Pounding the Pavement to Make a Change

Volume CIX, No. 10October, 2009

Ethan Fein
Health Care Rally
Ethan Fein with Michael Lamb and Gina Strickland.

It takes work to make change. This summer, a crew of the Local 802 Power Boosters and I went on a bus to Washington D.C. to lobby Congress.

Our mission was to support the public option for health care as well as the Performance Rights Act.

While in Washington, we attended a rally and heard from a number of representatives and senators who support the health plan, including Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillebrand, Charles Rangel, Anthony Weiner, and others.

After the rally, we split up into different small groups and went to pay calls on various reps to lobby directly.

I am continuously surprised by how much I enjoy the different advocacy activities, including this all-day trip.

Before I go, I almost always anticipate that the effort will be worthwhile, but perhaps not exactly a day at the beach.

But the reality turns out to be more engaging, interesting, educational, and even entertaining than I ever expected.

What was particularly fun for me was that I met some classmates of mine from the Cornell University Union Leadership Institute course I took last year.

On the lawn where we were having lunch, I ran into Gina Strickland and Michael Lamb, both of whom are executive board members and staff reps of Local 1180 of the Communication Workers of America.

I also bumped into Joe Fontano of Local 338 of the foodworkers’ union.

Seeing them again reminded me of how much I enjoyed attending the course at Cornell.

Our class became somewhat famous at Cornell for how much we all bonded and became remarkably good friends after a relatively short time.

As I write this sentence, I have trouble believing that whenever I see any of these people it’s as if I have reconnected with lifelong friends, but that’s exactly what happens. We pick up just where we left off.

The trip was well-organized. Paul Molloy, our public relations and political action director, did a great job coordinating the details of the trip with the other unions. We had clear directions and maps to help us with the lobbying. Different union groups were assigned to different congressional office buildings. Lunch was provided.

Going to Washington placed the feelings of good will and gratification at being able to try to make a better world front and center in my consciousness. I recommend becoming more active to everyone, and hope that people will contact me and sign up for the Power Boosters for future initiatives.

For more information on the Power Boosters, e-mail me at