After serving for 25 years as President and Vice President of Local 34, I stepped down as an officer in December 2001. In my resignation letter, I wrote: “Be diligent and strengthen your solidarity. AFSCME Local 34 has long played a leadership role in AFSCME and I have no doubt, that if you remain resolute and attentive, and if you continue to fight for what you know is right, AFSCME Local 34 will remain strong and vibrant in the future. Hold steadfast to your convictions and your beliefs and don’t ever let anyone tell you it can’t be done. Don’t ever compromise your principles.”
Still desiring to play an active role in the union, I had advocated for our local to start a Local 34 website. We had discussed it as a local but no one had stepped forward to express an interest in getting it off the ground. In 2002, I volunteered to do what I could to get it started. Knowing nothing about web development, HTML or even the basics I plodded forward as best I could. We secured a domain name and Local 34 purchased a computer and the software I needed to get started. My first recollection of an actual web page going up was in April 2002.
Believe it or not, the website even had a humor section – something all of us could use a little more of nowadays. Here was a public employee story: A guy stopped at a local gas station and, after filling his tank, he paid the bill and bought a soft drink. He stood by his car to drink his cola and watched a couple of men working along the roadside. One man would dig a hole two or three feet deep and then move on. The other man came along behind him and filled in the hole. While one was digging a new hole, the other was 25 feet behind filling in the hole. The men worked right past the guy with the soft drink and went on down the road.
“I can’t stand this,” said the man tossing the can into a trash container and heading down the road toward the men.
“Hold it, hold it,” he said to the men. “Can you tell me what’s going on here with all this digging and refilling?”
“Well, we work for the government and we’re just doing our job,” one of the men said. “But one of you is digging a hole and the other fills it up. You’re not accomplishing anything. Aren’t you wasting the taxpayers’ money?”
“You don’t understand, mister,” one of the men said, leaning on his shovel and wiping his brow. “Normally there’s three of us: me, Elmer and Leroy. I dig the hole, Elmer sticks in the tree and Leroy, here, puts the dirt back. Now just because Elmer’s sick, that don’t mean that Leroy and me can’t work.”
Anyway, I retired from the county in May 2017 (after 45 years) and have continued to develop the website in the interim until this new site was created. It has been an honor and a pleasure for me to have served Local 34 in this capacity for the last 15 years – thank you for the opportunity! I think the site has improved over time… at least I hope so. I never did become a “web developer” or learn HTML but hopefully I was able to contribute to the union in a positive way.
In the words of Paul Wellstone: “The future will not belong to those who sit on the sidelines. The future will not belong to the cynics. The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
My best to all of you. Stay strong!