Why am I running for President of 668? The easy answer is because I have never felt like I belonged anywhere like I do here, with my union friends and family. Quite literally I am related to other members and my best friends come from our ranks. I have not had an easy life but have always been thankful for the opportunity to just be here since by all rights I should not. Before I even learned to walk and talk my own parents tried to end my life after subjecting me to abuse for over a year, not just neglect. The world was not so cruel as to leave me in their hands or let me perish there, it had other plans for me. So, in 1981, I was whisked away by what I can only assume was a process involving all sorts of government workers from Colorado where I was born to Florida where I was ultimately adopted from an orphanage in 1982 by my mom and a reluctant father. I had the normal divorced parents and single mom life through the rest of the 80’s. From their my Stepdad came into me and my mom’s life and has been there like a rock ever since.
I was a precocious ADD riddled pre-teen always looking for something else to do other than be bored, I had read all our books twice and spent all my money on more and read those too and managed to be an annoyance at the local library. As an only child with no cable TV and prior to the internet I was bored all the time. So, I decided to volunteer at the Meadville Medical Center, this was 1992 and I was 12, I did this during the summers and then during school I would walk there after we got out, a couple blocks away and help around the reception area showing people to their appointments or their loved one’s room, my favorite part was reading to little kids in pediatrics. I was still mostly a kid myself you know. Once I became old enough to work, I got my Lifeguard certification and found a job on Conneaut Lake for the summers. I must admit that once I could work, I really did not volunteer as much anymore except for in my Senior year I coached Soccer for the local League.
Please do not think I am an angel because at the same time in my life I kept getting in trouble at school. My grades were good, that part was always easy for me, the problem was I could not sit still or be quiet when I was younger. Something I have learned to cope with over the years, I never stop moving or so says my Fitbit. LOL. I graduated and immediately went to the Navy. Technically I graduated a bit early, so I was in boot camp prior to the end of the year. Somehow, I had accumulated enough credits to get out a semester early and I took it to get to this thing called adulthood as soon as possible. What an idiot I was. After the Navy I came back to Meadville PA to attend Allegheny College, I learned a very important lesson there. I do not like school. I thought since I had grown up I would be a better student and able to enjoy learning like everyone else, I was wrong!
It was all for the better as I had started a family and needed to be a working man anyways. I tried a couple careers and trades now it is 2008 and I had been learning to become a loan officer. Things were OK, until they weren’t, and the economy crashed. My company went bust early in the Great Recession. I was working 3 PT jobs on 3 different shifts for several months until Veterans Day that year when I folded my body like you would a t-shirt at the end of my route delivering newspapers at 5 am.
Well never have I ever been in a wheelchair, just kidding. With a 6-month-old and 2.5-year-old at the time life was hard. No job, broken body, and I had 2 tiny angels depending on me for their future, looking up to me as their dad. Everything was so hard in a wheelchair. I discovered the assistance office in that time, I had to get MA and SNAP for US, where I now work helping others, I still can’t believe that sometimes. Telling this is always emotional for me. Within a week I was dragging myself back into a car to deliver newspapers as it was all I could do to earn money. Of course, I was looking for other work, always, but I still had this job, thank goodness. Since the economy had crashed and everyone was laid off looking for work where there was none to be had I thought. “I bet the unemployment office is hiring?” So, I went to CareerLink and sure enough I was right. I took my test in that wheelchair and got the job.
This was my first Union job and it happened to be with 668. At almost a year I was on the way to work in January when I was struck by a semi-truck. I was a bit under the weather for a while, but I had to get back to work. Since I was less than a year employed, I could not anticipate time. I had no choice but to go back after only 3 workday and a weekend. Through grit and determination like so much of my life I drug myself to work in untold amounts of pain. My main injury was to my brain, the headaches and memory issues persists till this day. As thanks from management for being so dedicated to my career and the citizens of PA I was awarded with leave restriction. With a straight face the IMA told me it was for my own good so that I would build a healthy leave balance in case of an emergency. I said “Like the one I just had, and had enough time to cover? It was that moment where I decided I would be more involved in the Union.
Luckily, I got out of there and transferred to a PA Soldiers and Sailors home where I was part of AFSCME. I loved the work there, being a vet. However, my family needed a better income then I was making as a Paygrade 04 so I applied for IMCW at Erie CAO which was a nice raise for us. After only a short 2 years I was recognized for my leadership qualities and promoted to a supervisor after only a short 2 years. Once past probation the opportunity arose for me to get more involved in the Union through the Chapter, I had been to meetings and volunteer to be on the legislative endorsement committee for the 2016 election cycle. From there I became shop steward for the supervisor’s unit and then joined the Statewide LMM team.
I told you my story so that you would understand who I am and what I am capable of. With me as your president you get a unstoppable explosive force of nature that those closet have tried to kill and failed Life itself has tried to kill and maim me at every turn, by all rights I should not even be here let alone successful. Many orphans grow up and can never overcome their trauma or the lack of support in their lives. I came away from it with a tireless spirit who knows the future is what you make of it, no matter the challenges you have been given.
I will bring this drive to your needs, our needs as I do for my family, because you are all my family. I will forever work to repay the place I have been given here, with you all, it is so important to my soul that we not only survive but that we thrive. I promise my focus will be Labor, Labor, Labor.
The rise of AI has been ignored by our leaders for too long while the bosses mine it for potential right in front of our eyes. In my own dept of Human Services AI is processing the majority of LIHEAP apps as of this year. No interaction needed from me or my workers, no human interaction. When the human is being taken out of Human Services then we have a problem.
I will work to grow our union at every turn, for too long this union has been leaning one way politically more than another. No matter how much one may agree with this stance it has to be recognized as a divisive issue that hurts us. Any good we do pushing agendas that do not directly affect our work conditions or pay we set up the potential to upset a large portion of our potential membership pool. I think I heard 30 or 40 percent of the union is conservative, even if they are not poll after poll shows most Americans are in the middle. We should be in the middle and ignore political movements. We already have a political movement and that is of the Labor cause. Any focus taken from that causes us potential members.
Recently this union lost a whole shop to another union, in my opinion it was a bad move for them since we have amazing business agents and negotiators, but they left anyway. The shop was the Erie Prison CO’s, many of whom are more conservative leaning. Our opposing politics was a factor in them leaving. If your union sides with the people who want to defund police, then I think it is quite obvious a unit of Corrections Officers may not feel we have their best interest at heart. Does that mean I would retreat from the political field of battle, homeless without party. NO!
No, it means we will support and fight bills and laws that affect us with our money and our time. Not help some rich out of touch corporatist politician gain office and forget about you the very next Tuesday. With my strategy our dollars would be employed putting members in their offices to speak truth to power. We would fund marketing campaigns to pressure them. Most of all we would make sure they knew we would fight against them and their career at every turn if they do not support what we support, oppose what we oppose. All with the intent of recruiting our retired and politically motivated members into a Labor party. We will start by capturing seats like Ronnie Green did but instead of a D or R next to her name it will be a L for us, by us. For the people by the people, for Labor by Labor.
Last let me tell you I want to be the first member to be elected directly from a shop to be our president. I did not know till I started running that this Union has never had a non-staff president. All the Presidents up to this point worked for the Union then ran for office. I don’t know about y’all but that does not sit right with me. We the members should be elevating each other to the leadership position. Business Agents enjoy higher pay than almost all of us and name recognition from the job we hired them to do putting them in a better position to run. I can tell you that would make running much easier for me, but if you read my story, you know that is not how my life goes. Just like in our governmental politics we are ruled by a select few, Union Staff when we should be electing our Presidents from our ranks. I want y’all to know that the destination for me is to become your leader. I am not hoping to rise to a higher office or position, I am looking to lead y’all to a comfortable retirement together.
Please accept the pledge below:
I will put the You back in Union.
I will be a leader for all members.
I will never surrender your unit work or your bargaining rights.
I will never put a political party or belief before Labor.
I will never put myself before Labor.
I will be your Champion against those that think they are better than you, more valuable than you.
My Email is firstname.lastname@example.org and you can find me at Taylor for Change 668 on Facebook.