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Letter to the Editor: Forming a Union

March 12, 2008

When I was young there was a TV cop show set in NYC that ended with “there are 8 million stories in the Naked City…and this was one of them.” It feels a little like the countless conversations that we are having around forming a union at UNH. Each of us has a story.

Some of us are worried about benefits; some not. Some are thinking we can build a more creative Separation Incentive Plan (SIP) than the one recently offered. Some of us are wishing for clearer expectations of salary increases with reclassifications; some a clearer path to reclassification. Some of us are OS who want to stay OS. Some of us are OS who would like a pathway to becoming PAT. Some of us, in single offices, just don’t want to feel so alone. And some of us would like no change at all. We are all the staff of the University of New Hampshire.

UNH staffers are in the beginning stages of sharing our stories - aspirations and worries, visions and concerns. Building a union at UNH is slow but satisfying work. So, there is no UNH union…yet. But when we have one, it will be ours, a union of the OS staff and the PAT staff of the University of New Hampshire. It will do what we want it to do. It will represent us. We will elect our leaders. The contracts that we negotiate will be voted on by us. Our affiliation with AFSCME will be just that – an affiliation. AFSCME staff will not run our local; we will run our local.

And, on the subject of change. Change happens whether we like it or not. Aren’t we better off managing the change via the legal protections afforded us and clearly spelled out in the laws of the state of New Hampshire? Forming a union is a legally-protected right. We can choose to exercise the right, or not. I encourage us to reach our decisions in an atmosphere of civil discourse. Let’s challenge each other, and let’s listen to each other.

I am happy to hear from more of you. Please don’t hesitate to email me. I can be reached at SueHuard@comcast.net

Suzanne Huard

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