Saturday, August 15, 2015

Safe Staffing Bill Signing

" I know the president is here, but were is Brady?" the Governor said, turning to his right (where I had been told to stand by his staffer) and handing me the Safe Staffing bill he had just signed.
It was an incredible honor to accept the bill on behalf of so many people who testified and supported it's passage. They had asked members of AFT, the AFL-CIO, the Connecticut Nurses Association, and others to attend the signing and unknown to me, Jan had asked if I could be the one who was handed the bill.
Just prior to the signing, Jan (AFT CT president Jan Hochadel) and I had met with the Lt Governor in her office and prior to that had lunch with the State Attorney General.
I try not to sound like a braggart or like a country bumpkin who is enthralled by the big city, but you have to remember, two months ago I was working bedside in an emergency room and being scrutinized if my charting wasn't perfect or I had punched in a minute late for work.
It's a little bit of a change.
The bill itself builds in the right direction. Some of these things need to be gained incrementally, by developing trusting relationships with legislators, by educating them, and by supporting candidates who think of patients before profits. 2 years ago we passed a bill requiring a staffing committee of 50% bedside RNs that reported to the DPH when asked. This bill calls for mandatory quarterly reporting, includes ancillary staff, includes a description of what the hospital staffing plan is, and if they are not achieving the plan, what the plan is to achieve that staffing plan. It's a major step forward.
Being able to represent the close to 30,000 members of AFT Connecticut is indeed an honor.
It means long days but I know that our nurses and other health professionals work 12 hour shifts and sometimes longer and I know the stress they work under.
I know that our teachers and other educators will be heading back to school soon and will often set up their classrooms with supplies they have purchased out of their own pockets. I know they will work late into the night planning classes and correcting papers, I know they will toss and turn at night, worried about their students.
I know our public employees go above and beyond to assist the public they serve, I've experienced their guiding hand myself in the past.
AFT calls itself a "Union of Professionals" and we are, but we are also a Union of Caregivers, whether we are Healthcare, Education, or Public Servant.  And we are joined by our sisters and brothers of other unions in these endeavors.
I'm not going to lie. 
Being handed the Staffing bill by the Governor, was a blast and an honor.
But representing our members and the people we serve is the greatest honor of all.

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