Sunday, May 26, 2013

Quite a Ride

"I'm conflicted about public speaking.  I still get nervous......but I enjoy the attention."
So began my talk to about 30 nurse leaders of the National Federation of Nurses in Washington this week.  Their laughter told me that they could identify with my statement.
I find that my unplanned, off the cuff statements usually end up being my best received, and my most truthful.

I spoke Thursday to this group as part of their orientation to the American Federation of Teachers. I told them the story of the Backus Hospital Nurse's successful campaign to organize and obtain a first contract, about the effort mounted against us, and about the help and support we received from the labor community, the public and politicians, and AFT Connecticut and AFT Washington.

Later, AFT president Randi Weingarten spent some time with us.  She's president of 1.5 million AFT members and had just flown in from a trip to South America, but she came to spend some time and have an informal conversation with us.
I've met and had my picture taken with her before.
It's not like she could pick me out of a crowd at the market, but she remembers the nurses of Backus and I've heard her refer to us and our struggle more than once in speeches.

Friday morning I was back at work, answering call bells, giving meds and emptying bedpans, and going home to a list of chores.
This year I've been to Washington twice and Baltimore once on Union business, I've toured the hospital with a US Senator, had cheese and crackers with the Governor and our executive board at our office, been on conference calls about the state budget with other AFT Local leaders, and conversed with state politicians on bills and issues important to us.  I serve on a Department of Public Health advisory committee, the AFT Connecticut health care council and convention credentialing committee, and been on the radio for the United Way.

With all of that, you want to know what my grandchildren ask me.........Grandpa, can you take us to McDonalds?
Some people remember who I am, but most just remember who I represent, the nurses of Backus.
THAT is what is is important to them.

It's a bit overwhelming at times.
It certainly feeds the part of me that enjoys the attention.
Mostly though, I'm just the guy medicating the patients, doing the chores, taking the grand kids to McDonalds, and having the privilege of representing the nurses of Backus, who care for the sick day in and day out.

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