The Power of Advocacy!

Throughout my life I have always been fascinated with; leadership,  power…and the methods of operating the ‘levers of power’ for the good of humanity.

We see the great change that occurs in our society when one political party replaces another in the majority of the Senate and House of Representatives and the Executive Branch of our government.

For the last several years The Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, has been the healthcare plan of the nation.  As of today the House of Representatives has passed their Bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.  Certainly this is only the first step, as the Bill must be voted on by the Senate and signed by the President…but it passage exemplifies the transition of political power in our country.

Many years ago I first learned the power of advocacy.  Being a member of the Civil Service Staff at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Illinois, I first felt the power of advocacy when I began speaking with Chancellors and Presidents of the University on behalf of Civil Service Staff.

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As a member of the Civil Service Council, who are the elected representatives for Civil Service Staff, I was moved by the acceptance of a group, of primarily faculty, as I expressed my ideas concerning what type of Chancellor that our Campus needed… on a Chancellor Search Committee.

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When Chancellor Argersinger was chosen as the Permanent Chancellor of Southern Illinois University I was pleasantly surprised at how regularly she sought my counsel and opinion regarding not only Civil Service issues but also wider Campus concerns.

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After her untimely termination…I decided that I would run for the President of the Council

…in hopes of getting a seat at the table, and ‘Voice’ for Staff issues.

I had the pleasure of working with then Chancellor Wendler for the majority of my five year term.  Dr. Wendler and I had monthly conversations in his office where the subjects were wide ranging…colorful…and focused on benefiting Civil Service Staff.  Resulting from those discussions came:

Veteran’s Day as a recognized University Holiday-

More equitable Extended Sick Leave benefits for Civil Service Employees-

Pay increases for some of our lowest paid clerical staff-

Pay increases for Civil Service Staff during the course of the year, when meritorious performance was documented.

An increase in the Civil Service Employee of the Year Monetary Award, making it consistent with the Faculty Award-

The non-contracting out of Food Service Staff and pledge from the Chancellor that he would not Contract Out or Outsource any Full Time Civil Service Positions due to his recognition of the importance of Civil Service Jobs to the economy of Southern Illinois.

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And the list goes on.

I have found, for the past twenty plus years, that Campus Leaders want to hear the real concerns and views and needs of those…who only have the power of ‘Voice.’

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Recently I have communicated with both the Chancellor of SIU Carbondale and the President of the Southern Illinois University System.   Both are good men and communicate with me very honestly and in an expeditious manner.

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It is vital that we remain dedicated to not Outsourcing Civil Service Positions…even though we are in an abysmal budgetary mess due to the Illinois House and Senate and Governor refusing to compromise on a State Budget for the past two years.

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These positions are vital to the success of SIU Carbondale and the economic success of the entire Southern Illinois region.

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I have been extremely pleased with the current leadership of SIU’s Civil Service Council.  Tony Travelstead, the President of the group, and Elizabeth Cheek, the Vice President, have taken the mantel and burden of leadership of the Council…which is the primary advocate for the entire Civil Service Community…with a seriousness and zeal that is exemplary and illustrative of the professionals that they are.

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The entire Council is engaged and energized to speak for and advocate for their needy colleagues.

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