Saturday, December 31, 2016

A walk through 2016

2016 had it's share of challenges and trials for me. I won't rehash them all, we all face them. Nor will I attempt to predict what 2018 will bring, your guess is as good as mine.

I will say that overall, I am glad for 2016.
I think I grew, personally and professionally.
I think I became a better listener, to others and to that voice inside me.

I want to thank all of you who walked beside me on the journey of 2016.
A good friend tells me that while she may not always agree or approve of the decisions I make, she will always be there for me.
What more can one ask?
I know that I have many friends and family who feel the same, and I know that while I must walk my own journey, I never have to walk it alone.

2017 will surly bring it's own trials.
I hope you remember as you walk your journey, that their are others who will always be there for you.

I wish you a happy and healthy 2017.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Holiday Wishes

I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a Joyous Maulid al-Nabia, a Blessed Kwanzaa, a Joyous Festivus, or what ever you celebrate this time of the year.

Whether you celebrate as a secular or religious holiday, I hope this time of the year can be a time of peace in an unsettled world.

I will once again celebrate the birth of Jesus the Nazarene.
Growing up I learned that he came to be born so that he could save us from our sins.
I still believe this to be true, but I think he did it more by his life, than his death.
When I think about his teachings, and those of John the Baptist, his cousin; and how they lived their lives, I see the real beauty in what he did.
He spent most of his life as a carpenter, a laborer.
He came to know the life and struggles of the ordinary people.
At age 30, he began his mission of preaching the message of love.  He went to the people, roaming from village to village, recruiting fishermen and even a tax collector to help him.  He did not preach from a position of authority, he had no pulpit, he held no office. Within 3 years the ruling party became concerned enough that they crucified him.
But still, his message of love of God and of our neighbor did not die with him. It spread to all corners of the world.

Without a doubt, his name and his message have been used to justify great horrors, but that does not change the fundamental truths which he taught:
That we are all neighbors.
That God (however we understand our higher power) is love.
That it is not our place to judge others.
That we have an obligation to forgive.
That we have a responsibility to share our fortunes with others.
That it is morally wrong to oppress others.

These teachings are not unique to Jesus.
Other spiritual leaders have independently preach the same, which makes it universal.
Many of my friends who do not believe in God, believe in these teachings.

So my friends, my wish for you this season is that you find moments of peace in this troubled world, that you find rest in the fact that your Higher Power is Love, that you remain strong in your convictions to these universal teachings.

Have a Blessed Holiday.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Voice in Vancouver

I was sitting in a meeting of state workers this week and one of our newly organized AAGs (Assistant Attorney Generals) said that it was a good feeling now that "they had a voice."

I got emotional when she said it.
You see, that's why we organized at my hospital.
We negotiate for wages, benefits and working conditions but we organize for a voice.
Hearing her saying this reminded me of how universal it is.

This week, over 900 service and maintenance workers at Peach Health SW Hospital in Vancouver, Washington voted to have a voice.
They voted to join AFT as part of the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Healthcare Professionals, as over 300 Technicians and Technologists did in a separate vote earlier this year. These two groups join the RNs, who are members of the Washington State Nurses Association, an AFT affiliate.

I am so happy for our newest sisters and brothers.
I am happy for the many people who worked to make this possible.
I am happy that I belong to a union that believes in it's growing healthcare division and believes healthcare workers need to have a voice to advocate for themselves, their families, their patients, and their communities.

When AFT reached out for help in this major project, state affiliates from across the country responded. I want to thank in a special way, Connecticut's organizing team for the incredible work they did and the sacrifice they made in being away from home for several weeks.
It was my privileged to spend a week with them in Vancouver. A privilege to work with the AFT organizing staff, all the wonderful organizers who came from across the country, the leadership of OFNHP and WSNA, and the workers in the hospital.
Whatever help I may have been pales in what I got out of the experience.
Thank you Jan for having the wisdom to send me.

The AFT started when teachers joined in union to have a voice.
It is based on a philosophy of the "organizing model" because from our earliest days we understood that to have a voice was everything, and that the only way to have a voice was to come together in unity.
Today our members work in Education, Healthcare and Public Service. We are teachers, para-educators, nurses and other healthcare workers, lawyers, social workers, judicial professionals, accountants, and so many more.
We are diverse but we share common interests.
We care for people, the students, patients, and public we serve.
We believe in the organizing model, that everyone should have a voice.
We started with a group of teachers looking for a voice.
Today we are 1.6 million voices in unity.

Today, that includes the voices of Peach Health SW Hospital.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

SEBAC explained by a private sector worker

I think many things in the public sector can be confusing to those who work in the private sector.
SEBAC, which was in the news again this week, is one of those.

SEBAC is a coalition of Connecticut state workers who bargain as a group for healthcare and retirement benefits.
It makes a lot of sense, otherwise, the state could potentially have different healthcare and retirement plans for each agency, which would not only be a nightmare to administer, but would be much more costly, since there are savings in plans with more members.

Unfortunately, the state has underfunded the retirement plan since the 1930s.
You don't have to be an accountant to understand where this would lead.
Once baby boomer state workers started coming of retirement age, we were in trouble.
Kind of like falling behind on your home improvement loan and then one day,
it's due!
It's not the state workers fault.
Frankly, it's the residents of Connecticut fault, for allowing our elected leaders to do this.

Of course, the state workers are an easy scapegoat.
It's easier than admitting we are all part of the problem.
And of course, the state workers have a real interest in fixing the problem.

So twice, in 2009 and 2011, the workers gave concessions to fix a problem they did not make.
But the problem remains because of chronic under-funding and more recent market performance.

So this week, once again, the state employees agreed to changes in the plan.
The new agreement is a long-term plan to properly fund the system and to use a more conservative assumption on the expected return on investments, while at the same time, protecting the hard earned retirement of our public service workers.  Instead of trying to "pay the bill" all at once, it stretches it over several years.

To me, this seems like a win-win.
The residents of the state of Connecticut get out of a retirement problem that we, and those who came before us, caused, and the state workers have their retirement protected.

I have already seen some say that the retirement benefits of state workers are too rich.
I disagree.
The concessions of 2009 and 2011 provided for multiple tiers, based on when a person started working for the state.  New employees retirement is not as it once was. New employee retirement is in line with the private sector.
The only people getting great retirements in this day and age are the millionaires, some of whom love to drive a wedge between private and public sector workers, so we are distracted from their imminence wealth and refusal to pay their fair share of taxes, while they laugh all the way to the bank. (which is probably in the Cayman Islands)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Duke Abdalla "The Indian"

My heart is heavy.
Duke Abdalla, the man who carried my father to safety after he had been hit by a phosphorus grenade on a South Pacific beach in 1945, passed away this morning. Duke's love for my father drove him to risk his life to save my dad. Had it not been for that day, I and my 5 siblings would have never been born. Growning up my family knew of this story, but Duke never talked about it due to PTSD. I always found it interesting that he named his oldest son Brady. 
Then in 2005 Duke opened up to another Mariene. Duke then told his story to his Grandson's wife and she wrote it down in a book, Stand Like a Man. This is a clip of part of his story.  At the 1:00 mark he tells about my dad. Recently, through some research my sister-in-law was doing, we found out about the book and the effort to get Duke the recognition he deserves but never received, and our 2 families have connected. 
Duke was the great-grandson of Chief Running Bull of the Yankton Sioux. He was a U S Marine. He was my father's brother. My heart is heavy but I know he and my dad and my uncles are hanging out together in heaven today.
Below is the email from his eldest grandson, Doug.

Cpl. Loren Duke Abdalla "The Indian" 1925 - 2016
Cpl. Loren Duke Abdalla "The Indian" passed away this morning peacefully. I will follow up with  another email with funeral arrangements.
GOD Bless his son and wife, my Uncle Brady and Aunt Verna for the unbelievable care he received all through his elder years. Anything he needed 24/7 they were there and things always looked good, because they were behind the scene taking care of business all the way to the end of his trail.
Thank You to my Beautiful Wife, Donna, for getting all the facts and writing them down and telling his story in the book that was written Extremely Well, Stand Like a Man: The Story of Duke "The Indian" I pray his story will be told for many generations to come.
The last book he signed for me was for The Brady Family, as they heard about Duke's story just last month, while looking up their Dad on the internet, Cpl. John Brady, and they could not wait to help Duke get the proper recognition he deserved and contacted my wife through her website for the book, and quickly wrote a witness letter for the DOD stating how Duke carried their Dad out of heavy fire, and they are all grateful to him for saving his life on May 5, 1945. With this 2nd witness letter, Grandpa Duke now knew his story was now complete and had went full circle, like the  Native American Medicine Wheel. This was his closure, and now he can Rest in Peace. To The Brady Family, Thank You!!!
Everyone did Everything they could to support him, and these last 8 years have been a True Blessing!! He Stood Like a Man and was recognized by many, City of Chicago, Cook and Lake County's, State Capitol of Illinois, and most recently last year he was recognized by The Yankton Sioux Tribe in South Dakota and placed on a buffalo skin rug with a sacred ceremony and Honored with a painted Red Eagle Feather and given the name of his Great-Grandfather Running Bull. He swelled with Pride, and I was a lucky grandson, who he liked to call his driver, and I would parade him around and present his story like I was presenting a Rolls Royce. 15 Governors from Alabama to Wyoming Thanked him as well, and SD Governor Dennis Daugaard even Honored him with "Loren Duke Abdalla Day" on June 18, 2012, his birthday. He was a Member of The Old Breed and the Greatest Generation and he walked with Giants, and he was gonna make sure his story was told and his swan song was more like a Roar of a Lion. I knew Grandpa was always a Family Treasure and Loving to all of us, but when I heard what he did during the Battles of Peleliu and Okinawa during WWII, that is when I knew he was a National Treasure and we needed to get his story out there somehow.
The best part of this is Everyone did come together and he knew Everyone was Thankful for his Service, and he enjoyed this time.
Thank You Everyone for ALL of Your Love and Support for a True Hero!!!
May the Story of Cpl. Loren Duke Abdalla "The Indian" Live Forever and a Day!!!
GOD Bless and Rest in Peace Grandpa Duke.... We Love You!!!
Doug Nykolaycuyk

Eldest Grandson

DeVos and Price

It has been said that President-Elect Trump is not a "detail" guy, but more of a "big picture" guy. 
I get that.
I'm kind of like that myself at times.
I know I don't have to be the expert or the best at doing everything, I just have to surround myself with those types of people and support them.

So let me comment of my concerns about the choices the President-Elect is making in the people he is surrounding himself with.
In particular, let me comment on two of those recent choices, Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education and Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services.
They have something in common.

They both believe in privatization.

Good, you might say.
Private enterprise is what made this country great.
It's the American way.
That's what Capitalism is about.
Our schools and our healthcare system need a shakeup.

There is some truth to this.
Many of our schools are in need of improvement.
Our healthcare system is expensive and out of the reach of some.
We should reform them.

But let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

DeVois is a proponent of charter schools. Charter schools were designed to be incubators of new ideas that could then be brought into all public schools so that all would benefit.  They have evolved into private schools who are funded with taxpayer dollars and can often hand select students who will not require extra help due to learning disabilities. It's like a sports team being given all the best players in the league and then winning the championship.
Big surprise.
Except in this case, they often do not even win the championship. Often, they do not outperform the local public schools, even though the playing field is not level.
Why is that?

Price believes we should privatize healthcare. 
To be sure, there are issues with the ACA, with Medicare, with Medicaid, with the VA healthcare system, with social security, that need addressing.
But let me ask a few questions.
Does anyone believe that our seniors or our disabled should have to decide between food and medical care?  Do we believe that nurses should be told to turn away patients if they lack insurance and the ability to pay?  Do we think that large insurance companies and large healthcare corporations have our interests first, our their own interests first?
We should reform our healthcare system.
We should provide care for all.
We should provide financial security for our seniors.
These are not "entitlements."  We have been paying into these programs our entire working lives.

At the same time, we need to control costs, we need to protect access, we need to put small business owners on a level paying field with big business, and big business in this country on a level playing field with big business oversees.
As is education, there is need for reform.
But again, let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

There is a reason some people want to privatize education and healthcare.
Let's be honest here.

There is money to be made.
If there were not, private companies would not want to own schools, hospitals, insurance companies, and drug companies.

But what's wrong with that?
Isn't that capitalism, isn't that what makes this country great?
Except that those who want to privatize our education  and healthcare system want to do it with my money. 
And your money.

They want your tax money, your social security contributions, your insurance premiums.
We should tell them, keep your hands off my money. 
The Price (and DeVos) is not right.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

PeaceHealthSW caregivers standing together

The caregivers of PeaceHealth SW in Vancouver, Washington have spoken.
In a 3 way vote between AFT /OFNHP, another union, and no union, AFT received 46%.
The other union and the hospital (no union) ended in a virtual tie with 26% each.
After a recount, the NLRB will determine who came in second, and there will be a runoff between AFT/OFNHP and that entity.

If the presidential election has taught us anything, it is that nothing is certain, but it appears that the overwhelming majority of health care workers at PeaceHealth SW will stand together as AFT sisters and brothers and members of OFNHP and WSNA.

In the  pacific Northwest, as is happening across this country, communities are losing local control of their community hospitals.  As hospital systems become larger and larger, they gobble up smaller community hospitals and local control is lost.

This is the very battle we are fighting in New London, in Windham, and at the state capitol, here in Connecticut.

As hospital systems get larger, insurance companies follow suit, in an effort to maintain bargaining power in negotiations over prices.  Add to this the continued growth of large pharmaceutical companies and you can see the effects of a lack of competition driving up healthcare costs.

That leads to excessive profits that are distributed as excessive salary compensation at the top, while the bedside caregiver is squeezed by having to see more and more patients in less and less time, with less and less staff.  

This causes an ethical dilemma for the caregivers, who entered their profession to make a difference, but find themselves having to choose between doing the minimum for each patient or not being able to help some patients at all.

That's why caregivers, form service and maintenance workers to doctors, are organizing.
They realize that if they do not stand up to the large health care systems, the mega insurance companies, and Big Pharma; no one else will be able to.
And they realize that to stand up,
They must stand together.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Guardian Angels of the Labor Movement

have spent,the past 7 days working 16 hour days and coming to know and bond with a wonderful group of people, professional organizers from around the country and worker organizers at PeaceHealth SW in Vancouver, Washington.
The healthcare workers (service and maintenance) are fighting for a voice by joining the AFT RNs and Techs in the AFT Union.

Sometimes in organizing it can feel like your running uphill in sand.
Your work real hard to climb the hill but with every step to take upward, you also slide a little backwards.
You set up meetings and the worker has a child get sick and they have to hurry home.
You have a nice conversation, and then the boss comes along and puts lies and fear into the worker.
Yet you push onward.

Then, when you least expect it you make contact with a worker and they tell you that their entire department has been meeting together and they are all solid in their commitment to join together into the AFT family.

And that's why you do it.

That's why you travel so far, that's why you live in hotel rooms, that's why you work such long days.

These healthcare workers do good work.  They clean hospitals, they prepare food, they assist nurses and techs. 
They deserve respect and they deserve a voice.

Organizers help them find that voice.

If healthcare workers are "angels,"
Then organizers are their "guardian angels."

It was an honor to work side by side with them this week.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

You get what your willing to fight for

What a week!

I'm still in a bit of shock over the outcome of the election. I think many are.
I've listened to the experts and I've heard that the republicans voted in the same numbers as 4 years ago but democrats did not.
I've heard some say for months that they were disappointed that out of the whole country, these were the two best candidates that the parties could come up with.
I buy the reasoning.
I don't buy the excuse.

Once agin, half the eligible voters of this country didn't vote.

Don't blame "the party," don't blame the "establishment."
If you didn't vote.....blame yourself.

I'm working an organizing drive of healthcare workers this week.
It's hard for workers to find the courage to stand up for their rights.
It's hard for them to find the time and energy to do it.
But guess what.
We have a saying in the labor movement.
"You get what you are willing to fight for."

The same is true about politics.

I made a new friend this year. Her name is Angie and she is an AFT teacher in Connecticut.
She has never been involved in politics or the labor movement before now.
Bernie energized her and she became an activist and worked hard for him.
She has a delegate at the national convention for him, I was a delegate for Hillary.
I encouraged her to stay active, to continue that passion.
She joined our state union political action committee. 
I emailed her after the election to see how she was doing and if she intended to remain involved.
She responded, "Don't worry about me. I'm ready to,spring into action....again. Hope you are too."

I needed that.
That's what we all need.
That's what the workers of this hospital need.
We must be willing to take responsibility for the way things are and to work to make them better.
If not, we need to be willing to be ruled by the elite and privileged. 
It's hard work, so role up your sleeves and let's get started.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The day after

What does a progressive, who campaigned for and even had the privilege of being a delegate for the candidate who lost the election, do the day after?

Hillary said in her gracious speech, "Never stop believing that fighting for what is right is worth it."

We get to work.

The healthcare workers of PeaceHealth Southwest, in Vancouver, Washington will vote on becoming a union in 12 days.
It's good to be able to play a small role in the process.
The nurses of this hospital are a AFT affiliate Union, part of the Washington Nurses Association. The techs recently unionized with AFT and are negotiating their first contract, and now the healthcare workers are working for their voice.

We have a great team of organizers and a great organizing committee of workers working on this campaign and I'm having the opportunity to speak with workers in the office and in the hospital. 
I hope what I bring to the conversation is the experience of having worked at the bedside and gone through my own organizing and first contract campaign.

It's rewarding work, fighting for healthcare workers to gain a voice. 
The changes in health care are coming fast and furious, whether we're talking east coast or west. Often, it is the workers who are left behind. Unless they have a voice.

But you know what?
The workers are as concerned about the effects of the changes to their patients as they are the effects on themselves.
That's just the way healthcare workers are.

On this day after...
I still believe.
The fight is always worth it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Paying it forward

Soon I will be boarding a plane, headed for Vancouver, Washington. 

There are a group of healthcare workers out there trying to claim their voice by organizing as an AFT local. 

My goal is to help out if I can, by sharing my experience. 

It wasn't all that long ago that we at Backus Hospital were in the same spot. 

We had lost our ability to advocate for our patients, our families and ourselves, because of changes at the hospital. 

But we stood up and stood together and AFT Local 5149, Backus Federation of Nurses, was formed. 

It wasn't easy, but we had help from other AFT locals, from Connecticut and beyond. 

That is why I'm going to Vancouver. 

It's time to pay it forward. 

I want to thank AFT for this opportunity, Jan for understanding the importance and asking me to go, and Michelle for her continued understanding. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Wednesday Morning

It will be over soon 

This campaign has been tiring. 

All the negative campaigning has led people to believe that all politicians are crooked and only out for themselves. 

The truth is, many are hard working, honest public servants, doing what they feel is the best for others. 

There are some who only care about themselves or those like them, and because they cannot campaign on their strengths, they try to pull their opponent down, hoping that this levels the playing field and voters think everyone is crooked so what's the use.

Why vote?

Don't buy it. 

Don't be deceived. 

There are good candidates. 

Seek them out and support them. 

One of them will be leader of the free world in January.

Others will represent us in congress and the statehouses. 

We can agree to disagree about the appropriate role of government. 

That's why we have 2 major parties. 

But we must not let party loyalty blind us into voting for someone who will work against our interests, someone who would be harmful for our state or country. 

There are two candidates with a chance to be president. 

One is qualified and one is not. 

One insults women, blacks, Muslims, Latinos, the disabled and others.  He thinks more countries having nuclear weapons would be a good thing. He thinks not paying taxes for years makes him smart. He thinks cheating small business owners and their workers by declaring bankruptcy is being a good businessman. 

I disagree. 

Hillary Clinton has served as First Lady, U S Senator, and Secretary of State. She has worked for the welfare of working class Americans her whole life. 

She has what it takes to be President of the United States, Commander in Chief, leader of the free world. 

It will be all over Tuesday night.

This isn't reality TV, it's real life.

What kind of state and country do we want to wake up to on Wednesday morning?

Friday, November 4, 2016

Voting for a voice

I want to thank Dennis O'Brian for inviting me onto his radio show today.
It gave me the opportunity to correct some inactuate campaign mailings and phone calls about some wonderful state legislators.
It seems that all the negative campaigning and lies coming from the Trump camp have made it acceptable to do the same on the state level.
The truth of the matter is that Windham Connecticut and the surrounding area is blessed to be represented by 5 legislators who stand up for working class people every day, and any campaign claims that they do not are just a smokescreen to divert us from the incredible lack of integrity and knowledge of their opponents.

I proudly join AFT Connecticut to endorse Mea Flexer, Cathy Osten, Susan Johnson, Linda Orange, and Greg Haddard and strongly encourage our members and others to support them with your vote this Tuesday. 

I will join my fellow AFT officers today and tomorrow to go door to door to encourage union members to support all of organized labor's endorsed candidates on Tuesday. Many AFT Connecticut members have contributed untold hours of their own time working for pro-worker candidates and against those who would take from the poor and working class and give to the rich.
I'm proud to be a small part of the effort.

After I vote Tuesday morning, I will drive to the airport and travel to Vancouver, Washington, where a group of hospital workers have found the courage to stand up and stand together, to advocate for their patients, their families, and themselves, and form a union.
I will trade going door to door in Connecticut for the election to going door to door in Washington for another election, an election of the greatest importance, an election of workers to gain a voice in the workplace.
It wasn't too, too long ago, that I was doing this at my own hospital.

I thank Jan for sending me, for the opportunity to help, as others have helped me.
She would have preferred to go herself but such are the many responsibilities of the president that sometimes she must send her VP.
She would have preferred to go herself for the same reason she has spent so much time knocking doors in this election.  She understands the consequences of action (or inaction.)

Tuesday, you face that same truth.
Get out and vote.
It's how we get our place at the table and you know what they say, " If we're not at the table, we're on the menue."

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Recovery after a fall

It seemed like a good idea at the time.
(Nothing good ever follows that statement.)

The stool seemed stable as it stepped up onto it. It was only 18 inches tall, maybe 2 feet.
I was only trying to reach for one thing. 
What could go wrong?

The muscles in the back of my neck cried out in pain from the overextension caused by the recoil of my head after my forehead hit the hard cement floor of my basement. Warm blood started dripping onto that cold, hard cement below my eyes. 
My first thought was; I'm going to pass out here and my wife will find me who knows when. 
I screamed her name as load as I could over and over and over again.

I did not pass out, and she arrived at my side quickly. 
I suffered a bruise to the forehead, a sprained wrist, some other minor bruises and scrapes.
I was lucky. 

I should have listened to my medical team earlier that morning. 
I had anesthesia for a routine diagnostic test. 
 "Your reactions and judgment will be impaired the rest of the day, so don't do any yard work or the like." 
I should have listened. 
I guess the same thick head that saved me in the fall played a role in causing it. 

We are fall, don't we?
Sometime literally, as I did, and sometimes figuratively.  
Sometimes we avoid injury, often we do not. 
Sometimes we need to fall to learn.
Learn to listen to the advice of caregivers, learn we need help.
I called my wife's name because I was scared and I knew I needed help.

When we fall we need to realize and admit, in that moment, that we need help. 
Admitting we cannot do it alone is the first step, the hardest step, and the step that makes real recovery possible.
That's why I yelled out. 
That's why recovery groups work.
That's why unions exist.

We can't do this alone. We aren't designed that way. 
Yes, we have do to do our part, but we are stronger together than alone. 
An individual twig is easily broken in two, but several twigs held together, are difficult to snap.

That is the power we create when we come together.
That is how we recover after a fall.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

"Just a job"

My brother sent me an email with a link to an interesting blog.

To summarize, this ER physician, speaking at a conference of nurses and doctors about burnout, said "It's just a job."
I think his purpose in this statement was to say that if you get so consumed by your work, burnout is the likely result.
He was met with more than a little hostility.

You see, truth be told, those of us "in the field" feel a bit special.
We often look at our "profession' as more than a job, as a "vocation."
I have written about this often.
I feel it too.

The truth is that I also feel the same passion about my work as a unionist.
I feel fighting for "the little guy," "the working class." has dignity and brings more fulfillment than "just a job.".
As I have come to know union members in education and public service, I have come to believe that they also feel that their "work" is also their "vocation," and I can see and totally agree that it is.

I'll be honest, I have had jobs earlier in my life that have felt like "just jobs."
Nothing wrong with that, they provided for my family.
When I found nursing though, I felt fulfilled, and I continue with that fulfilled feeling in my union work.

But looking back, I have always felt a certain sense of pride in any job well done, whether I was working in a textile mill, a lumberyard, or elsewhere.
When I built airplanes, I knew my knowledge, my skill, and my caring, literally made a difference in people's safety.
And certainly, the person picking vegetables in the hot sun is providing just as valuable service to society as the nurse and doctor.

On the other hand. I have known people in nursing and unionism who "mailed it in."

Perhaps all "jobs" can be "vocations."
Perhaps., as the old saying goes.....
All work has dignity.

Perhaps, it is how we approach our work that matters.
Maybe that's what defines if "it's just a job."

And perhaps, those of us who feel "special" because of what we do, should get over it and realize that it is both a "vocation" and "just a job" at the same time.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

An amazing journey

What an amazing journey!

I'm stuck in Ireland due to an unexpectedly delayed flight causing a missed connection.
How is that amazing?
The same way that bad weather prevented us from visiting Monte Carlo a few days ago. 

Missing Monte Carlo meant we spent another day in Italy and allowed us to have perhaps the best day of the cruise, touring the hills, medeavil villages, and farms of Tuscany.  

Being delayed in Ireland meant Guinness in an Irish pub and the chance to walk on Irish sod, to bend down and feels it's thick, green grass between my fingers.

Perhaps that means nothing to you. 
Perhaps if you're Irish-American it does.

Traveling, like life, can be an amazing journey.  
Those who know me best know that like everyone, I face real challages at times, challages that can get me down.
But they also know that I can sometimes make mountains out of molehills, and in so doing, can miss out on opportunities.

This week, because I was able to make the best of situations, I enjoyed lunch at a Tuscany farm, Guiness at an Irish pub, and the the feel of the sod of my ancestors beneath my feet.

And when I can do that, it makes for an amazing journey.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Reality check

I know I don't delve often into education issues, put I feel the need to make an exception.
I don't claim to be an expert by any means.  I have not stood at the front of a classroom and faced what educators do every day. The closest I have been is standing at the end of a stretcher and teaching my patients and families on whatever illness they were facing. 
It's not the same, and I don't claim it to be. 

However, I have come to know teachers and PSRPs in the past year and I can see the dedication they have for their students is so, so similar to the dedication of any nurse or other healthcare worker to our patients.
Perhaps, my perspective as a non-educator is of some interest.

I'd like to speak on two issues.
The first being the resent Connecticut court CCJFF decision.
I agree with the court on the fact that Connecticut's funding of schools is unequal.
Affluent communities are much better able to fund their schools than struggling communities.
We are too dependent on local property taxes and this needs to be addressed.
Connecticut's students deserve high quality, well funded school whether they grow up in Greenich or Hartford.
However, the court's contention that schools are unequal because the evaluation system does not hold teachers accountable is not only an overreach of it's duty in the case, it is both inaccurate and insulting.
The reason schools are unequal is multi factored, including many socio-economic factors and the reliance on local taxes, not poor teachers, as the court implies.
Yes, changes could be made to some evaluation systems, and when educators are involved in the development and implementation of such systems, they embrace them.

The second issue I would like to speak to, is the recent announcement by the State Department of Education, on the possible need to close some of the state Vo-Tech high schools due to spending cuts proposed by the governor's administration.
I spent the early part of my working live bouncing from job to job with many periods of being laid off due to economic downturns and factory closings.
During one such period, the state sent me to CNA training at Windham Tech.
Although the factory layoffs continued, I was always able to find work as a CNA and never again collected unemployment.
Eventually, I returned to school, at Three Rivers Community-Technical College, and began a 16 year career as an emergency room RN.
None of that would have been possible without our state vocational school system, including high schools and colleges.
I know of many others who have stories like mine.
Closing any of these schools would be counter productive.
While it would save a little money in the short term, the long term result would be more unemployment and less tax revenue. 
But the biggest loss, would be the nurses, the skiled tradespeople, the teachers, and the others, who would never find their training, never learn their crafts, and never share their gifts.

In my humble perspective as someone who has not stood at the front of a classroom, I believe in this "new economic reality," we need a reality check.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Cruise day three

Let me get this straight.
Croatia was once part of Yugoslavia, which was part of the Soviet Block, which was the "evil empire," correct?

Except Split, Croatia was lovely, with lovely people.
Our city tour guide explained the history and architecture, complete with occupation by the Greeks, the Venetians, and Romans, as well as the effects of World War. II, and the Bosnia-Serbia War, as only someone who had grown up in the region could.
The shop keeper where we stopped for souvenirs helped us pick out a local wine, asking that we return to give her our impression. When we said we were on the cruise ship and were leaving at days end, she wished us a wonderful journey and asked a pledge that we would return.

"Evil Empire" I think not. Ordinary sisters and brothers interested in the same things we are, I think yes.

Tomorrow, Dubrovnik.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Cruise day two

Having gelato in Venice is pretty cool!

Let's face it, just being in Venice is pretty cool. 

We took a walking tour of Venice on day 2, including St Mark's Square. Our guide was a native, and as such, had lots of local insights to share. 

One thing she pointed out was an area of water in the square. Without her explanation, I would have taken it to be rainwater but she explained it was seawater seeping up from below at high tide. This is becoming a more frequent problem over the last few years she stated. 

As we were walking back to catch the shuttle boat that would take us back to our ship, we ducked into a small shop and found our gelato!

Now we say goodbye Italy for a few days. On to Croatia. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Cruise day one

It's a strange feeling waking up in Italy on Wednesday morning and knowing that the last time I woke up from a bed it was Monday morning in Connecticut.

It was one long day with several "plane naps" and many miles.

We left from Hartford just after 6:00 pm Monday and arrived in Venice about 11:00 am Tuesday, losing 6 hours with the time zone change.

One of Michelle's big wishes was to take an evening Gondola ride in Venice but the excusion sold out before we could sign up so when we arrived we put our name on the waiting list.
Our chances didn't look good, even several hours later so we took someone's advice and tried to strike out on our own.
To say I was nervous about venturing into a country where neither of us speaks the language and have no clue as to the geography of the city would be an understatement.
Anyway, we were no more than 10 minutes from the ship and Michelle could see I was a few steps from panic mode and suggested we abort the mission.
I felt like I had let her down.

When we got back to the room, 2 tickets were waiting for us, and soon we were with a group and headed for the gondola, stress free.

What a wonderful night it turned out to be.

A ride slipping through the canals of Venice with a group of 4 or 5 gondolas being serenaded all the way!
We returned to ship tired and happy, but too late for dinner but no worries....
They delivered steak to our room!


Monday, October 3, 2016

Bon Voyage

Michelle and I have been saving up for a Mediterranean cruse to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary for several years.
Tonight we leave for Italy. 

We delayed the trip for one year after I was elected to my current post of state federation VP, so I guess it's a 41st anniversary cruise.
In that year I took only 3 days vacation.
I would never advise my friends to do that.
We each have an obligation to tend to the needs of our sisters and brothers but we also deserve to enjoy the fruits of our labor.
It is part of taking care of ourselves.

There are many things going on that deserve my attention at work.
The outcomes of the elections will effect us for years, our state workers and some of our educators are still without contracts, we have major battles in healthcare, and our state legislative session will be soon upon us.
So, there is much to do.

But I genuinely believe that We have  a team of officers and staff that is somewhat like the Patriots.
When one player is missing, several others are there to fill in.
I also believe our members are more involved than ever, which is the ultimate goal.

So Michelle and I are off to see Europe for the first time.
Bon Voyage! 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Standing with the community

I've been spending a lot of time in Windham, Connecticut lately.
Our teachers and paraprofessionals and school support staff have been fighting for adequate funding to keep their schools open and prevent students from having to travel out of town for education.
Our nurses and other healthcare workers have been fighting to keep their community hospital open and prevent patients and their families from having to travel 45 minutes each way to Hartford for care when they are sick.

I have been hearing how their is a "new economic reality." That times are tough. That we have to tighten our belts.


There's nothing new about this cry for the need for austerity. 
We've heard it all before. 
There is one problem and it's as old as time.
Them that has....don't want to share.

Donald Trump said it Monday night.
When pointed out that he won't release his tax returns and in his last public tax return he didn't pay any taxes, he said.......
"That makes me smart."

That doesn't make you smart, that makes schools and hospitals close.

We have an ethical responsibility to all share our good fortunes and many of the rich do not.
They take the benifits that our society offer and use every loophole to avoid contributing to the common good.

The result is that teachers, paraprofessionals, school support staff, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who would rather spend their time in the classroom and at the bedside are obligated to take to the streets and fight for their communities.

That's why I've been spending my time in Windham.
I'm standing with these dedicated educational and healthcare workers as they stand with the community.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Why Clinton

The big debate is tonight.
I suppose it's going to be "Hugh."

For what it's worth, it's no surprise who I'm supporting.
I "feel the bern" and I thank him for his advocacy on behalf of working families.
In the end, I voted for Hillary in the primary and I was a delegate for her at the DNC, not because I don't love Bernie, not because he isn't qualified to be president, but simply because Hillary Clinton is, in my opinion, perhaps the most qualified person of my lifetime to run for the office of president of the United States.
She has served as First Lady, U S Senator, and Secretary of State. She has worked on behalf of working families her entire life.
Never in history has any one person been so scutinized for so many years but it has not dissuaded her. 

Her opponent has accused her of many things, all without evidence. 
At the same time, refuses to release his tax returns as every presidential candidate in recent history has, he states his qualifications as a great businessman but he has repeatedly declared bankruptcy and in doing has cheated small business owners and workers the income they had worked for, he has insulted and ridiculed the disabled, women, Mexicans, Muslims and others, he claims he and he alone can make America great agiain yet his clothing line is manufactured overseas, and his policy plans lack depth except when it coms to immigration where he states he will build a Hugh Wall and get Mexico to pay for it.

And some want him to have the nuclear launch codes?????????

In the end, people vote with their hearts. 
I hope they see The Donald as he truly is, interested in The Donald and The Donald only. 
But more than that, I hope they see Hillary as she truly is, interested in all the people of this country and qualified to serve. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fighting the Good Fight

I received an email from a friend, a physician.
I will paraphrase to protect privacy.

"I just came from a sympathy call to a friend whose 96-year-old mother died this week in Willimantic. Her mother was twice transferred by helicopter to Hartford Hospital because no intensive care was available at Windham Hospital. 

I was chatting with a physician friend who was also paying a sympathy call tonight and he told me that Hartford Health Care just closed down the practice of Dr. X, a surgeon who has been practicing in our area for decades. He said it came as a shock to everyone, especially Dr. X!"

Last year, Hartford Healthcare closed the CCU in Windham Hospital, sighting low volume. That low volume was caused by Hartford's practice of transferring cases to Hartford.

Hartford Healthcare also owns Dr. X's practice.

A recent article in Modern Healthcare points out that the promises of improved quality outcomes from hospital owned physician practices because "it can encourage “coordination efforts” and continuum of care services" has not materialized.

The closing of services at community hospitals and the closing of local physician practices by large healthcare corporations are symptoms of the ills of our healthcare system, just as the movement of public school money to private charter schools and the cuts in vital services to state residents as a result of state austerity budgets are symptoms of the ills in education and public services. 

In all cases, greed is the motivation.
Greed of the leadership of healthcare corporations, private charter school corporations, and the 1%.

It is easy to become discouraged and feel we have no recourse to reverse these trends.
Please don't let that happen.
Become involved in your union, your community group, your local politics.

We won't win every battle.
We may sometimes have to compromise.

But if we don't fight back we will surely lose.

There is an old saying, "If you're not at the table, you're on the menu." 

Sunday, September 18, 2016


At the Democratic National Convention, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh started his speech with this line, "Good evening. my name is Marty Walsh, and I'm an alcoholic."
I know nothing of Mayor Wlash, but he seems like a man who has taken his own inventory. 

I am a co-dependent. 
know this is a vague term which means different things to different people.
To me it means that I have trouble discerning boundaries between myself and those I care about.
It leads me to try to "save" people, and in the process, I prevent some from learning to care for themselves; and I push others away by smothering them. 
I sometimes tell people I probably ended up in nursing to fulfill my need to care for others.  I tell them I became a "professional co-dependent."

Like Mayor Walsh, I belong to a 12 step group.  
Unlike the Mayor, I took a several year "sabbatical" from it when I became "too busy."

There is a saying, "Anything you place before your recovery, you will lose."
I've known for a while that something wasn't right, that something was "off."
I could feel it.

Since the DNC I have returned to my program.
Maybe, my higher power put the Mayor and I in Philadelphia at the same time so that I could hear his message, his courage, his recovery.

Today I am trying to take my own inventory. 
I am trying to respect the individuality of others. 
And it feels right. 

I'm John, and I'm a co-dependent. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Mother Teresa

"Every decision is an ethical decision," so says my good friend Eric. 

Last week, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was officially recognized as a saint. 
She spent her life caring for the poorest of the poor. 
She practiced what Jesus spoke about in his sermon on the mount.....
Feed the poor
Care for the sick
Comfort those in need. 

She showed us how to live. 

On Thursday I attended a DUE Justice Event at which Rev William Barber spoke. He said America has a "heart problem."
America's heart is in the wrong place. 
Instead of love for our sister and brother, there is hatred for anyone different from ourselves. 
Instead of sharing our extra coat with our neighbor, it's I've got mine and too bad for you. 

America's moral compass is off. 

What Rev Barber so eloquently preaches, Mother Teresa lived. 
What Eric knows, Mother Teresa knew. 

America can fix its heart problem, but it will take us living in love as Mother Teresa did. 

But how can we, with our imperfections, be expected to live such a moral life, making loving ethical decisions?

How can we find love in our hearts when the world is filled with the kind of hatred that led to September 11?

Here may be Mother Terrsa's greatest gift to us. 
From studying her personal letters, we know that Mother Teresa, the woman who felt called by Jesus to serve the poorest of the poor, struggled with her spirituality at times. 
But her struggles did not change her decisions, did not change her life's work. 

Mother Teresa was not perfect, she experienced doubts as we all do. But she lived her life in loving service. 

May we all strive to make ethical decisions, all strive to live moral lives, all reach out in love to our sisters and brothers, and if we do so, America's heart problem will be cured. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

What Labor Day means to me

I joined the labor movement in 2010, when I became involved in an organizing campaign at my hospital.  We were seeking one thing, the chance to have a voice in advocating for our patients. This is something we were  taught in nursing school, that advocating for our patients was the single most important role of a nurse, that when we saw something wrong, from a doctor, an administrator, or from anyone else, that as hard as it was to stand up and advocate for our patients, that was what we must do.
I'll be honest, there was a time early in my nursing career and the careers of my colleagues, where we felt we could do so.
But times change.
It had gotten to the point where speaking up and advocating had become dangerous. Increasingly, advocating for our patients would bring retaliation.
Faced with this difficulty in doing what were had been taught we must, we stood together in solidarity and strength and regained our voice.
So I became part of the Labor Movement, but I soon realized that The Movement had been a part of me my whole life and the life of my family.

I had grown up with and been taught the principles of the movement without knowing it.
My family were not members of a union, but we were taught that we held a responsibility for our neighbor's well being. We were taught that everyone, regardless of sex, color, race, or religion, was our neighbor.
We were taught as John the Baptist cried out in the desert, "That the man who has two coats should give one to he who has none."
These principles are in stark contrast to the "I'll get mine, screw you" mentality of the greed that is often practiced by those with the financial power.

These principles of caring for neighbor were a part of my family and thankfully, are a part of most of us.
It is like in the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus never directly answers the question, he lets the man asking the question answer it himself, because the man already knows the answer:

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30Jesus took up this question and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.
31Now by chance a priest was going down the same road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32So too, when a Levite came to that spot and saw him, he passed by on the other side.
33But when a Samaritan on a journey came upon him, he looked at him and had compassion. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35The next day he took out two denariie and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Take care of him,’ he said, ‘and on my return I will repay you for any additional expense.’
36Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37“The one who showed him mercy,” replied the expert in the law.
Then Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

I grew up with the principles of the Labor Movement, many of us do.
The principles are love of neighbor, of solidarity, of speaking out for those who have no voice.

Labor Day to me is a celebration of those principles that are ingrained in most of us growing up. 
It is a celebration to the men and women who had, and continue to have, the courage to advocate for their neighbors against the powerful who are motivated by greed.
It is a celebration of all hardworking men and women across our shrinking planet.
It is a celebration of love and solidarity.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Thank you healthcare colleagues

I want to give a big thank you to my colleagues at the Backus Plainfield Emergency Room for the wonderful care you gave my son today.  He's fine, nothing serious. 

Can I still call you colleagues? 
It's been a year since I've stood at the side of an ermergency room stretcher, a year since I've started an IV, titrated a med, held a hand.
I haven't forgotten. 
I may not think of it every day, but on occasion, I remember.

I remember the fear on losing a patient before I could stabilize them and get them to the CCU.
I remember being with the MD when he delivered the news, and then after a minute or so, left me with the family, because he or she had others who needed attention. I remember asking, "Can I get you anything? A phone? Water?"  I remember these families being so grateful for my caring and feeling.....but we failed you, your loved one is gone.
I remember the hugs given and received from colleagues after a rough case.
I remember the dark humor that we used to cope. 
I remember.

I was with your sisters and brothers in Windham tonight.
On the way, a thought came to me.
I remembered my wife asking me how my day at the hospital had gone and my responding, "It was good day, no one died," and meaning it.
At one point tonight our chief of staff commented on something he and I had talked about at lunch. Someone commented, "You got lunch?"
I remember.

I hope I can still call you "colleagues" my friends. I know I am not in the trenches with you anymore and I realize the honor it is to be in the position I now am. I still carry with pride my years of service at your side.  We shared things that only those who have experienced can understand.  I still self identify as a nurse and always will, and RN is on my business cards.

So thank you for today and for all the years that have led up to it. I am who I am because of you.

Saturday, August 27, 2016


We started a one page office newsletter this week at work.
Nothing fancy, picture of the twins born this week to one of our organizers, updates on negotiations, school budget fights, etc.
A note that someone is looking for a mini fridge in case someone has one they aren't using.
That kind of stuff.

The reason we started it is because with everyone going in different directions, and yet everyone's work having an impact on everyone else, it's easy to assume that communications is fine and yet.....not always.

I find it a struggle sometimes when deciding who should be at Meeting A or Meeting B.  You want all the principles involved to be there, yet you don't want everyone tied up in every meeting all day long, or you'd end up all talk and no action.
It's a balance, and the best you can hope for is to try to get it right.

In this age of social media, I know more of what my friends and cousins are up to than I ever did, yet if I spend all my time on FB, when do I have time to sit and talk face to face?

Miscommunication is a problem sometimes too.  I have fallen victim of bad texting, have you?
I've sent a text to a friend meaning one thing, and they have read it in a completely different light, because the tone of one's voice and our facial expressions make a world of difference to meaning, and that doesn't always come through in a text or phone call.

As a general rule, I prefer communication in person, if not possible then by phone, and if that's not possible, then by text or email.

Another part of effective communication (and I struggle with this) is the ability to stop talking and to just listen.  Like many, I'm guilty of trying to think of a response while the other person is still speaking.

Written communication, is of particular interest to me.  The ability to convey the information I want is a part of it. That's the science.
The challenge is to convey emotion. That's the art.
Good writers and painters can to that.
I great piece of writing, artwork, photograph, play or movie can bring tears to our eyes.

We are social beings. Communication in all it's forms is a part of who we are, a part of what makes us "us.".

Friday, August 19, 2016

Thank you to those who serve

I spent two evenings this week with some of the most dedicated people you can find, the teachers, paraprofessionals, tutors, and other support staff of the Windham schools. 

On Wednesday they packed the Board of Finance meeting to urge the board not to cut the school budget before it sends it to a referendum. The next night, they were on the streets to speak with residents at the Third Thursday Street Festival to explain the importance of fully funded public schools and of voting in the upcoming referendum.

It has been my pleasure to come to know education members like this over the past year. They have so much in common with the nurses and healthcare workers I had already come to know. The dedication to students is the same as the dedication to patients that I experienced every day in my 21 years of bedside nursing.  
Nurses and teachers, healthcare workers, paraprofessionals, and support staff, share a love of service that is echoed by our public sector workers.

Financial gain is not part of their equation. Instead, love of students, and patients, and community are their motivation. 

It's easy to become discouraged when you're told, as one of our healthcare Locals was this week in negotiations, that management doesn't feel there's a "market for healthcare in this town."
It's easy to become discouraged when a major party candidate promotes hate and bigotry. When he says declaring bankruptcy time and time again and stiffing workers and small business owners of the time and wages he owes them is "good business."

Education, healthcare and the public safety net are not a "business."
They are a service.
They do not exist for the purpose of making the hospital or charter school CEO rich. 

If you find yourself becoming discouraged, spend some time with the dedicated teachers, paraprofessionals and educational support staff in your community, spend some time with the nurses and other healthcare workers, spend some time with the public servants, and you'll understand as I do.

Thank you Windham teachers and PSRPs, for two wonderful evenings and for the great work you do on behalf of your students and community. 

Maybe we should build a wall.
Then we can put,those who take from society on one side and the those who serve on our side.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Looking back, looking ahead

A little over a month ago, I sat with my president and we reviewed the past year, my job performance, my personal strategic plan, and what I hoped to and should work on for the coming months.
It's something that we had wanted to do for a bit and we finally found the time.

Developing a personal strategic plan in itself was very self reflective and helpful to me.
We get caught up in the day to day and need to force ourselves to step back and look at our lives as though we were looking at someone else's life and be objective about it.  That way we are less likely to wake up one day and say, "how did I get here?"
My president is a master at this, with her guidance we have developed with our executive board strategic plans for our organization, we have asked our employees to do the same for themselves, we have asked our divisional councils to do so, and we are beginning to work with our Locals to do the same.
They are fluid, living documents. Statements of where we would like to be in the future with benchmarks of time and units of measure to evaluate our progress. They are meant to be evaluated on a regular schedule and adjusted as needed.

The personal strategic plan I developed and discussed with Jan is a combination of personal and professional evaluations and goals.
I'll not share it but I will share that my overall goal is to be as valuable as possible to the organization.
I have sub goals that I believe will lead me to that objective and then a clear dilatation of my specific areas of responsibility within the organization, with more specific steps that will hopefully allow me to achieve my sub goals and overall goal.
The idea is to use this as a tool to evaluate regularly to see, have I been pulled off course as I deal with day to day responsibilities? Do I need to adjust my plan because the situation on the ground has changed?

So, where am I, one year into this new position?
Let's look at the past month.
I attended the AFT Convention for the first time as the state VP, with 30,000 members in education, healthcare and public service. Previously, I had attended as a president of 370 Registered Nurses who had formed their own union.
Yeah, it's a different role.
While I am adjusting to a role of representing a much larger and more diverse group, I am also adjusting to a transition from being a charter president to a vice president. I think I've done well, but I'm not perfect, and I continue to learn.
The following week I attended the Democratic National Convention as a delegate. Besides being very exciting and interesting to be there and be a part of history, it was an opportunity to spend a lot of time with a lot of influential people. Having the opportunity to have conversations about the hopes and dreams of our diverse membership is a two way street. I want to tell legislators and they want to listen, because, frankly, representing 30,000 active members/state residents is a big responsibility and honor for me but also for the legislators.
Then it was back to the office and this week, and through a series of travel commitments and illness, I found myself the officer seeing to the day to day back here in Connecticut. (Of course, Jan, Jean and Ed were a phone call away, and I used those calls)
I got to chair my first Executive Committee meeting this week.
I won't lie, I was a bit nervous before, but it went well.

So, where am I, one year into this new position?
Still learning.
I hope I can always say that. I think if I ever get to the point where I "know it all," it will be time for me to leave.
I'm comfortable in my new role. I have incredible support form those around me and I hope I am a source of support for them.
I think I'm doing good work.
I keep in my mind the incredible work our members do, in education, in healthcare, and in public service, and that pushes me to do the best I can.
I'm looking back to see, am I on track? Am I making progress? Have I remembered my goals?
Add I'm looking ahead.
I've been given a gift and I understand that, and I want to make the best use of the opportunity to be as valuable to the organization, our members and the movement as I can be.