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Fighting Forward in 2018

AFT Connecticut executive committee and delegate assembly members at their quarterly meeting in September (above) gathered to prepare for a year of anticipated challenges facing us as a labor movement. There, union leaders met, deliberated and mapped out a path forward in order to act decisively and effectively on behalf of our members, families and communities.
In a post at his personal blog, AFT Connecticut Executive Vice President John Brady, RN shared his thoughts on these early steps in the process. “You cannot get to where you want to be if you do not know where you are going,” observed Brady, who previously served as our affiliated Backus Federation of Nurses union president.
Click here for Brady’s report-back from the September joint leadership meeting.
Work then continued on refining a document produced by a process begun by the more than 50 members, local leaders and state federation staff who launched the effort. The goal was to develop a roadmap for how, as an organization, AFT Connecticut and its affiliated unions can reach our members, address their needs and build greater strength. 
“It’s not hyperbole to say that our labor movement is at a crossroads,” said AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel. “To survive and thrive as as an organization, we must have a vision of where we are going. We must also have benchmarks to concretely measure how we get there. Perhaps most important, union leaders need tools to help them move forward,” added Hochadel, who previously served as the president of our affiliated State Vocational Federation of Teachers.
Hochadel’s comments refer to escalating challenges facing union members at the local, state and federal levels from corporations, politicians and powerful special interests. Chief among them is a copycat lawsuit, Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Council 31, before the U.S. Supreme Court. 
The case, pushed by the same corporate-funded lobbyists behind a nearly identical suit considered two years ago by the high court, threatens to weaken public sector labor unions nationwide. The plaintiffs are once again attempting to circumvent state and local laws and use the federal bench to deny labor organizations the resources needed to effectively represent their members.
While the justices in 2016 deadlocked in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA), allowing a nearly four decades-old precedent to remain the law of the land, that was then.
Click here for our previous update on the court’s tied decision in the Friedrichs lawsuit.
Justice Neil Gorsuch was in early 2017 appointed to the nation’s highest court by a new president who has displayed an open anti-union animus since taking office. A decision in Janus is expected this spring — and this time a 4-4 split is highly unlikely.
Click here for recent analysis of the Janus lawsuit and its implications.
“As leaders, we need to connect to more of our members — not just our activists or those who file grievances,” said Newtown Federation of Teachers President Tom Kuroski. “Ultimately, this plan will help them recognize that their union has their back — which will better prepare us to protect our rights going forward. That’s why it’s also a blueprint for building a stronger organization to face an uncertain future,” added Kuroski, who also serves on our state federation’s executive committee.
Executive committee and delegate assembly members last month at their most recent quarterly meeting voted to formally adopt the “Strategic Plan” for 2018 and took steps to begin implementation. An early exercise was to develop worksheets for key sections of the blueprint to provide local leaders in order to help them identify goals and benchmarks.
Membership and community engagement, political advocacy, communications, professional development, research and external organizing are each identified with specific objectives and action steps applicable to both our state and local organizations. Each follows a common thread and contributes to building more active and engaged unions and increasing our collective power on public policy issues important to all working people in Connecticut.
“The plan will help us as union leaders think beyond our immediate responsibilities,” said L+M Federation of Technologists President Stephanie Johnson, RPSGT. “We — understandably — get caught up juggling the demands on us to help solve problems for our members. This plan is about empowering them to recognize the ‘U’ and ‘I’ in ‘union.’ It’s a set of tools to engage them to see their role in the bigger picture,” added Johnson, who was recently elected to serve on the executive committee.
Click here to request the current draft of the 2018 strategic plan and the associated worksheets (for affiliated union leaders only).

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