Tuesday, December 31, 2013
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