Saturday, December 6, 2014

Proper use of power

This was a busy week.
After working Tuesday, I flew to Cincinnati with Harry Rodriguez, the president of the L+M Hospital Healthcare Workers, getting to the hotel about 1:00 am.
Wednesday and Thursday were filled with meetings, discussions, and training at the ICWUC Center for Worker Health and Safety Education, with fellow AFT members and staff, Roger Woods (Danbury Hospital), Bernie Gerard (HPAE) (New Jersey), Darryl Alexander, and Jonathan Rosen, along with members of National Nurses United, AFGE (government employees), AFSCME, IAM (machinists/airline) and CBTU (black trade unionists).

Our discussions involved not only preparation for Ebola, but all infectious diseases.
For instance, virologists have said for years, that it is a matter of when, not if, we have a flu pandemic.
Our goal is to keep our workers and the public safe.
The amount of knowledge and sharing in that room was amazing!
Hopefully it will lead to training programs for many workers.

Immediately after the session ended on Thursday, Harry and I were back on a plane, getting home about 1:00 am, as we both had to work Friday morning.

It wasn't all work, we squeezed in dinner and breakfast with our AFT brothers and sisters. That comradery is always an important part of trips like this, it builds relationships.

Also this week, a decision came down in the Eric Garner death.
His death was a tragic loss, and there seems to have been too many such deaths this year.
I do not wish to pass judgement.
I feel for police, they put there own safety on the line every day.  I also know that racism still exists, that people of color are disproportionately arrested and incarcerated, and that bad cops exist.  That does not mean all cops are bad, or that all young black men are criminals.
It's tragic, we need to address it, and I support non violent actions to bring that change about.

These incidents also point to a global problem.
That is, the abuse of power, by anyone who holds such power over another.
Connecticut is a good example, our former Governor will soon return to jail for the second time, caught in an abuse of power.
Politicians and police do not hold a monopoly however.

Business people can abuse power when they do not behave in an ethical manner. When they violate workers rights, when they pollute the environment, when the cut safety corners, when they reap excessive profits while those working for them are not paid a living wage or receive appropriate benefits.

But we who are Labor leaders must also look in the mirror.
Are we good stewards of our members dues?
Do we give equal consideration to all regardless of how we feel personally about them?
Do we treat other Labor leaders and members with respect?
Do we operate in an open and honest manner?
Do we think, always, not what is best for me, but what is best for my members and the society we serve?

We who are leaders, regardless if police, politician, business, Labor, or other, are in an inherent position of power and have with it a higher obligation to act ethically.

Cincinnati was a working trip in the middle of a busy week. We were tired by the end of it. We could have passed on it and stayed home, but it was important to be part of the conversation, so we went.
That does not us special.
That's what we were elected to do.

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