NEVER FORGET: A Letter from Terri Donovan Director of Collective Bargaining, AFT-NH

Terri Donovan (left) and Ret Rochester Teacher Bob Sinclair (right)

Written by
Terri Donovan, Esquire
Director of Collective Bargaining and Field Services, AFT-NH

Since January 2011, AFT-NH locals and our fellow union members around the State have been under assault but we all knew that one day longer was one day stronger. We knew that the November 6th election would be our opportunity to change the conversation in Concord and stop the attacks. Our members, against tremendous odds, fought back against right to work “for less”, elimination of collective bargaining rights, elimination of lunch breaks, total gutting of the NH Retirement System, automatic increases in health insurance costs to members when a contract expires and a massive assault on public education and public employees, to name just a few items. They came at us on every front but more importantly they have attacked the very fabric of what makes NH a very special place to live and raise children. We must defend our state, our children and our members.

Our local leaders and negotiating teams have battled through the economic downturn at the same time the extreme O’Brien tea party NH House was unrelenting in their attacks. With deep conviction and persistence, our members did the heavy lifting whether it was signing petitions, showing up at the State House, calling legislators and sending letters.  We survived…for now and we are stronger. We had to dig deep and be reminded of why the work we do is so very important not only for our members for but NH’s middle class families and those less fortunate. Our members serve the public because they want to make a real difference in their communities.

Will we wake up on November 7th and wonder what happened? Or will we celebrate that we can once again negotiate a contract in an atmosphere where our very existence as a union is not in jeopardy and some balance has been restored to the dialogue in Concord?

All of the work done by union members for the past two years has brought us to this unique opportunity to restore civility at the State House and reaffirm our rights as public employees who deserve respect, dignity and fairness in the workplace.  We have lived to fight for another day-stronger and recommitted to the cause of fairness and a voice in the workplace. We believe in public education. We defend and fight for our police officers and firefighters who protect and serve NH citizens every day. We believe in a strong middle class and opportunity for every NH child and family.

We must never forget that when we work together we can restore the promise of a better tomorrow for the next generation and our state. November 6th is your day to make it happen.

It’s our time to reclaim our New Hampshire.