Sunday, July 21, 2013

AFT Healthcare

Having just finished 3 guest blogs by the 3 presidents form L+M hospital, I'd like to try to explain what the help and support of the other AFT Healthcare Locals means to the Backus Local and to me personally.

AFT has 5 divisions, Healthcare being one of them and being the fastest growing.  It is made up of Registered Nurse locals, LPN/Tech locals, and Healthcare Worker locals.  Each of us brings our own issues and strengths to the table and we work as one to solve all of them, for the good of our members, our families, and most importantly, our patients. The division is led by Mary McDonald, one of the 5 Divisional Directors.

In our drive to organize and obtain a first contract the AFT Healthcare Locals were critical, offering advise and support every step of the way. They were there at our rally, our informational picketing, our planning sessions and our negotiations. This is not to say we could have been successful without the help of the locals of the other 4 divisions.  After one AFT sponsored trip to Washington to lobby legislators for help, I kidingly thanked my brother Mike, a member of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, for paying my way. His response was "no problem, you can pay me back when you start collecting dues."
That's how it works, one member helping the other.

This help is why, when the National Federation of Nurses, a union of 28,000 RN's, voted to affiliate with AFT, I was glad to participate in their orientation.  It's our way of paying back.

The Connecticut Healthcare Locals have been our guides and our mentors.  The relationships between the leaderships of the locals is close and special.
The three L+M and one Backus Locals are especially close, often acting as one.
( I have been known to refer to the Backus Federation the 4th L+M local)
One example is the new car deal we negotiated for our members at Valenti Auto, but there are so many other examples, like our joint visits to Congressman Courtney and Senators Murphy and Blumenthol in Washington, to lobby for a fair vote and contract at Backus and again for fairness at L+M when the hospital tried to eliminate union jobs by shifting the work to LMPA (a division within the hospital) (ed note-the National Labor Relations Board has sided with the Union on this).

Lisa, Stephanie, and Harry, the three L+M presidents, or as I like to call them, The Three Amigos, are my closest personal mentors.  Each has their own personality, their own strengths, their own way of doing things. They have accepted me, not as the new kid on the block, but as an equal.  They are always there for me, always ready to support, advise, and guide,and yet, always ready to listen too.

AFT has the strength of 1.5 million members, each supporting the other, and yet we maintain autonomy at the Local level.  I think it works well.

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