Hello, and welcome back!
I hope this message finds each of you well as we transition from a beautiful summer to what I hope will be a glorious autumn. This time of year is one of my favorites because the summer memories are still fresh in my mind and I can look forward to doing the work that I am passionate about: advocating for the members of North Dakota United and the people who benefit from our good work.
Whatever your job title, I hope that your summer was restful and restorative. Goodness knows you will need every ounce of energy you can muster to continue to provide our students and the good people of North Dakota with the vital education, support and services they need to thrive. To be sure, we will face many challenges between now and next fall. But I honestly believe that we will have many opportunities, as well.
So, let’s talk about a few of those challenges. If you haven’t yet noticed that we are in the middle of an intense election season, allow me to be the first to welcome you back to Earth.
The U.S. Senate race, due to its national importance, continues to attract attention and millions of advertising dollars to North Dakota. The U.S. House race, too, has garnered much attention.
But as Thomas “Tip” O’Neill once said, “All politics is local.”
Elsewhere on our website, you will find a list of the candidates that your fellow members, your ND United Political Action Committee (UPAC), and the NDU Board of Directors have decided are worthy of our support. These candidates have been vetted and their records examined to be sure that they will be supportive voices of reason as our issues are debated in our state Legislature. If we are to be successful, my friends, then we are going to have to work as hard as we can to ensure that we elect as many like-minded men and women as possible. This is not a Democrat thing or a Republican thing. This is a “who can I trust to vote in my best interest” thing.
And we will need every friend we can get during the 66th Legislative Assembly, which is scheduled to begin on Jan. 3, 2019. No matter what job you do – university faculty, education or higher ed support professional, K-12 teacher, or any of the other important positions at the municipal, county, or state level – you know the landscape. You have had to work harder, with fewer colleagues, and for less salary over the course of these past few years. Unfortunately, there is no indication that things will get better without our involvement. In fact, there are indications that things could be worse.
For example, there is a bill already in the hopper that would mandate that NDPERS offer only a single health insurance plan to state employees. If this were to pass – and we will fight like hell to see that it doesn’t – those NDU members who receive health insurance through PERS will have to pay the extra cost for a family plan out of their own pockets. And this after going two years without a raise. This is not sound public policy; this is just plain mean-spirited.
So, the challenges include a very tough upcoming legislative session. But I mentioned that I saw opportunities, as well as challenges.
The biggest opportunity that I see is you! You and all the members of North Dakota United.
You see, our superpower is that we have each other. Our strength is our ability to unite around our shared principles. Our path forward is through our union and our ability to connect with North Dakotans across the state.
To be successful, we must out-work, out-organize, and ultimately, out-vote those whose stilted vision has damaged our institutions and made our work more difficult.
We must commit to work toward a brighter future for all public employees.
We must commit to taking shifts knocking doors for ND United-endorsed candidates.
We must commit to taking shifts on the phone banks in support of our candidates.
We must commit to having conversations with our neighbors over the fence, over a cup of coffee or over a beer. Let them know that what you do is important and that our communities will suffer if we don’t elect people who understand that we will never cut our way to prosperity. Only through investing in our public schools, our great universities and our public workforce will North Dakota be able to maintain its reputation as a great place for people to come to work and raise their families.
All of us at North Dakota United make an incredible difference in the lives of our neighbors through our work, and the public appreciates us for it. Now we can make an equally positive difference in their Legislature. We cannot let this opportunity pass us by. This is a truly historic election. There is much at stake. Please do not let it pass without doing everything you can to bend the arc of history just a bit more toward justice.
Thank you for your work, and thank you for your membership in North Dakota United!