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.

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