AFT Connecticut March/April 2013 "State of the Union"

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State of theUnion

March/April 2013


n his State of Union address, President Barack Obama called on Congress to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9, with subsequent increases in line with inflation. Currently the minimum wage in Connecticut is $8.25 an hour and already corporate and right-wing interests are out trying to stop an increase in the minimum wage. From 1997 to 2007 the U.S. minimum wage was $5.15 an hour. The last increase was phased in from 2007 to 2009 and resulted in $5.5 billion dollars being pumped into our economy through purchases by the public. If the minimum wage had matched worker productivity in America the current minimum wage would be over $20 an hour right now. More than 70 percent of minimum wage earners are over the age of 20 and the vast majority of minimum wage earners work for corporations with 100 or more employees. Raising the minimum wage is good for our economy and good for the people of Connecticut.

Obama Honors Newtown Victims with Citizens Medal


resident Barack Obama honored the six educators who were slain at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December with the Presidential Citizens Medal. The award is the country’s second-highest civilian honor. Obama recognized Rachel Davino, Lauren Rousseau, Victoria Soto, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy and Mar y Sherlach along with 12 other Americans. “A special note to the families who are here from Sandy Hook; we are so blessed to be with you,” Obama said as he recognized the award recipients at the White House on Feb. 15. “I have gotten to know many of you through the course of some very difficult weeks. Your courage and love for each other and your communities shines through every single day.” Representing their six colleagues, who were slaughtered along with 20 six and seven year olds on Dec. 14, 2012, were: · Tom Kuroski, Newtown High School teacher and president of the Newtown

Malloy Boosts ECS Funding by $152 Million


Photo: AFT-Michael Campbell

Raising the Minimum Wage Works

(From Left) Rick Thorne, Kris Feda, Joanne Didonato and Tom Kuroski. Federation of Teachers. · Joanne Didonato, secretary to Sandy Hook’s principal Dawn Hochsprung and president of the Newtown Federation of Education Personnel. Didonato was out of the building on Dec. 14, but since the shooting she has been central to preparing the new school for students and employees. Continued on Page 6

Hartford Teacher Receives Milken Educator Award


Community Health Services Workers Join AFTCT


Gov. Malloy Proposes Boosting ECS by $152 Million Over Bienium

Photo: Nancy Andrews


n Feb. 5 Governor Dannel P. Malloy, joined by Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wy man, Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, and leaders from the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) and the AFT Connecticut, announced a proposal to significantly increase the Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) aid to 117 municipalities, while maintaining level funding to the remaining cities and towns. The additional aid will also target needed resources and support to the state’s 30 under performing Alliance District schools. “Last year, with strong bipartisan support, we passed an education reform package that invests in our schools and prepares our students for real-world jobs. Today, we are reaffirming that commitment with additional funding so that we can build on the good work being done by our teachers and education leaders,” said Governor Malloy. “We have an obligation to each and every student in our schools to provide them with a quality public education so they can compete in the 21st Century economy. By recommitting these resources, we are taking a giant step forward toward achieving that goal.” “The reforms enacted last year were the first step to begin fixing what’s broken in many of our public schools,” said Lt. Governor Wyman. “This funding structure will ensure that we continue to pursue our goal of helping turn around struggling schools, allowing successful ones to keep thriving, and better preparing students to move onto high school, college, and the workforce.”

AFTCT Pres. Melodie Peters talks about the importance of increasing funding for public education. Under the Governor’s proposal, a $50.7 million increase in ECS aid for fiscal year 2014 and a $101.5 million increase in fiscal year 2015 will provide enhanced education aid to 117 cities and towns, as well as focusing aid to Alliance Districts — 30 schools districts that educate approximately 41 percent of all Connecticut students. As part of planning, Alliance Districts will develop comprehensive reform strategies that emphasize three key areas: teacher evaluation and support; implementation of the Common Core State Standards; and the turnaround of lower performing schools. The Governor also announced a new collaboration between the State Department of Education and the two teachers unions, CEA and AFTCT, to enable a partnership be-

tween local districts and unions to attract top teaching candidates to Connecticut schools, retain our best teachers, and provide advancement opportunities for teachers over the course of their careers. "That partnership started last year during the sometimes contentious education reform negotiations," said AFT Connecticut President Melodie Peters. “We worked our way through sometimes with bruises, sometimes with big smiles. But here we are today talking about a second step, or second phase to education and supporting education.” Funding for recruiting and retaining top teachers will be allocated to two or three districts through a competitive grant process. The Governor expects to make $2 to $3 million available for these efforts.

Melodie Peters President STATE OF THE UNION is published on an irregular basis up to six times a year by AFT Connecticut, 35 Marshall Road, Rocky Hill, CT 06067. Phone: 860/257-9782 Third class postage paid at Hartford, CT

Postmaster: Send address changes to: AFT CONNECTICUT 35 Marshall Road Rocky Hill, CT 06067. Members: To change your address or subscription, call 860/257-9782.

STATE OF THE UNION is mailed to all AFT Connecticut members as a benefit of membership. Subscription fees are included in dues, $20 per year for non-members. Although advertisements are screened as carefully as possible, acceptance of an advertisement does not imply AFT Connecticut endorsement of the product or service. © AFT CONNECTICUT, AFT, AFL-CIO 2009

Stephen McKeever First Vice President Leo Canty Second Vice President Ed Leavy Secretary/Treasurer Eric Bailey Communications Director

AFT Connecticut Members Named to Sandy Hook Advisory Commission

Photo: Eric Bailey


overnor Malloy appointed 16 members of the Sandy Hook Adv isor y Commission, to review current policy and make specific recommendations in the areas of public safety, with particular attention paid to school safety, mental health, and gun violence prevention. Included a mong t he appointees are AFT Connecticut member Ron Chivinski, a teacher at Newtown Middle School, and retired member Patricia Keavney-Maruca, a former technical high school teacher and AFT Connecticut appointee to the State Board of Education. "It is my honor to represent Newtown educators on this commission," said Ron Chivinski. "I look forward to working with Chairman Jackson and the other members of the commission to make recommendations, which will help to prevent future tragedies like the one that occurred

Newtown teacher Ron Chivinski (right) talks with former Newtown State Rep. Chris Lyddy and State Board of Education member and former technical high school teacher Patricia Keavney-Maruca. at Sandy Hook Elementary School. An initial report will be due to the Governor by March 15, in time for consideration during the regular session of the General Assembly. The commission’s members are currently

developing a meeting schedule, which will be announced as soon as it is available. Information about the commission can be found on the Governor’s website.

Newtown Teachers Pres. Kuroski Testifies Before School Security Task Force


Photo: Eric Bailey

he Bipartisan Task Force On Gun Violence Prevention And Children's Safety held its School Security Subcommittee hearing Jan. 25 in Hartford. Newtown Federation of Teachers President Tom Kuroski testified before the subcommittee. "As we continue to heal and to talk about the best ways to move our school district forward, it is imperative that

we continue to keep lines of communications - between school administrators, teachers and parents - open and honest," said Kuroski. "I am encouraged by the spirit of cooperation evidenced over the past few weeks following a meeting between our union, schools superintendent Dr. Janet Robinson and school board chair Debbie Leidlein." "Following the recommendations of the Newtown Federation of Teachers, the school board has given discretion to individual building leaders to reallocate time for Professional Learning Communities - time that was set aside to address curriculum development - to Professional healing Communities, that center around how best to serve the immediate and ongoing needs of teachers and staff as we, too, struggle to grapple with the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings," added Kuroski. Because the subcommittee held strict time limits for testimony, written testimony went into greater detail about suggestions.

Tom Kuroski testifies before the School Security Subcommittee. STATE OF THE UNION


Hartford Teacher Tamika Knight Receives Milken Educator Award

Photo: Vanessa de la Torre


he Milken Educator Award, described as the "Oscars of teaching", recognizes outstanding teachers at the midpoint of their career. This year the Milken Family Foundation recognized Hartford Teachers Tamika Knight. A Hartford teacher for 12 years, Tamika grew up in the Hartford School System, attending Milner Elementary, Quirk Middle and the former Classical Magnet program at Hartford Public High School, Tamika always envisioned herself as a Hartford teacher. Unlike most teacher awards, the Milken Educator Award has no formal nomination or application process. Every participating state’s department of education appoints an independent blue ribbon committee to recommend candidates according to strict criteria, with final selections made by the Milken Family Foundation. Tamika says "One of the biggest lessons I teach my fifth-graders is you never know who's watching you." How right she is.

Hartford Teacher Tamika Knight receives the Milken Educator Award. On Jan. 25, Tamika was surprised at the morning assembly where she was presented with the award and a check for $25,000, by Jane Foley, a senior vice president with the Milken Family Foundation. Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, school board Chairman Matthew Poland and Mayor Pedro Segarra, joined the students in applauding Knight.

"Character, how you treat other people, what you say, how you present yourself all the time," said Knight. "That's what makes good people." "I'm still in awe of this moment," said Knight. "I couldn't do this without my students."

Common Core

Workshops These workshops are designed to help teachers on all grade levels implement the Common Core into their classrooms.

4:30pm - 7:30pm March 27 - ELA April 4 - ELA April 26 - Math To register call 860-257-9782 4 STATE OF THE UNION

Workers at Community Health Services, Inc. Vote to Join AFT Connecticut


he workers at Community Health Services, Inc. (CHS) in Hartford voted Feb. 1 to join AFT Connecticut. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) oversaw the election. “As the largest representative of acute care hospital workers in Connecticut, we believe that the healthcare workers at CHS fit perfectly within our union,” said Melodie Peters, president of AFT Connecticut. “The courage and determination of the providers at CHS Hartford to provide care and access for the impoverished and afflicted of our community will be enhanced through our union empowerment,” said Irving Buchbinder, Podiatrist. “I appreciate having a union now because it strengthens our voice,” said Phyllis Schling, APRN, Adult Medicine. “Having a stronger voice means we will be better

able to advocate for our patients. Moving forward, I am really looking forward to collaborating with the administration at CHS in order to provide the best care possible to the community." The new local has total of 37 employees with the following job titles: MD, APRN, LCSW, Diabetes Coordinator, Registered Dietician, Physician Assistants, RN, LADC, Psychiatrist, Dentist, Pediatrician, Podiatrist, MSW, CNM, Clinical Compliance RN, HIV Medication RN, Licensed Professional Counselor, Dental Hygienist and LPNS. “The healthcare services provided by CHS are invaluable to the North End of Hartford,” said Peters. “We look forward to working with them as they continue to provide the best care possible for the community.”

Connecticut Roundtable on Climate & Jobs Tuesday, March 19, 2013 6:00 – 8:00pm (light snack will be served) Rm 310 (Old Appropriations) State Capitol, Hartford

Join us if you are concerned about both: • creating good jobs in our state • the impact of climate change

Read more:


Workshops The Acting Out Cycle 4:00pm - 7:00pm April 29, 2013 ELL 4:00pm - 7:00pm May 16, 2013

To register call 860-257-9782 STATE OF THE UNION


Study: States Waste Billions Luring Jobs from Each Other


tate and local governments waste billions of dollars each year on economic development subsidies given to companies for moving existing jobs from one state to another rather than focusing on the creation of truly new positions, according to a study released today by Good Jobs First, a non-profit, non-partisan research center based in Washington, DC. The report, entitled The Job-Creation Shell Game, is available at www.goodjobsfirst. org/shellgame. "What was long ago dubbed a Second War Between the States is, unfortunately, raging again in many parts of the country," said Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First and principal author of the report. "The result is a vast waste of taxpayer funds, paying for the geographic reshuffling of existing jobs rather than new business activity. By pretending that these jobs are new, public officials and the recipient companies engage in what amounts to interstate job fraud." To cool these job wars, the report recommends that states demonetize interstate job fraud. That is, the states should stop subsidizing companies for existing jobs that are treated as "new" simply because their location has changed. Learn more at

New Brief Addresses Causes, Prevention of Dropping Out


f forts in recent years have sought to measure dropout rates—and graduation rates— more precisely and consistently and thus compare rates among various schools and districts. Depending on the state, 70% to 85% of students graduate w it hin t he t radit iona l four years. Adults lacking a high school diploma suffer from dramatically lower wages—on average only slightly more than half the average wages for high school graduates— and poorer life chances, with lower employment rates, poorer health

histories and greater rates of incarceration. No single factor, Mathis notes, explains or predicts dropping out; instead, the National Dropout Prevention Center has identified no fewer than 25 significant predictors, with the presence of three or more factors putting a student at risk. Low socioeconomic status, low parental educational level, family disruption, high-risk peer groups, low achievement, and poor attendance are just some of the risk factors. Read more at

Obama Honors Newtown Victims with Citizens Medal continued from Page 1 ·

Kris Feda, Sandy Hook teacher and math/science specialist. Feda was in the main office in a parent meeting with principal Hochsprung, psychologist Mary Sherlach, and lead teacher Natalie Hammond, who was injured. Feda is the teacher who others said took charge to move students and staff from the school to the firehouse. (Hammond was a guest


of Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., at the State of the Union address on Tuesday.) · Rick Thorne, Sandy Hook custodian, who went through the school during the shooting, locking any open doors and making sure hallways were clear and that staff and students were safely in their classrooms.

Union Scholarships Available Richard "Dik" Days Scholarships (Deadline March 30, 2013) The Connecticut Chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), the International Union of the United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) in collaboration with the Days Family are pleased to announce the 2011 Richard (Dik) Days Scholarship Awards. AFT Robert G. Porter Scholars Program (Deadline March 31, 2013) This program offers four-year, $8,000 post-secondary scholarships to students who are dependents of AFT members, as well as one-time $1,000 grants to AFT members. AFT Connecticut Scholarships (Deadline April 1, 2013) The AFT Connecticut Scholarship Selection Committee awards two scholarships each year. The George C. Springer Scholarship is for AFT Connecticut members and the AFT Connecticut Scholarship is for members' spouses or domestic partners or children of members. Kershner Scholarship (Deadline May 13, 2013) The Connecticut AFL-CIO is offering a $500 tuition award for study at any accredited college or university to a high school senior who is the son or daughter of a dues-paying member or him/herself the member of any union affiliated with the state labor federation. You can access Scholarship Applications on the Benefits page of our website:

The sixty-sixth Annual Business Convention will convene on Saturday, May 18, 2013 at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville.

2013 Convention Call Save the Date. . . Deadline: For: Monday, March 18, 2013 submission of PROPOSED AMENDMENTS to the AFT Connecticut Constitution Friday, April 26, 2013 submission of RESOLUTIONS for consideration by Convention delegates Friday, April 12, 2013 submission of NOMINATIONS for the Joseph H. Soifer Award, and the Unionist of the Year

Complete registration materials will be mailed in April.

Locals must comply with the following in order for their delegates to be seated. Dues paid through at least: April 2013 Call the AFT Connecticut office for additional information at 860-257-9782.



Nonprofit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Hartford CT Permit # 4501

Patients Before Profits Melodie Peters, AFT Connecticut President


s the largest representative of acute care hospital workers in the state, AFT Connecticut is greatly concerned with what is happening at Eastern Connecticut Health Network (ECHN). Our union represents the RNs, LPN/Techs and Maintenance Personnel at Manchester Memorial Hospital as well as the RNs at Rockville General Hospital. Our members have watched as the management of ECHN has turned these community hospitals away from their mission of putting patients before profits. We all recognize that the cost of healthcare is rising; however, it is impossible to listen to ECHN cry poor when they are paying their CEO Peter Karl more than a million dollars and paying its other executives extravagant salaries. On top of that, five members of ECHN’s Board of Trustees, including their chairman, Dr. Dennis O’Neill, are benefiting from contracts with ECHN, which is a clear conflict of interest. And now those same executives want to cash in by offering a merger to neighboring hospitals. Shame on them. The communities served by Manchester Memorial

Hospital and Rockville General Hospital deserve better. As a nurse, I am offended by what ECHN has been doing. The executives hide being the excuse that they work long hours and need to pay themselves exorbitant salaries in order to recruit and retain the best people for the job. Tell that to the nurse who works a 12-hour shift when the hospital is short staffed. No one can say that the executives at ECHN have easier jobs than the nurses. When hospitals live up to their mission as nonprofit centers of healing, and invest in their workers and the care they provide, then the community and the economy is all the better for it. But when corporate executives use money that should be serving patient care and line their own pockets with it, everyone else suffers. This isn’t right and ECHN knows better. Every day nurses and healthcare workers are giving their patients the best care possible. Imagine the environment of care with additional resources that could be provided when money is going into patient care rather than lining the pockets of ECHN executives.

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