Emily Brown (2019-2020)
Sandy Lygren (2018-2019)
An Open Letter to BrCCC Members
In Spring 2018, my morale about our union was the lowest it had ever been in my 20 years here. I think, like many of you, then or now, I really questioned participating anymore. A small thimbleful of uncivil folks had ruined local meetings for me personally by then.
I reached out to local leadership that Spring to share my concerns and morale issues about BrCCC. I had been a good member, I thought. I attended and participated in meetings, got active when asked and proactive even when not, made motions, etc. But from my seat, it all seemed so ineffective — we were lacking key info, it was confusing, people seemed to be giving opinions and not fact, etc.
Then I was nominated to VP. Susan had been thrown into presidency the term prior and was integral in outing the last HR. She was goin’ for it, getting things done. So, long story short, I decided to live the “create the change you want to see in the world” philosophy before bailing out. I wanted to help her change things.
Fast forward to today. I regret that decision every. damn. day.
I see now that I made a lot of incorrect assumptions. I assumed officers got training in the contracts, Weingarten rights, how to represent members, and for their leadership roles. I assumed that local leaders got support from statewide leaders. We heard, when Mary Rapien was Director, what a mess the state level was. I was the one who made the motion to VONC the BoD on behalf of Mary (based on her letter – I took her word that things were that bad). What happens to one of us happens to all of us. “That’ll show em!” or so I thought. But I was wrong.
Things are much worse than I could ever have imagined. I got to see what my money gets us, so to speak. I, as a leader and/or member, have now directly experienced statewide committees, grievances, the legal services they like to brag about, the Board of Directors, MCCC Executive Committee, etc. I’ve had lots of direct contact with key folks and so on.
The word “horrible” does not properly capture the experiences I’ve had or things I have witnessed as both a local leader and a cog in the machine that is MCCC and MTA. Indeed, it is not hyperbole that this has been devastating to my mental health, my family, my joie de vive. This will take me years to recover from. So, as someone you might care about, or at least respect as someone not afraid to speak truth to power or person, I want you to know my truth.
Now I am not implying it was the actual union work that got me down. No, that’s nada for a task master like me. In fact, that was fun! No, in my opinion, it was the politics, entrenched ideology, the ethics, a lot of the people, “dirty pool,” the lawyers, the oppression and suppression of change, the view of contingent faculty, more. It was … just heinous. This is as vague as I can be while still trying to capture …”it”… for you all.
So, I am resigning.
And not just resigning from BrCCC leadership VP position. I will no longer, can no longer in good conscience, contribute money to this partnership organization. I questioned what my almost $1,000 got me many times before this year, but now post-Janus, I have a choice. I can support my values. I can force change with my dollar. I can get my own million dollar educator’s liability insurance privately for near $65 per year.
I implore you to get WOKE and inventory what your state union has done for you lately. How’s that fifth course working for ya? How about years of low/no raises even when we’ve spent all that money and got a Democrat in office. What about the money from our dues spent on dinners and breakfasts where we rub elbows with the Legislators? What has it gotten us?
I encourage you to ask questions, read reports, and NOTICE who verbs and who doesn’t locally. Don’t vote for problematic or ineffectual people — keep them out. If I can give you one piece of advice, it is to stop settling or leaving it to others who are “willing”.
I empower you with your choice. If you don’t like the product, either don’t buy it or insist on quality. It is a new day.
I believe in unions. I do. I just don’t believe in MCCC or MTA based on what happened to me personally and what I observed. Based on what I have seen, I hope for all of us that it implodes. And if it does, I welcome the day to help you build a better Council and choose a better statewide union – one that acknowledges us. We are MTA’s “cash cow.” I’d like a statewide union that actually upholds the rights of WORKERS (all those that do their job) to work in a bully-free and harassment-free environment. I’d like a statewide union that helps us create a work place that we are proud of and an administration beholden to working with us. ‘Cause guess what? Administration wants those things too so that Bristol is a better place for everyone.
As I have said many times…YOU are the union. Feel your power.
If anyone would like to speak more specifically about my varied experiences, do reach out. If anyone should ever have the need to report under Title IX protections, please reach out. You will need a buddy and I will have your back when your union protects your abuser.
Now, my ego would love for Argentina to cry for me, it would, but I want to end on a positive note. It hasn’t been all bad. I have been quoted as saying “Flowers grow in shit. When you’re in shit, look for the flowers”.
To all those who stepped up when I was thrown into the Presidency and agreed to serve in my administration, you are a flower.
To all those who have stepped down with me in #solidarity (or who will officially resign from your BrCCC appointments), you are a flower.
To all those who came through for me in my worst times last fall, you are a flower.
To all those who reached out in support of the changes this year, you are a flower.
To all those I got to know better from my roles, you are a flower.
To working hard to ensure 400+ contingent faculty (not in the habit of living in email) completed the much needed Title IX training, avoiding consequences and with pay, a flower!
To the fight alongside professional staff to ensure a fair E7 change, a flower!
To getting a bylaws bylaw passed, flower!
To getting a civility bylaw passed, flower!
To a freakin’ awesome new website, flower!
To ending email reply alls…FLOWER! (LOL)
And to all those women who I now call friend, you are a forever flower and we are forged. #solidarity
March 25, 2019
For the majority of the fall semester, the Vice President’s position was vacant. President Susan McCourt was out on Leave of Absence. Vice President Sandy Lygren served as President.