I am not from a union background. While my father was a member of a union for a brief time, my memories of his career are from the management side of the desk. The same for my mother. Further, most of my relatives were farmers or independent business owners/employees. I share this information as validation of my unfamiliarity with union processes and purpose—and also as the core of one of my challenges in running for the NYS Assembly in the 147th.
Unions are a significant part of life in this community. They have served as the backbone of many of the industries that established and developed WNY. They are also strong lobbyists in the political realm.
As I have established my campaign, I have been invited by many unions to apply for their endorsement. This endorsement process involves answering a questionnaire, ranging anywhere from 2 to 6 pages, addressing the issues of each specific union. With each issue there are related questions asking where I will stand on such issues when elected to the assembly.
The hardest part of answering such questionnaires is having the complete knowledge of each issue and trying to reasonably answer from my non-union perspective. In some cases, it’s easy, as in the nurses’ unions, where I have had experience with aging family members in hospital settings and understand the challenges that nurses face.
However when it comes to unions involved in industries with which I am not familiar, their questionnaires are more challenging, to the point that I have taken a step back from the tried and true political process of seeking union endorsements and am trying a new tact.
I have decided that when my unfamiliarity with a union makes it challenging for me to competently answer their questionnaire, I will decline participating in their endorsement process. Instead, I will request a meeting with the union so that we can sit and talk…people to people. That way I can learn about their members and their issues and concerns, and they can get to know and understand me and my perspectives and how I will serve them, as their assemblywoman.
My first such meeting is next week. I look forward to this chance to go beyond the traditional ”surface” endorsement process and forge a meaningful and stronger relationship. It’s the core of my candidacy and the way I will serve when elected, with a focus on communicating with and understanding the needs of all of my constituents in the 147th district.
A NEW FACE…
A NEW VOICE…
A NEW ABTITUDE