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.