Saturday, March 7, 2015


I sat in one chair, (Elizabeth)Glenn, an AFT national rep sat in another chair and on the couch across from us, an  oncology nurse from my hospital.
We talked about all the changes happening at the hospital, about how they had frozen our pension, eliminated our longevity bonus, etc, and the need for us to do something about it.

Our nurse got quiet; she looked down at the floor.

There was a long pause.

She lifted her head and she looked at me with tear filled eyes.
"John, they took away my peanut butter. My patients often have only a short period when they are not sick to their stomachs from their chemo and I would give them crackers with peanut butter, so that they would have some protein. Now they've taken my peanut butter."

It wasn't the loss of pension, or bonuses, or raises, or anything else, that moved her.
It was when they took from her patients.

Back in the car, I guess I was quiet, because Glenn asked if I was OK.

I turned to her and said, "I will never stop fighting for people like her. Never."

Since that time, several years ago,  I have travelled widely and spoken to members, leaders and staff from all over the country.
Whether in healthcare, education, or public service, they all say the same thing.
Someone, somewhere, at some time, has taken away their "peanut butter."
Someone took from their patients, their students, the public, or the members they serve.

These conversations have changed my life.
I was reminded of their importance recently when a friend pointed out that as prevalent as social media is today, it is the one to one conversations that are the most powerful.

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