Saturday, August 12, 2006

AFSCME: Day Three

(Sorry this is late. Day Four I could not tear myself away from the work we were doing, and Day Five was spent in travel, unfortunately, due to the government's fear of Chanel Lip Gloss. But here it is.)

Day Three of the AFSCME International Convention was full of business; we reviewed amendments and resolutions until 2pm. For the benefit of Deafies who don't know much about Union work (and I'd love to hear questions) these amendments and resolutions decide what AFSCME will do during the coming year(s). Some of them are changes to our constitution, like allowing retired Union members a non-voting position on the international board (we supported this and I think it's neat to have senior citizen participation and benefit from their wisdom.) Some of them are resolutions about what we will fight for in the coming year. The Amendment or Resolution is read, people have a chance to comment verbally (there's big cameras everywhere, and often people CHEER LIKE HELL when someone from their state, local or district speaks - there's a ton of energy in this room!), and then we all verbally vote Yea or Nay and either adopt, reject, or sometimes (like I did yesterday to the important education resolution) we add and change it in a friendly way to make it stronger.

The interpreter situation for the morning remained the same: me, sit, chair, monitor, Tiny Terp doing their things on screen and separated by five thousand people. I was glad it was only part of the day: so were the interpreters. They had no way to know if they were doing well without being able to see me, and I had no way to be an active listener and participate in the discussion without measures like I took the day before. Interpreting can and should be considered a two-way street: the interpreter works for both Deaf and Hearing alike. I really appreciated my Local - Lorraine and Cora and Eddie and the rest kept coming over to sit with me; I don't think they liked the idea of us not being a unit at all. I don't think I've ever felt this much of a team with hearing people before. (A tear came to my eye as I said that. Even tho we had communication problems the POV seemed to be I was part of the team and that was IT.)

During the day I was lucky enough to bump into a friend from NYC who I hadn't even realized was in Chicago or the Union, Efraim. We met when he rescued me from a torrential downpour in NY; now he turns up three or four tables away from me in Chicago as a delegate to the convention. Such is the river of life. Efraim is a great guy and invited me to go to the DC 37 dinner and enjoy myself; of course I said yes. Our District Council is 1707 and has a dinner tomorrow night but I was enjoying meeting lots of Union members from all over. The more they see me the more they get interpreters and Deaf people so I'm proud to spread awareness.

at a rally

After all the business (which was very exhausting and some of the ladies and gentlemen were trying hard not to be sleepy!) we grabbed a bus to join a rally of 5,000 at Resurrection Medical Center where workers are demanding the right to organize (not everywhere has or is allowed a Union; ) Then to Hilton Chicago for the DC 37 dinner (my god, some of the older ladies at this convention can seriously dance) and then home where I read another chapter of Robert Jordan's Knife of Dreams (just finished Ehrenreich's Bait and Switch which was great but depressing!) then passed out by 9 in order to wake up in time for the PEOPLE run-so nervous about this!

A note: I don't think I'll ever allow the monitor thing again, at least not in this fashion. My eyes were red and raw by the end of today, and hard like walnuts in my skull. Hearing people often don't understand: LISTENING is passive, LOOKING is active, and watching, reading and receiving ASL with the eyes is a lot more work than just sitting and listening. Listening is so passive hearing people even believe you can learn in your sleep. Plus, you really should be at least three-five feet away from the teevee, depending on its size. By the end of this convention I was honestly afraid I had damaged my eyes what with terps and monitors.

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