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

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."