Friday, January 10, 2014

Small Union Task Force

So, I'm off today for San Diego.
It's the third and probably last gathering of the AFT Small Unions Task Force.
It's the sixth trip in the past 12 months for union business.
Maybe I should get paid by the mile?

In a way, that's what this task force is about.

AFT is set up so that each individual Local is an independent federation or union. In the case of my Local, it allows the Backus nurses the greatest say over their own destiny.
We control our own budget (thanks to the incredible work of our treasurer, Donna Callicutt). We control what issues are important to us when it comes to negotiating. We decide who, if anyone, we endorse in political campaigns. Etc.
All our officers, executive board members, delegates, and members, work in the hospital, not in some far off office where we never see or hear from them.

You get the picture.  It's a grass roots organization.

That's good in so many ways.  It's also a challenge due to the limited resources available to a small Local.
This task force is charged to study, and offer recommendations, on this challenge.
How can AFT best help Locals that are small enough to have leaders that work full time in the workplace, a small business in their spare time.

These trips are a good example.
Yes, our expenses will be covered, but, unlike hospital or school management, who might go to conventions and meetings as part of their work week, our time is on our own.
That's why it's on a weekend, because many of the 18 Local presidents who make up the task force are teachers. Others, like me, will use vacation time.

I hope it doesn't sound like I'm complaining.
I have never been involved in anything so fulfilling in my life.  I am grateful for the opportunity to be appointed to assignments like this and for the opportunity to serve my fellow members.
It's a great opportunity to meet members and leaders from all over the country, to share ideas, and to make friends and connections.

This task force is but one example of many.  Workers helping workers, people helping people, all working in solidarity with limited resources for the greater good.

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