AFT Connecticut May/June 2013 "State of the Union"

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State of theUnion

May/June 2013

Pay gap between CEOs and workers at record high

Safe Staffing Saves Lives


he 2013 edition of the AFL-CIO’s Executive Paywatch, launched this year on Tax Day, shows no end to the trend of soaring CEO pay and stagnant pay for the average worker. In 1982, the average CEO earned 42 times that of the average worker. By 2012, the gap had reached 354 times. Put in current dollar terms, the CEO of a Standard & Poor’s 500 index company earned $12.3 million in total compensation last year, while the average rank-and-file worker earned $36,654. “Runaway CEO pay is fueling economic inequality in the U.S. and undermining our shared prosperity,” says AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka. “In addition, high levels of CEO pay can encourage excessive risk by CEOs, which hurts the longterm prospects of the companies they run.” As with past editions, the Executive Paywatch site lets you compare your pay and benefits package to that of a CEO, search the CEO pay database, and take action to rein in CEO pay. Go to to learn more.


ationwide efforts are underway to enact legislation that will help ensure hospitals are doing more to provide safe staffing levels. Connecticut is no exception. AFT Connecticut is promoting legislation that would require hospitals to

Covering Mental Anguish From Work Related Trauma


report staffing levels to the Department of Public Health. To help move this issue a new website was created.

Continued on page 4

What Did Michelle Rhee Know About Cheating in D.C. School Tests?


Windham Teacher Shows It’s All Math Baby


Sandy Hook Run for the Families a Tremendous Success!


n what has been billed as the largest inaugural run in Connecticut history, more than 15,000 runners turned out on a cold snowy morning to support the families of Newtown. Dozens of teachers from Newtown were on-hand for the race. "This is an amazing turnout," said Tom Kuroski, president of Newtown Teachers. "It is so wonderful to see people coming together to support our community." AFTCT staff Teri Merisotis and Kristine Metcalf, along with numerous volunteers, gave out water and snacks at the AFT Connecticut tent. AFTCT videographer Neal Thomassen interviewed race organizers and members. AFTCT Staff Anna Cerritelli, Ole Hermanson and Eric Bailey participated in the race.

Workers Affected by Newtown Tragedy to Receive Coverage Through Sandy Hook Workers Assistance Program and Fund


n March 6, the Connecticut General Assembly unanimously passed legislation that will provide coverage for all workers suffering mental or emotional impairment from the tragic shooting that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. "On behalf of the teachers, clerical staff and custodians we represent in Newtown, I want to thank the legislature for taking up this important bill," said Melodie Peters, president of AFT Connecticut. "I especially want to thank the legislative leaders

on both sides of the aisle. They're efforts to move this legislation forward is a credit to their ability to work together to do what's right for these workers." Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, Senate President Pro Tempore Don Williams, House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, House Minority Leader Larry Cafero and Senate Minority Leader John McKinney introduced Bill 6599. Bill 6599 An Act Establishing The Sandy Hook Workers Assistance Program and Fund, Clarifying the

Calculation of Survivor Benefits, and Authorizing a Waiver of the StateWide Mastery Examination Requirement for Certain Newtown Students was introduced in the house by State Representative Steve Dargan. The bill was introduced in the Senate by State Senators Joan Hartley, Cathy Osten and Andrea Stillman. Senator Osten is championing changes to the workers’ compensation statute so special legislation like this will no longer be necessary. Learn more at

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. Š AFT CONNECTICUT, AFT, AFL-CIO 2009

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

Memo raises troubling questions about Rhee and cheating


memo uncovered by PBS's John Merrow concerning former chancellor Michelle Rhee's knowledge of cheating in District of Columbia Public Schools is troubling, AFT president Randi Weingarten says. "First, it strongly suggests that Michelle Rhee knew in 2009 of widespread allegations of cheating in D.C. public schools and failed to act," she says. "And second, it indicates that rather than conducting a full investigation of the allegations, a strategy was devised to dodge them. "Those of us in D.C. at the time heard rumors t hat R he e pre ssured principa ls to i mpr ov e t e s t scores and that she looked the other way when ev idence of cheating was put before her. A s Joh n Mer row concluded, Rhee's overzealous fixation on testing and

measurement, and her efforts to silence and fire anyone who questioned her reckless, destabilizing strategies, ultimately failed D.C.'s kids. Under Rhee's tenure, DC-CAS scores showed little or no gain, and the performance gap between low-income and upper-income students actually widened. Schools were destabilized by the constant churn of teachers and principals being fired, relocated or leaving out of frustration. Our children deserved better. "In 2011, my colleague Nathan Saunders and I called for an immediate, full-scale investigation to be conducted by an unbiased third party. The Sanford memo—suggesting 70 schools may be at issue—also calls into serious question whether the investigations done by the D.C. inspector general and the U.S. Department of Education inspector general, as well as the actions of D.C. State Superintendent of Education Deborah Gist, were comprehensive and thorough. "We renew the call for a full investigation, and ask the D.C. City Council, with its full subpoena powers, to conduct a series of hearings. That would be putting students first."

Community Schools Legislation Critical Step in Education Reform


n Act Concerning Community Schools would establish full service community schools in alliance districts with the goal of bringing together community partners to provide important student and family services at such schools. "This is a critical step in education reform and something for which we have been fighting," said Melodie Peters, president of AFT Connecticut. "Community schools are a large part of the solution needed to improve education for every child in Connecticut." "Supporting community schools as a strategy for school reform is common sense," said Shital C. Shah, Assistant Director of Educational Issues for AFT. "Passage of this bill will send a message throughout the state that everyone has a role to play. If we organize all of the resources in the school districts and communities across the state to implement the community school strategy, our

teachers and principals will have the optimal teaching conditions; our parents will become more engaged in the education of their children, and most importantly our students will succeed." SB 1002 would require the local or regional board of education for each school district designated as an alliance district to identify two elementary schools and one high school located in the school district that will establish full service community schools beginning July 1, 2014.

AFT Asst. Dir. of Ed Issues Shital Shah and Sen. Don Williams testify for community schools.

UHP President Appointed to State Contracting Standards Board


ean Morningstar, president of UHP Local 3837 and AFTCT Vice President for members under the State Employee Bargaining Act, has been appointed to the State Contracting Standards Board, by Governor Malloy. The State Contracting Standards Board mission is to ensure that state contracting and procurement processes reflect the highest standards of integrity, are clean and consistent and are conducted in the most efficient manner possible. STATE OF THE UNION


Safe Staffing Continued from Page 1 “We’re urging all of our healthcare members to go to our website to sign the petition and share their stories,” said AFTCT President Melodie Peters. Safe staffing means that an appropriate number of staff, with a suitable mix of skill levels, is available at all times to ensure that patient care needs are met and that hazard-free working conditions are maintained. Factors to be considered in determining safe staffing include the acuity level of patients, the need for nurses to have adequate opportunity and time to exercise professional judgement with respect to patient care, and acknowledgement that patient needs can change from moment to moment and will encompass physiological, economic, chemical, psychosocial, educational and spiritual requirements in addition to safety. Safe and cost-effective staffing also requires an understanding of the differences in skill level, experience and education of various types of licensed and unlicensed personnel and a recognition that inadequate or marginal staffing levels can lead to higher mortality rates, greater morbidity, increased risk of injury to both patient and staff, and increased utilization of both inpatient and outpatient facilities. As of March 2011, 15 states (CA, CT, IL, ME, MN, NV, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OR, RI, TX, VT, WA) and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation or adopted regulations addressing nurse staffing. Seven states (CT, IL, NV, OH, OR, TX, WA) require hospitals to have committees responsible for staffing policy, and five states (IL, NJ, NY, RI, VT) require disclosure or public reporting of staffing. More legislation is being introduced, including proposals by three states (FL, IL, IA) to create staffing committees, proposals by three states (HI, IL, MA) to require public disclosure laws, proposals by seven states (IN, KY, MD, NJ, NY, VT, WV) to set staffing ratios, and four states (CA, MA, MO, PA) with alternative nurse staffing bills.

Celebrate National Nurses Week May 6 – 12 4 STATE OF THE UNION

New Affiliations Strengthen AFT Healthcare Constituency


n the past month three nursing groups have voted to affiliate with AFT making our union the third largest representative of nurses in the nation. The 34,000-member National Federation of Nurses voted Feb. 7 to affiliate with the AFT, whose 1.5 million members include 48,000 nurses. The NFN is active in Montana, Ohio, Oregon and Washington state. The executive board of the 11,577-member Washington State Nurses Association voted Feb. 16 to affiliate with the AFT. Over the next several weeks, state affiliates in Ohio and Oregon will conduct their own formal ratification process. The Montana Nurses Association has approved

a historic affiliation agreement with the AFT. The MNA also announced a tentative two-year agreement for nurses working at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital. The 240-member bargaining unit has been working without a contract since December. "The affiliations with the AFT come at a time when nurses are uniting their voices to deal with rapid changes in the healthcare industry and the effective implementation of the Affordable Care Act," Weingarten says. "These affiliations represent a vote of confidence in the AFT as a union with a proven track record of standing up for professionals."

Backus Nurses Are Living United


he Backus Federation of Nurses Local 5149 held their third food drive to benefit the Gemma E. Moran United Way Labor Food Center in Southeastern Connecticut on March 9 bringing in 1,729 pounds of food. The first two food drives combined for just over 3,000 pounds of food. "Many people donated entire carriages of food which went a long way towards filling out truck," said John Brady, president of the Backus Federation of Nurses. The local also collected over $270 in cash and Stop and Shop gift cards. The nurses were also joined by the Security and Support Staff Union in hosting the food drive. "The support from our community was amazing," said Brady. "AFTCT President Melodie Peters supplied lunch for us. Lori Pelletier, secretarytreasurer of the CT AFL-CIO stopped to donate and to help. State Senator Cathy Osten and Norwich city Alderman Charlie Witt came out to support us. Even Backus Hospital president and CEO, Dave Whitehead, donated three cases of vegetables." WICH and WILI provided air time to promote the food drive.

Raising Haiti


essica Patti, a Backus Federation of Nurses RN, is founder and president of Raising Haiti, a non profit agency who’s mission is to help improve the social, educational, and medical conditions of the people of Haiti. Jessica, and many members of our Backus and L&M locals, travel at their own expense to Haiti roughly 6 times a year to minister to the health needs of the poorest of the poor. To learn more about the work being done in Haiti go to

AFTCT Pres. Melodie Peters (Left) and members of the Backus Federation of Nurses at their annual food drive. STATE OF THE UNION


Windham Teacher’s 5th Grade Class Wins Classroom Makeover Contest


adio Host Kidd Kraddick recently held a classroom makeover contest. The show asked teachers to send in videos of their classes doing a “Glee” style performance to get a classroom makeover! Jennifer Vowles 5th Grade Class from North Windham Elementary in Windham, Connecticut was one of the winners. “Five students and I wrote the lyrics,” said Vowles. “The kids learned the choreography and memorized the lyrics in only three days. They encouraged each other, worked together and made the win possible with hard work and dedication.” “We got a live call from Kidd Kraddick letting us know that we had won,” said Vowles. “All the kids were surrounding me screaming. It was one of the days that the kids are never going to forget. “We won $1500 for a classroom makeover,” added Vowles. “I bought a document camera (ELMO) and projector, and upon the kids request, bean bag chairs and books. “ The students appeared on the front page of the Windham Chronicle, Windham Works Television show, and

were sent to the capital to meet the speaker of the house. You can check out the winning video on our website

Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week May 6 – 10, 2013

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 May 15, 21 – Math May 23 – ELA To register call 860-257-9782 6 STATE OF THE UNION

AFT and Cartoon Network team up to prevent bullying


FT president Randi Weingarten joined with Cartoon Network on April 3 to launch the "Stop Bullying: Speak Up" Flag Raising Campaign, a new partnership that will provide educators in more than a thousand schools nationwide with bullying prevention materials and curriculum suggestions. Cartoon Network initiated Stop Bullying: Speak Up with partners CNN and Time Inc. as a response to student interest in learning how to safely and effectively stop bullying. Now, with support from LG Electronics, that effort will be expanded through a partnership with the AFT to distribute free bullying prevention kits to help teachers, parents and communities begin or enhance their antibullying work. "This partnership with Cartoon Network is one of many projects in which the AFT is actively working with other organizations to eradicate bullying in every form— from the schoolyard to cyberspace," Weingarten says. "We applaud Cartoon Network's effort, and we will continue to work with them and other partners to give educators, parents and students the tools they need to help end bullying and make our schools and communities safe." Stuart Snyder, president and chief operating officer of Cartoon Network highlighted the project's connection with student concerns. "We are honored to partner with the AFT on this important project. Young people nationwide told us they want to learn what to do when they see their friends get bullied—they want to work with their teachers and parents to create safe, supportive school environments," Snyder says. "Stop Bullying: Speak Up provides educators and students with tools they can use to begin or enhance those efforts."

Two years ago, the AFT launched the "See a Bully, Stop a Bully: Make a Difference" campaign to spread the word to parents, teachers and students about the devastating effects suffered by those who experience bullying. The AFT has bolstered the anti-bullying training it has provided to educators for years, and its website offers a host of resources educators and parents can use to identify bullying behavior and intervene to stop it. "We no longer can excuse bullying as just something kids must face as part of growing up," Weingarten says. "And we know that every adult in the school system— parents, teachers, principals, nurses, librarians, counselors and others—has a role to play. The resources in the Cartoon Network bullying prevention kits will help them do that." The kits include a flag that students can raise to signal that their school does not tolerate bullying, as well as templates they can use to make their own flags. Also included in the kit are an educator's guide, strategies and timelines for introducing the topic in elementary and middle schools, reading lists, tip sheets for students and parents, and a DVD with documentary videos and PSAs for classroom and assembly use. Additional materials, including free downloadable posters and curriculum materials in Spanish and Farsi, are available online. Throughout the Stop Bullying: Speak Up Flag Raising Campaign, the AFT and Cartoon Network will highlight stories of how students and educators are using these bullying prevention kits in their schools. Educators who share their experiences will be considered for a chance to present their results with Cartoon Network and the campaign's creators at the AFT TEACH Conference in July.


Workshop English Language Learners 4:00pm - 7:00pm May 16, 2013

To register call 860-257-9782

Public Service Recognition Week May 5 – 11 STATE OF THE UNION


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

It takes a union to... Melodie Peters, AFT Connecticut President


abor unions are responsible for so many of the benefits and freedoms that workers enjoy today. The 40-hour work week, overtime pay, safe working conditions, pensions, healthcare, equal pay for equal work and the list goes on and on. If you think that unions don’t continue to make a difference, think again. It takes a union to organize. In the last year we have been approached by hundreds of workers from across Connecticut asking to join our union. They recognize that collective bargaining gives them a voice in the workplace and the power to negotiate for better wages, benefits and working conditions. It takes a union to negotiate. Every year our field representatives work with the negotiating committees of locals to negotiate fair and equitable contracts. These negotiations often go way beyond wages and benefits and our staff have been highly trained to handle the complex issues arising in workplaces today. It takes a union to fight for justice. Hospitals have begun setting up shell companies and transferring

union jobs in an attempt to avoid contractual obligations. We’re fighting back with unfair labor practice charges at the National Labor Relations Board and organizing those workers to secure their right to a union. It takes a union to move legislation. This year we have successfully helped pass numerous pieces of legislation including a bill promoting the creation of community schools. Community schools remain open beyond regular school hours to provide access to tutoring, homework assistance and enrichment activities, as well as medical, dental and mental health services. The diversity of our union gives us the strength and clout we need to get the job done for you and your families. I hope you will join us at our annual convention on May 18 as we continue to celebrate all of our accomplishments and prepare for the future. We will continue to work together and show everyone what our union can do.

It’s now easier than ever to get the news and information you need right when you need it from AFT Connecticut! Our website makes it easy for you to stay informed and get involved in your union.

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