Recognizing A Con Game
As the newly elected MCCC President, I would like to welcome you all to the 2018-19 academic year and to wish everyone a productive semester. As a matter of history, we are living in interesting times. In terms of the MCCC and public sector unions in general, these are uncertain times. Nevertheless, I believe we will persist and prevail.
27 days after I assumed the reins of this office, while I was in the air on my way to Minneapolis for the NEA Representative Assembly, the Janus vs. AFSCME decision hit. Once the plane landed and airplane mode was turned off, my phone buzzed and chirped non- stop – announcing emails, voice mails, text messages, as if impatient for me to address them all. Right. Now. I felt put on notice. The union world as we knew it, was at an end, and we would need to adapt or perish.
Within minutes of the decision, the anti-union forces were at the ready with their emails encouraging members to drop union membership. These mailings tried to take advantage of our members confusion about the Janus decision. They tried to peddle their “looking out for #1” ethos, and to appeal to members greed. They tried to get members to turn on one another and to turn against their union.
Except it didn’t really work. Union members, it turned out, were not that confused by Janus. They recognized a con game when they saw it. They recognized the value of unions, and they were not interested in only “looking out for #1.” Instead they had the backs of their union brothers and sisters and trusted that their union brothers and sisters had theirs as well.
In the short time that I have been MCCC president, I have seen examples of perseverance, determination, and courage as well as kindness and selflessness on the part of union leaders and members that have left me feeling immensely proud to be a union member and humbled to be one of the leaders.
There is of course the other viewpoint, borne of righteous anger and cynicism that, as a union, we have not gone far enough, have not tried hard enough, do not care enough. No doubt we can, and must, always do better. The acts of perseverance, determination, and courage that I witnessed must be multiplied ten- fold. The acts kindness and selflessness a hundredfold. There is a lot of work to be done. But I am up for it. I hope you are too.
I want to close this statement with a couple of notes of appreciation. First, to the three former MCCC presidents whom I ’ve known personally and on whose shoulders I now stand. Although their respective leadership style and vision for the union differed one from the other, Rick Doud, Joe LeBlanc, and Diana Yohe worked hard for and cared deeply about the union. It is this work ethic and earnestness that I aim to emulate. Secondly, to Phil Mahler who has devoted his entire professional life to the health and wellbeing of the MCCC, serving, in turn, as President, Vice president, and Treasurer. To the extent that our union makes it through these uncertain times, it will in large part be due to Phil’s capable stewardship. I am most grateful that Phil continues to serve the MCCC in his capacity as office manager.
In solidarity, Margaret Wong MCCC President