Some days over the course of these last six months, many of us would have liked to take social distancing to the extreme and get lost for a few days. Other times, we have wanted to gather our loved ones close and never let them go. To be sure, the tumultuous times in which we live have elicited a wide range of emotions and reactions.

And no wonder! Our lives and routines have been upended, and we have had to adjust, often on the fly, to changes in just about every aspect of our lives. The onset of the pandemic forced us to rethink how we interacted with our families, our friends, those with whom we work, and just as importantly, how we do our work.

Teachers, higher education faculty and their professional support staffs had to develop and implement distance-learning protocols and practices that allowed students to continue their academic plans uninterrupted. Non-education public employees had to develop practices from home that allowed them to continue to provide the vital services that North Dakotans deserve and have come to rely upon. None of these shifts were easy, but our members undertook the effort with great resolve and were quite successful in achieving their goals.

Through it all, our members could depend on their union, North Dakota United, to be with them every step of the way. We represented our members’ interests in important meetings with Governor Doug Burgum’s team, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Chancellor of the ND University system, the ND State Board of Higher Education, and with school administrators and school board members. In these meetings we were able to clearly express the concerns of our members as well as report on the progress and importance of their work. And when it was necessary, we worked with our members to organize meetings between them and those whose decisions impact their work lives.

To be sure, we are nowhere near the end of the travails we have endured these several months. Until there is a vaccine for the Coronavirus, our work lives will continue to evolve, and our communities will continue to need the services we provide remotely or otherwise. Your union will continue to be here for you, as well. We will be your voice wherever your voice needs to be heard. I can assure you that in the difficult days ahead, we will not rest in our efforts to advocate for you.

Finally, we hear often in North Dakota from those opposed to mask-wearing about their rights. And that’s fine, I guess, but I prefer to focus on our obligations to each other.

 

Nick Archuleta

ND United President