We Rise to the Challenge
NDU members will not falter in the face of coming threats
The trouble with writing a column for a print magazine like United Voices is that our world moves so fast that what I write today may not be as relevant when it is finally read. So, as I write this on Dec. 1, 2017, the Senate is poised to pass a disgraceful tax reform bill that is horrible for higher education, horrible for public employees, horrible for K-12 teachers, and horrible for the entire middle class of North Dakota.
I could spend the bulk of this article telling you how wrong it is to tax graduate students; how wrong it is to disallow the state and local tax (SALT) deduction that so many middle income Americans utilize; how wrong it is to eliminate the $250 tax deduction for teachers who spend their own money on classroom supplies; how wrong it is to deny healthcare to 13 million Americans; and how wrong it is to ensure that by 2027, families making $40,000 to $50,000 will be paying a combined $5.3 billion more in taxes, while the those making more than $1 million will pay $5.8 billion less. And I could tell you how wrong it is that this all is happening faster than the “regular order,” for what is supposed to be our nation’s most deliberate body. It is happening without one Senate hearing, without one expert testifying and without anyone actually reading the entire bill.
But, as I’ve said, this will all be old news by the time you read it. What will not be old news is that every constituency group in our ND United family will face serious challenges in the months ahead. Some will be external challenges, and some will be internal challenges.
As I see it, the most prominent external challenges will be:
- A negative ruling in the Janus v. AFSCME case in the Supreme Court. The expected ruling in Janus will be a serious setback for public sector unions, and undermine the strength of working people here and across the country.
- A legislative session in 2019 that likely will include attacks on our ability to negotiate contracts.
- A legislative session in 2019 that, unless there is an unforeseen and significant improvement in revenues, will feature more cuts to vital services and the employees that provide them.
- An election in 2018 that will have serious consequences for all of us if we don’t elect champions of public education and public service.
In my view, our most significant internal challenges are related to the external challenges:
- Pivoting from identifying the challenges in our locals and chapters to realizing the solutions to those challenges.
- Building the capacity to organize and take action in our locals and chapters.
- Developing the next generation of leaders in our locals and increasing our member activism.
- Growing ND United in both numbers and influence.
To solve these challenges, we are going to need your help and we are going to have to work together. To that end, right after the first of the year, NDU Executive Director Chad Oban, select staff and I will be hosting a series of meetings on our 2018 Listening Tour across the state. I fully expect to hear your thoughts on the challenges I’ve outlined above as well as on a variety of matters you bring to the table.
From you we want to collect as much data as possible. This information will help to form our collective vision and inform our actions on your behalf. We have already let the local and chapter leaders know when we will be in their communities, and we will announce the Listening Tour schedule soon after the holidays, once we’ve arranged for all the venues, so please watch for it on our website, www.ndunited.org!
A wise person once said that if we don’t rise together, we will fall apart. Well, we are not going to fall apart, not as long as we remain committed to the principles that have made our organization strong. We work together, we help each other, we care about our neighbors and our communities, and we don’t quit!
YOU are NDU, and I wish you all a very happy holiday season!