We may not be having regular meetings in July and August, but we sure aren't just hanging out at the beach! We are asking for members who are ready to take on a challenge...
Join us in July to set up committees to put YOUR IDEAS from our first 6 months into action! We will be tackling 3 projects (depending on interest)...
1. Creating mentorship programs in your local or work community
2. Creating a Young Worker Community Outreach program
3. Creating an Apprentice Student Council
August 17th at 6pm
IUPAT District 51
4700 Boston Way Lanham, MD 20706.
If you don't have wheels, don't let that stop you from participating! Let us know and we will figure out a metro pick-up!
We want to say thank you to all those who participated in July with us. We will be following up on everyone's progress as well as continuing to brainstorm on how we can contribute to and transform the labor movement!
Wow! is the first thing that comes to mind when reflecting on this month’s meeting. DC Young Trade Unionists were graced with a distinguished panel of progressive union leaders who were able to talk first hand about the attack on public employees. If any of those in attendance were unsure of the connection between public employees and private labor union workers the panel certainly connected all the dots and their message was very clear. An Attack on ONE Worker is an Attack on ALL Workers! Thank you to The National Labor College who opened their doors to the DC YTU and took the time to share information about the certificate programs they offer as well as their bachelor and master degree programs.
Panelists from left to right:
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1994 - Carlos Mellot, Field Representative/Organizer (not shown)
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1994 – Joshua Ardison, Field Representative/Organizer
International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 1664 & Professional Fire Fighters of Maryland – Jeff Buddle, Vice President
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 500 – Merle Cuttitta, President
American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 2978 – Robert Mayfield, President
Washington Teachers Union (WTU) – Nathan Saunders, President
The evening began with the concerns and questions of the young workers. Some of the questions included, when was the political shift in mentality towards workers first noticed and why did it begin, what are some of the strategies in place to save the jobs and benefits of workers, and how specifically can we as young workers get involved and help. The panelists focused on young workers’ concerns as they gave a brief commentary on their present position in the war against public employees.
Nathan Saunders, President of WTU shared his perspective on the performance based pay system and how it affects teachers. Evaluating teachers on the test scores of their students does not take into consideration the socioeconomic influences the students often struggle with. The system does not encourage teachers to educate in economically challenged areas nor does it protect the job of the teacher who fights to educate and nurture the children in impoverished communities. Saunders reinforced the value of education by sharing the role the National Labor College has played in his career. Saunders received his master’s degree, attended the Harvard Law’s Trade Union Program, and is currently taking a class titled Negotiating Contracts with State and Local Governments at the NLC.
It is no surprise that education helps leaders maneuver the torrential political climate many workers in America are being swept up in whether they like it or not. The panelists agreed that workers are not only at war with Republicans but we must also become educated and aware of the agendas of our often union endorsed Democratic politicians. AFGE Local 2978 President Robert Mayfield shared his history with former District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty. Mayfield believed that Fenty’s attitude and agenda went south regarding workers after being elected Mayor which has unfortunately become a common theme among elected officials.
Jeff Buddle, Vice President of IAFF Local 1664 expressed his frustrations with local governments, more specifically Montgomery County. He also explained the current battle against binding arbitration in Anne Arundel County. Buddle also raised a good point in response to a young worker that asked about unions’ current position on the rallies, strikes, and protests of labor history that brought about worker rights reform. Buddle pointed out that local governments are placing workers in a position to put these practices into action. A collective bargaining agreement typically includes the condition that the workers will not strike. Now that collective bargaining contracts are being opened to undo the negotiated terms, and neutral third party arbitrator decisions are being dismissed by legislation throughout the country, Buddle questions if politicians are ready for the ramifications of a county’s fire fighters, nurses, and police officers, and other public employees striking to maintain workers' rights and dignity.
The panel certainly let us know that the fight against workers has made it right here to our home. The places we live and work have become targets of those who have little understanding of what it is like to lose a job and health insurance due to budget cuts and lay offs or experience long term unemployment.
It is very apparent that something must be done! Merle Cuttitta, President of SEIU Local 500 encourage the DC YTU audience to “think bigger”. As young workers we can not be afraid to try new things and encourage our leaders to do the same. The old adage of if you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you’ve always got contains both truth and wisdom. We were asked to critically analyze race and diversity and the part it plays in union structure and politics. Cuttitta explained why it is going to take more than desire to elevate union and save middle class America. Young workers must have the tools to handle the job and the responsibility as well. If we wait around for someone to give them to us we will be okay as long as we don’t hold our breath at the same time. It is our responsibility to go out and gain the experiences, mentorship, and education necessary to continue the way of life that provides opportunity to the impoverished and sustains the middle class.
The evening ended with the news that you all have been waiting for…
Raffle Ticket Winners
Thank you all for your support and congratulations to the winners!
50/50: Ian Brady, UA 602 (*Donated his $61 back to DC YTU)
$50 Cheesecake Gift Certificate: Orlando Wilerson, UA 602
Flip Camera: Don Herrity, IUEC 10
42" Flat screen TV: Joe Beck, UA 602