Attending the various functions that my members give me the privilege of attending, I get opportunity to hear a lot of feedback from WFSE members and members of the public who just don't think that their union, or unions in general are a good thing. I get to hear a lot of stereotypes about "union thugs" etc. that I know to be just that. I have given up on trying to argue with folks. I used to feel obligated to tell my experience with the union has not fit the stereotypical image they portray people like me as. Any more...not so much. For every balance there must be a check. The Buddhist in me reminds me to be thankful for their point of view because it adds perspective to understanding. It's easy to lose the forest through the trees.
That said, I want to take a moment to celebrate and be thankful for our union brothers and sisters who gave all they had to give 7 years ago today. Many of the first responders in the world trade center were our of own AFSCME family. Many others were members of other unions and all were brothers and sisters of our nation and culture.
Those folks who ran up the stairs when everyone else was running down didn't do it for the money or the glory, or under duress that could come with not doing their duty. They did it because that is what they do. Just like the CPS worker who endures being screamed at, or the CCO who gets an offender into treatment instead of locking him up but gets spit on for his or her efforts or the Mental Hospital worker who returns to work after being assaulted or the office assistant who patiently listens to a upset consumer of state services or the shop steward who gets yelled at by an angry member, but who tries to help them with their problem any way. That is what those rare folks who commit themselves to public service do.
You folks know you aren't going to get rich, and sometimes you get kind of jaded and salty, maybe sometimes even (dare I say it?)cranky. Don't think that I don't notice that twinkle you still get in your eye when you realize that 95 out of 100 people could or would not do what you just accomplished for the citizens of the state or your membership.
There are a lot of people out there that just spit when you mention state employees, or the union that represents them. Blessings to them, they can do that.
For you who continue to serve the public and you who protect and represent those who do the republic's work, my hat is off to you and I thank you for the opportunity to work for you.
For those who give their all for the rest of us, rest assured that here in the land of the union we remember and honor you and your families.
With reverence and respect,