Susan McCourt (2018-2020)
March 25, 2019
In the Fall 2016, there was no President of the Chapter Union (BrCCC). The former President resigned when she was elected President of the MCCC and the Chapter Vice President refused to take office. In addition, the College was selecting a new President. It was an important time for the Chapter to have strong leadership and an active and engaged chapter.
I was raised with a strong sense of duty to serve where it is needed. My strengths lay in speaking truth to power, working hard for what I believe, and positive relationships with many Bristol CC faculty and staff. I agreed to run and serve for one term. My main goal when elected was to have an engaged membership and strong leadership in place, and then support new leaders.
The events of the Fall of 2016 changed the trajectory of my work. First, I led members of MCCC and AFSCME to communicate their outrage to the Board of Trustees. Meetings with the Board and the Boards actions were followed by supporting members to speak out. During this time, I heard numerous members tell of the years of sexual harassment and/or discrimination that had been ignored by then HR VP and then College President. It was challenging, but vital work to support them and to work to change the policies and practices of HR.
During these two years, I also learned that the Executive Committee and MACER and DCE MACER were dysfunctional. A few worked very hard for members and for that I was grateful. Some thought their role was to show up to meetings. They offered little contribution and did no work beyond attending. Worse were those who would combine complaining with hostility and insulting others. They then would proceed to tell others what they should do. They did not work for the betterment of the chapter. They worked for their personal goals or not at all. They had the audacity to ignore emails and ask for reminders of meetings, yet expect immediate responses to their diatribes.
I also saw the dysfunction of the MCCC from the inside. There were two factions, each blaming the other. Each accusing the other of being dishonest. Meetings were filled with rancor and little was accomplished for the members. There was little respect for the adjunct faculty, and more work for self-preservation and paying themselves to attend meetings. I also questioned the work of the MTA consultants, who were frequently changing and not keeping up with their support of the chapters. When they were available to chapters, they clearly did not understand the contract and seemed powerless to help.
As my nearly two-year term was nearing a close, I was exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. I seriously considered not running again. But I kept returning to my original goals for the Chapter: to build strong leadership locally. The work with the new HR team was working fairly well. I didn’t want the chapter to lose ground. I could rest over the summer. Two more years and then I was out. I had strong people who wanted to change things locally. This could work.
Then a situation happened that made me realize that a summer of rest was not enough. My health was being affected by a person who had not only continued the bad behavior, but had escalated it. After a night in the ER, and consultation with my physician, I took a leave of absence from the Union Leadership and from coming to campus. I did my best to help Sandy Lygren with her work as Chapter President, while also protecting my health.
Returning I learned about the continuing dysfunction of the Board, the MCCC Officers, and the MTA. There continues to be a terrible lack of communication and follow through on chapter requests for support. In addition, the past weeks and months, the MCCC has failed to follow its own bylaws. In one case (of several), the statewide leadership went around chapter leadership to Impact Bargain without notifying the Chapter leadership, let alone include them. They failed to even ask straightforward questions about the situation. And then, in a Board meeting, they misrepresented the truth of what was going on, leading to the Board sanctioning the Chapter leadership for a signing a document that didn’t even exist.
In addition, I had learned firsthand that the reason I often had stated for staying in the union – legal representation – was simply terrible. The MTA appointed lawyer to handle a matter for me and others did not do her job. She repeatedly got information wrong and failed to answer emails and phone calls. It was exasperating. Yet, there was no way to complain to the MTA or MCCC. The MTA legal consultant used by the MCCC was actively working against the chapter leadership at Bristol. The lack of ethics in both the MTA and MCCC was astounding.
In this post-Janus time, I do not have to contribute to these organizations that I find unethical and unresponsive in serving their members. And so, I have decided to resign from the MTA and the MCCC. My dues (over $900 per year) will no longer to be used to serve these organizations. It’s time to move on.
Please know, that I am not resigning due to the work on this campus. I have enjoyed fighting for you with management – note that I said with management. For the most part, the administrators here are trying to work for the betterment of the College – supporting those who do their jobs well and collegially. Sometimes we don’t see eye-to-eye on how that is done. But they are my colleagues in the education of our students.
I am grateful to so many who have served the Chapter and helped me personally in a myriad of ways. And I will thank them privately. I will continue to support you, my colleagues, as I did before I became Chapter President.
Sandy Lygren (2018)
Sandy served as the President while Susan McCourt was on leave for Fall 2018 semester.