More than a slogan, the phrase has over this past year been embraced as a core belief. It was initially launched to fortify our defense of rights and freedoms against the special interests who bankrolled the Janus v. AFSCME lawsuit. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority ruled against working people in June, it has fueled a collective resistance against ongoing attempts to decimate and dismantle our movement.
for more on the “U & I in Union” campaign to build greater strength.
Not only have we seen public sector members defy the right-wing smear tactics and “stick with their unions,” AFT Connecticut-affiliated locals actually grew their ranks in 2018. In many cases it was the result of former fair share fee-payers signing “recommitment” cards and joining as full-fledged, dues-paying members. In others, it followed votes by previously independent groups to unite with our state federation.
for photos last summer of an affiliation vote by education personnel in Farmington Public Schools.
Another way in which we increased our collective strength was though empowering those previously denied collective bargaining rights to join their colleagues in existing locals. Public employees, who began a coordinated push to “organize the unorganized” among state workers more than three years ago, continued to lead the way in 2018.
for our recent report on Judicial Branch employees uniting with their co-workers.
Our organizing wins weren’t confined to the public sector. Service, environmental, maintenance and other vital support staff at Rockville General Hospital (RGH) demanded a voice in their facility’s care and working conditions and won their union election. They, too, were supported by their colleagues in existing locals representing employees of Prospect Medical Holdings, demonstrating that the “U and I in Union” is key to improving all workplaces.
for our report on last fall’s victory by RGH healthcare professionals.
These gains were the product of broader efforts to foster union leadership skills among a growing number of local affiliates’ activists. In 2018 they also included several cohorts of our Member Organizing Institute (MOI) program, which taught tangible skills for pushing back against the reactionary forces behind Janus.
for photos of MOI participants in training and in the field this past fall.
Additionally, our professional development (PD) program attracted a record number of members in 2018 to workshops at our state federation headquarters and local affiliates’ union halls. Course offerings were as diverse as the workers we represent across Connecticut, and helped many earn credit for personal career advancement and continuing education.
for our latest PD program report, which highlighted sessions for PreK-12 teachers and paraprofessionals and school support personnel (PSRPs).
2018 also proved the value of fundamental union rights to make workplace improvements, resolve labor disputes and secure economic advances. Thousands of members benefitted from negotiated grievance settlements, arbitrated decisions and collective bargaining agreements achieved and ratified throughout the year.
for our latest contract wins report, which featured public employee and PSRP union members.
Many of our members contributed to the wave of educator activism that swept the nation in 2018. In Connecticut, much of it was in response to cruel cutbacks at the local level that slashed services and eliminated jobs. Teachers, paraprofessionals and support personnel in communities across the state turned out for meetings of school and municipal officials to demand better than more failed austerity policies.
to watch union members in Ansonia rally their community last fall to protect student learning.
2018 marked a turning point for our retirees, too, as their dedication, service and continued activism was officially recognized with the establishment of a full-fledged division within AFT Connecticut. Our newest chartered affiliate was formed to represent members whose local at their time of retirement did not have a retiree organization.
for photos of retiree members engaging with lawmakers at the state capitol last spring.
Demonstrating that “we care, we fight, we show up and we vote,” our members’ activism was decisive in last year’s Primary and General Elections. The final results in November tipped the balance away from the corporate lobbyists who’ve held sway in Hartford for the past four years and in the direction of working people.
for our report on 2018 electoral gains highlighting member activists’ role in the outcome.
Undoubtably, 2019 will bring us challenges, but I am confident we will overcome them because we will do so together — just like we did in 2018.
On behalf of AFT Connecticut’s officers, executive committee and delegate assembly, I thank our members for all they do each and every day for our students, patients and our communities. I so appreciate all 30,000 working people who make this a great state to live, raise our families and be part of a vibrant labor movement.
With wishes for a happy New Year,
President, AFT Connecticut