From the Desk of the President (August, 2004)
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to represent you at the AFSCME International Convention in June.
It was an absolutely wonderful experience to learn more about our great union family and how we manage to
accomplish difficult tasks because of, not in spite of, our rich diversity. Delegates brought their passion, their wisdom,
their humor, their hopes and dreams, and their ever present and unending enthusiasm to the table each day as we
listened to speakers, debated resolutions, and met new folks. We heard how folks from all walks of life worked
together to reach goals rich in results - better wages, better working conditions, better benefits, more respect in the
workplace - as they organized to form bargaining units and negotiated their first contracts. A common theme was
the history of organizing in our union - from the first days in Wisconsin when AFSCME was born to the famous
"I Am a Man" strike by the Sanitation workers in Memphis all the way to newly created Locals in California with the
In-Home Child Care Workers. The underlying thread has always been that we, as employees providing services,
perform valuable work and deserve to be treated equitably. It does not make any difference if we are attorneys,
corrections officer, waste management, social workers, nurses assistants, doctors, day care workers when it comes
to the right to have representation and respect . It does hammer home the premise that respect is earned – you don't
just get it because of a title after your name. I met sisters and brothers from all around the country as they helped
o decorate the blank canvas bag we were given with a challenge to decorate it with a theme to reflect the convention.
Each person I met signed their name with their Local, Council and state as they created a permanent record of their
participation. It is a wonderful keepsake of a wonderful experience.
Each of our delegates and alternates will have a personal highlight of the convention. For me, that highlight was
meeting and talking to Mildred Wurf, widow of Jerry Wurf. Being that close to someone who is an integral thread in
the fabric of AFSCME was beyond words for me. We talked about her husband's hopes for the union and how we are
constantly meeting those hopes. I felt as if I had been able to reach out and touch history. It gives me pleasure to
know that we are part of an ever-evolving creature as that truly is sign of growth.
My weekly engagement calendar is one by Mary Engelbreit. She finds such wonderful quotes to put with her artwork
which makes it a pleasure to open the page to a new week. I never know what treat I will be able to savor but I
always know that it will be a treat and that is a fantastic way to begin each new week. The quote for the week of
July 12 - 18, 2004 is "Remember, no matter where you go there you are." It made me stop and think about life and
how busy we get with work that sometimes we don't always take time to just sit and breath. The pressures of our
daily grind sometimes takes on too much importance and we forget that we have family and friends who would like
to see us, hear from, visit with us. Maybe August would be a good month - especially since it is traditionally one of the
most active vacation months - to take some time to just sit and breath. Have a quiet chat with the family, share a cup
of lemon water with your best friend, take a slow walk with the family dog, enjoy the sun and the green of Minnesota.
May be we can come back with a renewed perspective of where work should fit instead of where work actually does
fit in our lives.