The following is an open letter from Hana Foote regarding the current state of CSEA:
Greetings my AEU siblings,
It's with great sadness that I submit my letter of resignation. This was a decision I never thought I would have to make.
When I was hired on permanently, CSEA was a place of comradery, laughter and love. It was family.
Many of you know my history at CSEA. My mom was the EA to the Executive Director and retired after 35 years. She brought my aunt in because CSEA was such a great place. In that time the South Bay field office was connected to HQ and she was the field office secretary. CSEA saw and supported my aunt through her battle with a brain injury and when she couldn't work in her admin position, they cared enough to keep her on in a position in the print shop which she loved. CSEA brought my mom and Jody Bell together - friends on common ground who would become sisters and my mom named Jody my godmother when I came into the picture. The sisterhood encompassed the T&E coordinators Leslie Snow and Carolyn Ballard, Carla Mitchler whose position was absorbed by Leslie upon her retirement, Martha Toschi the EA to the President and the unofficial sister Frank Polito the Director of Communications. They understood the work, the dedication and the need to be there for each other. They were in the trenches together and always, no matter the title, had each other's backs.
CSEA was a passionate organization, fighting for the dignity of the worker - the underdog who was often overlooked. In those days, people stayed because they loved it and believed in it. This is what I signed up for and believed in.
A few years ago, CSEA started to feel like a corporation - staff was restricted from freely communicating with each other, long time staff started being pushed out for one reason or another, the isolation of Covid continued even though we were all in the office and worst of all when staff did speak up, they were disciplined for it. CSEA became what it had been fighting against for nearly 100 years - antiunion and antiworker.
What you may not see is my depression, anxiety and insomnia at an all-time high. My young kids who still want to be with and need their mother are met with impatience, agitation or absence. I found myself giving everything I had to my work only to realize I was killing myself for an organization that considered me expendable and would work me relentlessly for as long as they could - always wanting more. This is why I cannot fight with you and please accept my apology for not being strong enough.
My hope for you is to not work in fear. Keeping your head down, staying silent and just getting the work done is no way to spend the majority of your life if you're considering CSEA as your career.
My hope for you is to change the narrative. The Board and members are being told our skeleton staff is due to the great resignation, millennial job hoppers and a labor shortage.
My hope for you is to show CSEA how valuable you are. The Board and members are starting to feel it - they know something is not right but they don't know what it is.
The holiday luncheon is the biggest and loudest demonstration that could fall into your lap. Please don't waste the opportunity. Don't wait to be organized and told what to do by AEU - you need to organize yourselves. Spread the word yourselves and get bargaining unit members out of the building that day. The power lies with you - will you take it or will you give it up? The decision is yours.
I leave you with my favorite quote by activist Angela Davis "You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time."
I love you my siblings, I'm beyond blessed to have had the opportunity to know you and work with you.