, they were able to connect to the people inside, and yesterday, they delivered the gifts to the Elks, who will distribute them to the family.

Because, just like the people who have reached out to help them, these care givers are bound by ethical principles that we are one family, responsible for each other.

The caregivers of L+M Hospital (union and nonunion) understand this Spirit of Christmas, they live it every day, throughout the year.
The community of New London and the people who have sent help from all over the country understand, they have proven it.
If the administration of L+M Corporation understood this, we wouldn't have the situation we are in.

Friday, December 13, 2013

One day longer

Good news out of New London today.
Negotiations scheduled for next Monday will take place tomorrow instead.

These will be the first negotiations in 11 days.

I sincerly hope that L+M Corporation comes ready to offer real proposals.

I hope they have finally come to realize that the coalition between the nurses, techs, and community is real, lasting, and cannot be broken.
In the last 3 weeks New London has shown a solidarity seldom seen, a solidarity based on a concept that this hospital belongs to them, not L+M Corporation.
What began as a campaign slogan has been taken into their hearts.


The outpouring of support, in the form of community on the picket line, the donations of coffee, donuts, food, turkeys, toys, cooked meals, cash, and love is the outward sign of that solidarity.

It is not too late for the leadership of L+M Corporation to put the needs of the community first.

But make no mistake.

Should this be another false start,
Should L+M Corporation offer their same unacceptable proposals.
Should they continue their disrespect of the nurses, techs, and community,
then I have no doubt in my mind that this coalition will stand strong, in solidarity, knowing that Right is on their side.

How long will this coalition stand together?

One day longer than needed.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bruce must go

Just when I thought the CEO of L+M Corporation couldn't disrespect the dedicated nurses and techs any more......

In an incredible insult, he has asked the workers to vote yes on his "last, best offer" by Monday and he'll give them a $1000 bonus.
It's an insult because to the nurses and techs this isn't about money, it's about being able to continue to care for their patients.
To think that these dedicated, ethically driven health care workers could be bribed is the height of insult.
But, then again, this is common in the world the CEO lives in.  In his world it's common to sell one's soul to the highest bidder.

Let's set the record straight.
The CEO has illegally moved work out of the hospital to a shell corporation and denied the experienced health care workers the opportunity to follow their patients.  Furthermore, he has illegally Locked them out of their own hospital, in the cold, away from their patients, and stopped their paychecks and insurance, all just before the holidays.
All to move a few more dollars into his pocket because, apparently, $15,000/week isn't enough for him.

His offer of a bonus is a desperate attempt to divide the dedicated health care workers, who you can imagine, are under an incredible amount of stress.

It is time for the board of directors to stand up and do the right thing.  Bruce Cummings is not L+M Hospital.
The health care workers, the community, the governor, senators, representatives, and mayor who are out on the picket line, are L+M Hospital.

Bruce must go.
Don't let the door hit you in the @#* on the way out.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Our Heros

As we enter day 15 of an illegal lockout of L+M nurse and techs by their own management, something interesting is happening.
You've heard the phrase "angels" used in the past for health care workers.

The truth is, these people are angels.
They have made a decesion to devote their lives to the care of others.
The community has always looked upon them in this light.

The lockout continues and the hospital displays it antics and spreads it's lies, day after day after day. 
The nurses and techs continue to stand outside, waiting to return to their hospital, their patients. 
The temperatures drop lower every night, the rain and snow falls.
These "angles" are beginning to be seen in a new light, as
Folk Heros.

At first it was the more "manly" members of organised labor, the painters, carpenters, and other building trades, the Teamsters, the Medal trade workers of EB, and such.
They looked upon these "angels", LOCKED out in the cold, fighting for their patients against cooperated and personal greed, and they said,
"Not on my watch"

They carry signs, they march, they cook wonderful lunches, they buy toys and turkeys, they donate cash, all to show their concern for these "angles", these folk heros.

Then the community came, horns honking in support, dropping off coffee, donuts, food, toys for the children, and cash.  The march and carry signs too.
They open up the Elks club to provide a meal for all and their families, feed their stomachs, but more, saying thank you.
Thank you for standing up against what is wrong, thank you for standing up for me.

I expected the working class community to join in, and they have in droves, but perhaps more moving to me is the doctors on their way home from the office and hospital and business people in suits.
They too need "heros", people standing up because it is the right thing to do.

The nurses and techs never sought this, they simply want to care for their patients.
But heros never seek to be heros.
They a regular people who see harm done to someone or something they care deeply about and they cannot ignor it any more.

They somehow muster up the courage, put aside personnal security, and take a stand.

I want to close with one example of how these heros are inspiring others.
We have at my hospital (Backus) about 23 people who missed the signup deadline and may have to go without health insurance for an entire year. 
We are working on a solution, but the outcome is uncertain.

Yesterday one of the effected nurses sent me this email, in the mist of her troubles, she was thinking of others. 

Hi John, can you sent me the site where donation can be made for those who where locked out?. thanks 

Heros inspire us.
If, like my nurse,  you'd like to help, you can donate at

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Cold, but not lonely, being Locked Out

It was 24 degrees when I awoke this morning to get ready for work.
Down in New London, my friends are standing out in this cold, a hundred yards from their hospital.
One week ago their CEO locked them out.
What kind of man does that?

These dedicated nurses and techs stages a 4 day legal strike, to protest the fact that this man has engaged in a practice of firing their coworkers, moving their work to other buildings, and replacing the workers with new workers at below living wages and benefits, all while buying Westerly Hospital and pulling in $800,000/year in salary.
That's over $15,000 a week!
What kind of man?

The nurses and techs are ready to return to work, in fact, they tried and were threatened with arrest for trespass.
The are ready to meet 24/7 to continue to come to a resolution, and willing and wanting, to work while they do this, but he has agreed to just one session in the past week (after pressure from U S Senators, congressman, the Mayor, and every other area politician) and then he offered nothing new.
What kind of man?

The kind of man who does not believe that workers should have a voice, the ability to speak and advocate for themselves, their patients, and their community.

He wants to break them.

So, he locks them out in the cold, away from their work, their vocation, their patients.

He stands on one side.
The nurses and techs on the other side.
A classic showdown.
A line in the sand.

On the side of the nurses and techs, (you know, the 24 degree side), stands both U S senators and our Congressman, the Mayor, every area state senator and representative, the governor, secretary of state, comptroller, state attorney general, labor commissioner and every other state leader,  social and religious leaders, millions of members of organized labor across this country,  and most important, the people of the area.

On the other side stands the hospital CEO.

It's 24 degrees on the outside, but it's not cold and it's not lonely.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Open letter to L+M board of directers

L+M Board of Directors,

I would imagine the L+M CEO is keeping you updated on developments with the lockout.
I imagine you're wondering how 800 seemingly dedicated employees could force such a thing, and hoping they will come to their senses soon so this thing can end.
I imagine you're wondering how Governor Malloy, Senators Blumethal and Murphy, Congressman Courtney, Mayor Finizio, all the state senators and representatives and prominent members of the New London community could side with the workers.
Your probably thinking it's just a political stand they are taking.

However, you know some of these people.
Either you work along side them, or go to church with them, or serve on committees with them.
Could they all be wrong?
Could they all be politically motivated?
Could they all be fooled by "the union?"

The nurses and techs are ready to go back to work.
They tried to do that last Saturday.
They were told they would be arrested if they set foot on their community hospital property.

You have the power to end this lockout.
You can instruct the hospital CEO to bring the nurses and techs back while negotiations continue.

I urge you to keep an open mind, to talk with the people you know who are locked out or support those who are locked out.

Thank you for your service to the community and consideration of my thoughts,

John Brady RN
Backus Hospital Emergency Nurse
Backus Federation of Nurses
AFT Local 5149

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nelson would be proud

I learned of Nelson Mandela's passing while I walked the picket line today.

How fitting.

Truly one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen, he spent years in prison because he would not stop speaking out for justice, and eventually, he would serve as presidnet of the same country that imprisoned him.

Was he ever scared? I'm sure he was.
Did he ever doubt he would be successful in the end? I would imagine he did.

But his integrity would not let him retreat from his beliefs or his mission, and the support of those who believed as he did sustained him.

A picket line is certainly not a prison, but it can be a place of doubt, anxiety and fear.

Today, our brothers from the Building Trades showed us that they are part of our support.
They showed up, set up, cooked up, and served up.
Lunch, that is.

In doing so, they fed not only our stomachs, they fed our souls.
Thanks brothers, you're the best!
Nelson would be proud.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Tonight, the Executive Board of the Backus Hospital Nurses visited the picket line outside L+M hospital.  It was not our first visit, nor will it be our last, but it was our first official visit as a group.

We presented the following to the brave workers at the line.


Whereas the corporation that runs L+M Hospital has engaged in an Unfair Labor Practice

And whereas that same corporation has locked out its own workers

And whereas the governor, both US senators and our congressman, all area state senators and representatives, the mayor of New London, all of organized labor, and the southeastern  Connecticut community stands with the L+M workers

And whereas we share a common responsibility to provide care for that community

Therefore be it resolved that the Backus Federation of Nurses,
AFT Connecticut Local 5149 , AFL-CIO
pledges its total and complete support for its  L+M
brothers and sisters

Adopted by the Backus Federation of Nurses Executive Board

this fourth day of December, 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013

True Leaders

I was looking for a way to express my feelings towards the 3 AFT presidents at L+M hospital, Harry Rodriguez, Stephanie Johnson and Lisa D'Abrosca, when I came across this FB post:
This by itself would make a great blog, don't you think?

Andrew Rodriguez Very proud to call you my father right now. Its always refreshing when you get to meet people who are passionate about their beliefs and are willing to stand up and fight for their rights. God Bless Local 5123 and God Bless Locals 5049 & 5051!!!

In a nutshell, it's how I feel about the 3 true leaders of L+M
I had the privilege to be with them last winter when they visited Senators Murphy and Blumenthal and Congressman Courtney in Washington to tell them how the hospital CEO was firing workers when he moved work, instead of letting the workers follow the work.
I was there when they spoke before the Connecticut AFL-CIO convention and emphatically reached out for help.
I watched Harry give a presentation to AFT presidents about how this shell game could spread to other hospitals.
I was there when they presented their case to the Southeastern CT Labor Council, a council on which Lisa is Vice President.
I've watched as Stephanie has raised one finger, in front of state federation staff and officers and said, "Excuse me, I have the floor!"

I have also seen them in quiet times, when the concern for each and every individual member shown on their faces.

And I am sure I have only seen the tip of the iceberg.

They carry the weight of the welfare of 1600 L+M workers and their families.
When they say "brother and sister", they not only mean it, they feel it.
Their decisions and leadership ability will effect not only the outcome of the L+M Lockout, but the direction of AFT Connecticut Healthcare, and the Connecticut Labor Movement, and beyond.

Yet to watch them at a rally, you'd think this is just a "fun in the spotlight" moment for them.

It is not.

They understand the importance of the role they play.
They do so not out of any sense of personal gain.
They do it because they find themselves in this position, at this time, and inside them is something that screams....

"These are MY people, and you will respect them!"

They have become my good friends,
they are for sure, my mentors,
they are most definitely, my heroes.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

LOCKED OUT! (An open letter to my members)

5149 members,
Last night the nurses and technologists of L+M Hospital attempted to report for work at 11pm as scheduled and planned and were denied access.
They were LOCKED OUT.

Many of the L+M faces I see when down there are faces that I know from Backus, because many of them also work with us, or have worked with us, just as many of us have worked or still work at L+M.
They truly are our brothers and sisters. and their battle truly is ours.  
Don't for a minute think that Backus will not try to get away with anything that L+M gets away with.

I am so very proud of the many Backus nurses who I have seen on the line.  Many others, I have missed because of the size of the crowds but I have been told by others of your presence.
I am so proud of you.
We have had a presence each and every day, and that must continue until this is resolved. The picket line will continue 24/7.
In fact, I have moved our Executive Board meeting scheduled for this Wednesday evening to the sidewalk outside L+M, I invite you to join us, assuming this lockout is not resolved.

The issue is simple.
L+M is moving work out of the hospital, and plans to move more, to outside buildings, much as Backus did with the main hospital blood drawing station. 
However, instead of moving the employees with the work as Backus did, L+M fired those workers, replaced them with workers making less and having poorer benefits, and then said, these new workers have no rights under the contract. 
They have said they will continue this practice.

The U S government (NLRB) v L+M Hospital trial on this issue is scheduled for December 12.
L+M has said it it will appeal when they lose, tying it up for years.
One of the many proposals we have offered is that both sides accept the decision without appeal and that we move foreward.  They declined this and many other reasonable solutions.
The Hospital's motive seems to be to break up the union.

800 L+M brothers and sisters are standing strong and united.  So far, 6 out of 800 have crossed the picket line, and now, even they, are locked out.
Because they are no longer on strike, but Locked Out, they are all now eligible for unemployment.

Our national president has pledged "whatever it takes", our Governor, US Senators and Representatives, state senators and representatives, New London Mayor, and leaders and members of all of Connecticut and many of Rhode Island's unions have been to New London in support and are applying pressure on the hospital.

Please continue what you have been doing, walk the line,sign the petition, talk to your neighbors, and stand strong with our remarkable brothers and sisters. http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/stand-with-lm-nurses

In service and solidarity,

Backus Federation of Nurses
AFT Local 5149
John Brady RN, President, 
Melissa Hunter RN, Vice President

Friday, November 29, 2013

Strike Update

The last few days have been a whirlwind.
Our sister locals at L+M hospital went out on a 4 day unfair labor practice strike on Wednesday.
Then the hospital threatened to lock them out.
Wednesday meant picketing in the wind and rain.
Thursday (Thanksgiving) meant turkey, stuffing, pies, etc donated and dropped off at the picket line from people and restaurants of the New London area. I had my turkey meal in the RV with Lisa D'Arosca, president of the L+M RNs.
Lisa, and Stephanie Johnson, president of the LPN/Techs, have been living at the picket line.  Stephanie went horse for a while from using the bullhorn.
Harry Rodriguez, president of the Healthcare Local, is barred from the picket line, because his local is in the middle of a contract, so Harry has been holding down the fort at the office.
Our professional staff from AFT Connecticut and AFT national have been unbelievable.  We always rely on them for their expertise, and this week they have been putting in long, long hours.
Brother Ole actually fell asleep while standing up at the picket line in the middle of the night, in the cold.  He awoke when he started to fall to the ground.
I've always considered healthcare work more as a vocation than a profession. Our professional organizers, field reps, and others approach their work in the same way.
Our elected leaders in Rocky Hill and Washington have been wonderful.
Melodie, Steve, and Jean have been on the line, and today we were joined by national president, Randi Weingarten.
I have been in email contact with Randi, AFT VP Francine Lawrence, AFT Healthcare Director Mary MacDonald, and NFN president Steve Rooney, all expressing support and pledging to involve others across the country.
I was asked to speak at the rally today.
Our political leaders are with us. Senator Blumenthal, Governor Malloy, Mayor Finizio, and too many state senators and representatives to mention have walked the line, Senator Blumenthal twice.  Senator Murphy was unable to come, so he sent his top aide. Perhaps as important, are the phone calls they have made and the pressure they have exerted to force L+M back to the table.
Our brothers and sisters from so, so many other unions have joined us, as well as the entire community.
I'm proud that my people, from Backus, where among them.
All this support has forced the hospital back to the table tonight, hopefully in a more reasonable mood, and hopefully, they will reconsider their threat to lock out the nurses and techs when they return to work tomorrow night.
a whirlwind.
Where will it end?
Hopefully with a contract that gives reasonable job protection to the nurses and techs, that's all they want, to be able to return to work and, if that work is moved to an outside building, to follow that work.
No matter what happens, the community and the workers are standing together, in solidarity.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


On Wednesday, at 6 am, the nurses and technicians of our sister locals at L+M hospital  in New London will take a courageous stand and go on strike.

It will be the first strike at a Connecticut hospital in 33 years.

The issue at hand is the hospital's refusal to stop the practice of laying off workers, moving the work to outside buildings and rehiring others to do the work, and then, denying these new workers the right to join the union.

The Federal Government is currently prosecuting the hospital for just this practice.
The problem is, the hospital has already said it will appeal any decision and tie it up in the courts for years.

The RN and the LPN/Tech Locals are advocating for contract language to protect L+M workers from their own management.

It's sad that health care in this country has come to this.  Some in the decision making roles are willing to put personal profit ahead of patient welfare.

Our brothers and sisters have been left will little choice.

The Governor, our senators and representatives, the labor community, the religious community and the greater southeastern Connecticut community are all standing with the workers.

I urge you to find your way to the hospital sometime in the next few days to show your support.
If you are not within travelling distance, I urge you to call Bruce Cummings, the CEO, at (860) 442-0711, and leave a message for him, to negotiate in good faith.

I hope to see you in New London, as I stand with my brothers and sisters.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

An open letter to my L+M brothers and sisters

My brothers and sisters of Lawrence + Memorial Hospital,

As you begin what could be an historic week, I wish to try to express to you my admiration for your courage and leadership.
The battle you are fighting is not yours alone.  It is a battle that you fight for every health care worker in our state, and for our patients and communities.

You are a remarkable group of people.
You have dedicated yourselves to the care of your fellow man.
You are there for your patients and community at their birth, their death, and every step in between.
You share with them tears of joy, and tears of sadness.
For you it is not just a job, not just a profession, it is truly a vocation.

It is clear that the corporation that runs your hospital is more interested in lining their pockets and breaking the law, than in giving you the respect you deserve.
However, please know that you have the respect of your community, the faith community, the political community, and the labor community.
In particular, know that you have my respect, the respect of the Backus Federation of Nurses, and the respect of the entire AFT family.

If it were not for you, Local 5149 would not exist.
You were there for us in our struggles, and we will be here for you.
Your leadership has been our mentors and supporters as we learn what it means to be a union, and your membership an example of what "solidarity" truly means.
You are an exceptionable group of people, lead by an exceptional group of leaders.

It is with pride that we will join you on the sidewalks of New London this week.

In service,

John Brady
Backus federation of Nurses
AFT CT Local 5149

Friday, November 22, 2013

JFK lives in us

I was sitting in my 3rd grade class room at St James School, when the announcement came over the loudspeaker. 
Our president, our Jack, had been shot.

We prayed and then we left for the day.

We walked home in silence, greeted by my Aunt Rita, who was watching us for a few days.  She was puzzled when she saw us and when we told her, she didn't want to believe.

Our Mom and Dad were in California, ironically in the very hotel where Bobby would be killed in a few years time.

Within a few years, the forces of evil took Jack, Martin and Bobby.

But they could not take their dreams.

Their dreams live in the hearts and actions of all those who believe in the dignity of all people, who believe that a person's worth is not measured by their color, or class, or religion, or social standing, but by their commitment to helping their fellow man.

Their words guide us.
"Ask what you can do"
"I have a dream"
"I see what is not and ask, why not?"

They paid the ultimate price for what they believed in, can there be a greater cause?
May be rededicate ourselves to this cause.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lessons from the road (with deep respect to Jack Kerouac)

I have done more travelling this year than most of my previous years combined. 
I have been to Washington 3 times, and Baltimore and Chicago once each, all on union business. 

Now I'm returning from a family trip to Disneyworld. 

No more trips for awhile....
Well, till January, then it's San Diego...
and May,...Baltimore....
and July,....Los Angeles. 
But, then, no more trips for awhile....,,

One tip I'm learning from all this...,
Travel light. 

Nothing worse than schlepping too much unnecessary stuff on a trip. 
The same holds true with life, doesn't it?

Didn't JC send his followers out instructing them to take nothing extra with them?
Doesn't Toaism and Buddism teach simplicity?
Doesn't George Carlin have a skit about "stuff"?

It goes against our modern culture and American sense of self reliance, but maybe, in certain situations, we should give it a try. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Letting go in Florida

What would happen if I just let go?
I tend to be a planner. 
Nothing wrong with that I guess, it helps get things done, but it also sets up expectations, which if not met, lead to....
Some of my fondest vacation memories come from the unplanned events. Times when we happened upon a great restaurant experience or met some interesting people that we weren't expecting. 
Like this morning. 
I'm up early, before everyone else, sitting with coffee and blogging on my smart phone. I'm at an outdoor table in mid November, it's warm enough to be in shorts and sandals, there's plenty of hot coffee nearby, and when I look up, the full moon shines through the palm trees. 
Unplanned, unexpected, and unbelievable. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

We owe our veterans

What went through that young Marine's mind as his landing craft neared the beach?  He had found himself in the South Pacific, so far from his home in Rhode Island, facing an enemy he didn't know, an enemy that had attacked his country at Pearl Harbor. 
Like so many his age, including his brothers, he had put his life on hold, to defend his countryman. 
The front of the craft opened as they hit the beach. The young Marines rush ashore, directly into enemy fire. 
Many were hit, including our Marine from Rhode Island. 
The pain must have been unbearable as his clothes caught fire from the flame thrower. Only the courage of his comrades would save his life. 
He would spend a year in the hospital, with multiple skin grafts. He would receive Last Rites several times, but somehow, he would survive.
The scars would remain forever, and yet his children would not notice them. They would only see his inner beauty. 
He would marry and raise 6 children , including his writer. He would teach them more by example than word. He would teach acceptance of others, regardless of race, color, or creed. He would teach that all men, all women, have dignity. 
And his story would be repeated a million times with variations. It would be repeated by his brothers to their children. It would be repeated by those a who pulled him to safety, by others who have served and continue to serve, who he never knew, because this young Marine's story is remarkable, but it is not unique. 
It is the story of those who are willing to pay the intimate price. 
So when I'm discouraged, or tired, or when I wonder if fighting for what I believe in, what my father believed in, that all people should be treated with dignity, whatever their color, creed, race, sex, sexual preference, occupation, or social position, or anything else that makes them different from me, is worth the effort. When I wonder if it might not be easier to give in and let the people of privilege run things, when I wonder if I can make a difference, when I wonder if my brother of color, or poverty, or addiction, or homelessness, has a chance, I think of that young Marine, and what was going thoroughly his mind as he neared the beach. He must of had doubts, he might have been tired, he was probably scared. 
But he did not waver. 
His comrades did not waver. 
I must not waver. 
We must not waver. 
We owe it to them. 
We owe it to ourselves. 
I owe it to my dad. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

One option

The other day I got an email of desperation from a real good recovery room nurse.  I want to share it with you.

I know you have heard this over and over again but it has to be dealt with.  I left work yesterday crying and on the verge of quitting.  We had one call out and even without a call out we are in crisis mode.  We can't even go pee. The most recent saying from our clinical coordinator is I know your not ready but another one is coming out for you. (from the OR)  This is unacceptable.  We have two people hired to start in December but not enough staff to train them appropriately.  I know she, Judy, is going to expect us to take Pt's and train someone.  This is unacceptable.  We need travelers to help get us through and the OR gets them but we don't.  Everyone is aware of our situation but nothing gets done.  We have one traveler but its not enough and he is done late Nov.  I need some push on this issue.  Please help.

I responded by forwarding the email and the following to the hospital CEO, two vice presidents and the director of Quality for Hartford Healthcare.

Can someone please tell me how our continued, daily, beating to the pulp of nurses, not only in PACU, but throughout the hospital, is in the best interest of the organization, the employees, the patients or the community? 
It is a patient safety, patient satisfaction, and quality issue and it is an employee moral and retention issue.
Thank you for your consideration,

The next day PACU was better staffed.

Maybe it is because I have been patient for so, so, long.
Maybe it is because my nature is to cooperate, not confront.
Maybe it is because I cannot stand to see our nurses continuously disrespected.
Or maybe, I am just maturing as a Union President.

I will no longer stand bye and watch good nurses be bullied or harassed by management. 
I will  not watch them be short staffed.
I will not watch them be placed in a position to be injured.

There are two ways to receive respect.
It can be granted voluntarily by the other party, or it can be demanded and faught for.  
I have waited patiently for the respect to be granted to our nurses, it has not come.
That leaves one option.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

John Olsen

John Olsen served as president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO for 25 years.
25 years!

Imagine all the changes in that time.
Imagine the struggles, the victories, the defeats, the disappointments, the sleepless nights, the extreme highs.

Now he retires.
Not to sit in the sun, but to serve his fellow man some more, working with the John J Driscoll United Labor Agency and the Elderly Housing Development and Operations Corporation.
You see, John is tough and gruff on the outside, but his heart beats true with the desire to help those who others beat down, the homeless, the hungry, the immigrant, the disenfranchised.

Last Friday night, John was in a packed room of like minded people.  People to whom he is an example of how to live.  Care for your fellow man and don't be afraid to fight for them.

The Governor, both U S Senators, all 5 U S Representatives, Ted Kennedy jr, Rich Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, and a house full of union presidents and leaders, gathered to honor John and celebrate what he stands for.

Many gave speeches, many cheers went up. but no cheer was louder than the cheer for the union hotel workers who were serving us diner.  It was fitting because that's what John Olsen stands for, what he has dedicated his life to, what he has shown to us time and time again.
It can be summed up as this:

All work has meaning.
All people deserve respect.

Thanks John.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Boston Strong!

It's a good week to be in New England.
Our boys have done it, they are baseball's World Champions!

For someone who grew up with year after year of disappointment, year after year of good springs and summer fades, of 86 years of "the curse"..........
and then.......
We could all die happy.

But wait, the baseball gods were not done.
Having lifted the curse, they would reward us again in 2007!
Surely we did not deserve this, we celebrated, but wondered, what price would the gods demand for this second gift?

The past few years have been tough in New England, indeed, for the entire northeast.
An October snowstorm left us without power for weeks, Hurricane Sandy, flooding in Vermont, Sandy Hook Elementary School, and this spring, the Boston bombings.
The rest of the country has not been spared.  Hurricanes, oil spills, shootings, wildfires, and on and on.
With September 11 still fresh in our memories, no one could blame us if we felt a bit beaten down.
We had stood together after September 11, we had risen out of the ashes, we had new life.

The question became, could we do it again?

Maybe it took a city, a region, who had lived 86 years under "the curse" or maybe it was just time, but after the marathon, a new cry began.
It started slowly, quietly.  It started as they all do, not with voice, but with action. As the firefighters and police had rushed in on September 11, so did they on April 15.
Boston Strong
Boston Strong
Boston Strong
Boston Strong
Boston Strong
Soon it was a cry heard across the country, a cry that said, "You may knock us down, but we WILL get up!"
It became a cry of hope, not only for Boston, not only for New England or the northeast, but for all.
Boston Strong applied just as much to those fighting fire fires in the west, as bombings in the east.  It applied as much to the children of Newtown as the runners and spectators of Boston.
In one of the greatest displays of solidarity, the great New York Yankees declared that they too, were "Boston Strong!"

The gods could not ignore us any longer.  We had been tested. We had stood together and stood strong, Boston strong.

So, for the third time in my life, the Red Sox are World Champs, and this time, for the first time since 1918, the gods smiled on us and let us celebrate at Fenway.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Stop the world, I want to get off!

They say that idle hands are the tools of the devil.....
Maybe busyness is too?

I have never been this busy in my life. Emails, texts, and phone calls flood my smart phone. I keep a notebook in my pocket because if I don't write something down I will forget it, or 2 or 3 different issues will blend together in my mind. 
Organization is not my strong point, but without at least some organization, I am lost. 

Just when I think I'm caught up, the phone rings and the quite evening I had planned is gone. 
I struggle to find balance, but don't we all?
Aren't we all, to one extent or another, struggling with the pace of 24/7, instant contact, living. With trying to squeeze more and more into the same amount of hours?
Evolution has not prepared us for this. We need down time. We need a "sabbath", for our physical well being, our emotional health, and our spirtitual life. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Carol Adams RN

The year was 1985, when an LPN came to work at Backus Hospital.
Five years latter she would become an RN.
For 28 years she has served the people of the Norwich area at the bedside, healing them, comforting them.

She has mentored more young nurses than we can recall, she has gained the admiration and respect of her colleagues, the medical staff, and employees across the hospital.
Last week she called it a "shift" when she retired.

But Carol will never truly retire, there is no such thing as a "former nurse."

I came to know Carol in a special way a few years ago.  She has become a teacher, a trusted adviser, and a close friend.
In Washington, she took me to the Smithsonian Museum of Fine Arts and as we went room to room, she patiently explained paintings, giving the history of the artist and the history of when and where the paintings were created.
At social and political gathering, she gracefully moves from person to person, equally at ease having conversations with senators, congresspeople, governors, and waitstaff. When she catches the eye of a legislator, a smile comes to their face.

When I reached out to her to serve as Local 5149's Political Liaison, she graciously accepted.
It is truly a gift having her in the role.
Time and again I turn to her for advise, or help, and she never lets me down.

Carol will no longer be at the bedside, for the first time in nearly 30 years, but she will continue to to serve her colleagues, her profession, the people of the Norwich area, and the labor movement as a retired member of Local 5149, our Political Liaison, and delegate to the AFL-CIO and our State and National Federations.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

L+M,Malloy, trade barbs

L+M Corporation is at it again.

First they lay off workers, move work to other L+M locations, hire new workers for substandard wages and more expensive insurance, deny them their rights under the contract, refuse a compromise with the unions, threaten kitchen and environmental staff with layoffs,  make plans to bring in scab workers before contract negotiations even begin, and now they're biting the hand that feeds them, the State of Connecticut.
I guess it wasn't enough that the U S Government has brought charges against them for breaking Labor Law.

As reported from New London in The Day, Governor Malloy, in a open letter, expressed "deep concerns" about the hospital's "current healthcare, employment and community service practices."
"After hearing from your healthcare workers and service employees, and in light of the decision by the National Labor Relations Board to file a formal complaint against you, I believe there are several serious areas of concern that deserve a response."
In his letter, the governor cited L+M's transfer of positions covered by collective bargaining agreements to newly created L+M affiliates whose employees are not covered by union contracts, and the hospital's recent layoff of 44 employees who were not offered jobs at the newly created affiliates.
The transfer, Malloy wrote, "appears to be a legal maneuver designed to avoid providing the wage rates and health insurance agreed to in existing union contracts."
The governor called on L+M "to take every possible step" to reach a new labor agreement before an existing one expires next month.
"Contacting town officials before contract negotiations had begun to discuss the use of replacement workers in the event of a strike clearly runs counter to that concept," he wrote.
Finally, Malloy wrote, the roughly 180 employees working in L+M's cafeteria and environmental services departments who are covered by union contracts "deserve to know if they are at risk of elimination."
L+M Corporation responded:
"It is ironic that Gov. Malloy is now expressing 'deep concerns about the current healthcare, employment and community service practices' at L+M after his budget cut funding to this institution...We would have expected better from our state's chief executive."
The National Labor Relations Board trial against L+M states Monday. 

L+M Corporation should take a lesson from the tea party government shutdown fiasco,
and ask themselves,
How does this end well?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Living United

It is not every day that Backus CEO Dave Whitehead and I agree, but when it comes to the United Way, we do.  
Local 5149 has held several food drives to support the Gemma E Moran United Way/Labor Food Center.  
Today Dave and I released a joint statement supporting the United Way annual drive.
The United Way helps countless people in their time of need. Organized Labor, Management, and the community all play a large role in it's support.
Please join me in helping our neighbors.

Please read the joint statement below from Backus President and Chief Executive Officer Dave Whitehead and Union President John Brady, RN, encouraging participation in the 2013 United Way campaign.

Improving the health and quality of life of our community takes more than just one hospital or social service agency. That is why Backus leadership and the Backus Federation of Nurses jointly endorse the annual United Way campaign, and we highly encourage all Backus employees to participate at the level that they are able.

United Way believes in advancing the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all. That makes United Way a partner in the Backus mission — improving our region’s health. Together with United Way, we can create better community wellness, help children thrive, meet basic human needs and promote independence.

Please support the 2013 campaign by filling out a pledge form and returning it to Mary Brown in Volunteer and Guest Services. If you need a form you can get one by stopping by the volunteer office or emailing her atmebrown@wwbh.org

Again, thank you for helping make southeastern Connecticut a better – and healthier – place. Your generosity is crucial to making this year’s United Way campaign a success.

Friday, October 11, 2013

All politics is local

Tip O'Neil coined the phase "All politics is local."
It means a politician's success is directly tied to his ability to understand and influence the issues of his constituents. Politicians must appeal to the everyday concerns of those who elect them into office. 

It's important to remember this principle in this age when it seams a small group of people with a large amount of money, can so influence our politicians, that they go against what they know to be best for their constituents and the country and shut down the government.

Politicians are so worried about being challenged within their own political party, in a primary, that they fear doing what they know is right.

However, we should not despair.  These small groups may have all the money, but we, the people, have all the votes. 
Most elections are determined by the smallest of margins.  Voter apathy is understandable, but it is our downfall.
If more like minded people registered and voted, entire elections could be swung.  

Consider this.
In 2006 Joe Courtney defeated Rob Simmons for Connecticut's 2nd district congressional race by 94 votes.
94 votes.
There are 715,000 residents and 433,699 registered voters in the district.
242,360 people voted.
Had Simmons registered another 95 supporters, or had another 95 Simmons registered supporters voted, the outcome would have reversed.
Town and city races are determined on even less votes.

Our goal then, must be to increase the number of registered voters and convince them that not only does their vote matter, it is the only thing standing between democracy and our country being totally control by the very few and the very rich.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


I am on the plane returning from Chicago and the AFT Small Locals Task Force. 18 Local presidents from around the country have come together, at the direction of AFT president Randi Weingarten, to identify and suggest solutions to problems unique to Locals of 600 or fewer members. We met in Washington in August and identified areas of high concern. This weekend, we discussed possible solutions. We will meet in January to develop suggestions for the AFT Executive Board. The board will use those suggestions to develop policy and present our findings at the AFT Convention next July. 

It is an honor to serve on such a select task force. We have presidents from all around the country, from locals larger and smaller than mine. We have teachers, para professionals, higher ed, public service and health care. Some have been in Local leadership for 25 years and some a few months. Most are involved at their state federation level as executive board, council, or committee members. 
I hope that I bring something to the table in that I represent health care and newly organized Locals. 
I also hope that we can help AFT better serve small Locals, which make up 3000 of the 3400 AFT Locals. 

Bedsides being an honor, serving on this task force is a learning opportunity and a chance to network, with leaders from around the country, AFT Washington staff, and AFT leadership. President Randi Weingarten has spoken to us by phone and AFT Executive VP, Francine Lawrence, has been at both meetings.  The opportunity to have a relationship with leaders and staff members at this level, to be on a first name basis, to have Francine greet me with, "How are you John? How are things in Connecticut?", or to have Lynne Mingarelli, Deputy Director of Research and Statigic Initiatives, kiddingly ask, "Have we got things straightened out at L+M yet?" is invaluable, and somewhat unique for the leadership of a small Local. (By the way, the Washington staff now have "I am L+M" buttons.)
It is also testimony to the respect the Backus nurses hold with our state federation leadership, who recommended me. 

There is much good work to be done and the involvement of the 3000 smalls Locals is crucial to that work. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

(Tea) Party's over, you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here

"You've reached the United States Government, we can't come to the phone right now, we're having a tea party."

What do you call a group of people who conspire to shut down the government?
Here in the US, we call them the Tea Party!

Don't blame the Republicans, they're being held hostage too.

The latest threat is over Obamacare.
Or is it?

Is the Tea Party really against Americans having affordable health care?  Against 18-26 year olds having insurance? Against seniors being able to afford both medicine and food?  Against low paid, hard working Americans who have no insurance through work, getting the opportunity to purchase it at affordable rates on the open market?

Who could be against that?

I think it's all a diversion.  I think they have one goal.
Shutting down OUR government.

I haven't figured out why yet, but then again, how does one understand the logic of a terrorist?
I do think that we must all band together, Democrats, Republicans, Green Party, Libertarians, Independents, and everybody else, to tell them that the Tea Party is over, we're taking our country back!

This is the greatest country in the world.  We've faced terrorist before and we'll face them again.  We must recognise them for what they are, and face them together.
We must say to them, "This is my country, my government, and it is open for business, and will not be held hostage.  You have the right to disagree, and I will defend that right to the death, but you do not have the right to shut us down.  This is the United States Government, "Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country."

"Press one, but there are no other options."

Friday, September 27, 2013

I met WHO?

I started this unionist work to be a part of a movement to improve things at the hospital and as a result, I have been invited into coworker's living rooms and lives, I have developed wonderful friendships, and I have traveled  places, and met people, that I would have never imagined.
I have been to Washington several times, Baltimore, and will soon be in Chicago and San Diego.
I have met the Governor and our US and State Senators and Representative several times, all kinds of Organized Labor Giants and Community Leaders.
I have spoken before National Labor Relations Board and the AFL-CIO in Washington, at State AFT and AFL-CIO Conventions and to the National Federation of Nurses.

Sometimes I feel like maybe I've been mistaken for someone else.

All that being said, I was not expecting what came yesterday.
I have been at the Connecticut AFL-CIO Convention the last three days and often, President John Olsen, himself a labor giant, will pause to recognize someone in the hall.  So yesterday, he paused, recognized Ted Kennedy, and mentioned that he would say a few words at the upcoming fundraising reception for the United Labor Agency, which meets the human service needs of workers and their families.
I thought, "boy he's got a famous name."

Shortly after that, I was standing at the reception with AFT CT President Melodie Peters and VP Steve McKeever, when this Ted Kennedy came by to say hello.
Melodie asked him, "Do you know John Brady, he represents the registered nurses of Backus Hospital?"
"Nice to meet you John," he said, we shook hands and he asked about the hospital and who we represent both at Backus and elsewhere.
We spoke for several minutes, then he moved on to speak with others.

I made some silly comment to Melodie and Steve about famous names, because one of my sons is named Tom Brady.

When it came time for Ted Kennedy to speak, John Olsen spoke about his family and I suddenly realized.
THE Ted Kennedy!

You have to understand, going up in an Irish Catholic family in the 60s, the Church hierarchy was Jesus, the Pope, and the Kennedys, and not necessarily in that order.

I was so excited that I called my wife who said, "That's nice, hey, could you go to Stop and Shop on the way home?"

I represent the greatest group of people in the world, people who give their heart and soul every day in the care of others.
As a result, it has opened up a world of new experiences, but my better half has a way of reminding me of my place.
It's the place of all of us really.
Me, you, or a Kennedy, our place is to be of service to each other.