Forums Provide Face Time with Legislators

Next Forum is Scheduled for Feb. 7 in Nashua

The All In to Win campaign that SEA councilors adopted last summer didn’t end with the fall elections. Members continue fighting for the 99 percent by reaching out to lawmakers here and in Washington. And as SEA members who attended a recent forum with Lakes Region legislators will tell you, that personal contact is very important.

SEA members listen during a legislators forum on Jan. 8 in Laconia.

Tom Wainwright, an SEA steward and cartographer for the Department of Safety, said emails can just get lost in the shuffle. Not so with meeting face to face.

“Lawmakers can kind of put the name and the face together, rather than just meeting in a big crowd,” he said. “So when we start to give our opinions or discuss certain issues, they’re going to have more of an inclination to listen.”

That was one of the ideas behind a series of legislative forums, the first of which was held Jan. 8 in Laconia. These forums are organized through regional Local Strength Teams, and the event in Laconia drew three local lawmakers and 11 SEA members, including Wainwright.

The hope is the turnout will be much greater for the next forum, set for Thursday, Feb. 7 in Nashua. That event is at 6 p.m. in Room 150 at Nashua Community College, 505 Amherst St., Nashua. Attendees are asked to RSVP with Field Representative Andy Capen.

A suggestion Wainwright offered to increase participation was to open up the forums to other labor groups, and that’s the case with the Nashua event, which is co-hosted by the Nashua Teachers Association.

“It gets more people there, and legislators would make more of a point to come if they know there will be 25, 50 people there,” Wainwright said.

Thea Aloise, a retiree member of the SEA, said she wished more had attended the event because having more in attendance helps drive home the importance of issues.

“The representatives have got to hear from the union members, and it can’t be from just a few,” she said. “They aren’t going to get a good impression from just a few.”

Wainwright said the event was a good opportunity to make sure lawmakers realize that all decisions they make have an impact.

“One of the things I talked to them about was how the last budget cycle is affecting everyone I work with,” Wainwright said. “Basically, letting them know that their actions are affecting a lot of people.”

Magnus Pardoe, the SEA chapter president at Nashua Community College and member of the Nashua Local Strength Team, said a similar event held last year drew around 150, and he encouraged union members to come out and continue with the All in to Win campaign.

“The more people that come, the more the legislators are going to listen,” Pardoe said.

“If you want to make an impact, you’ve got to get in front of the legislators one-on-one,” he said. “If not, the message is going to get diluted or ignored.

The Nashua Local Strength Team will be holding a pre-forum meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 23 to make phone calls to encourage attendance at the forum. That meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. at 547 Amherst St., Nashua, in the 2nd floor office of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. Food will be provided, and attendees are asked to RSVP with Field Representative Andy Capen.

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