Wednesday, February 4, 2015

We never gain anything we aren't willing to fight for

I got to know Erin Benham when we served together on an AFT national task force on small unions.
Erin is President of the Meriden Federation of Teachers.
She has a relationship with her superintendent that is based on mutual respect.
They work together to better the lives of their students in a model of solution driven unionism, of a Labor/Management team finding common ground.

It is a relationship that I both admire and wish for the Backus Federation and our hospital.
I see glimpses of it from time to time.  I believe some in management desire it.
I had hoped we could enter negotiations in this spirit.
I had hoped that management would have learned from the example of our L+M sisters and brothers of what happens to a hospital when it stands against cooperation.
But experience shows me that some days we take one step forward and two steps back.
So be it.

Erin told me that she did not always enjoy a cooperative relationship with her administration.
In fact, at one time she was know as "the enforcer" because of the way she had to stand up for her teachers.  Erin developed her current relationship because she stood up in strength.

I have been fighting the same battle since 2011.
That's OK, that's the story of the Labor Movement.
We never get anything we aren't willing to fight for.

My last blog spoke of this desire to have mutual respect.
I still desire it.
However, rereading my last blog, I was concerned that it could be misinterpreted as me asking for respect.
Let me clarify.
I don't ask for respect.
I don't demand respect.
I don't care if management respects me or not.
I will stand up for my nurses and I will stand up for my patients.
The offer remains there if management wishes for a respectful and cooperative relationship, but respect is not something you ask for, not something you earn, not something you demand, it is something you take.

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