NATCA Scholarship Winner Zoe Frank’s Essay: “Strength in Numbers”
Every year, NATCA offers a scholarship program for spouses, children, stepchildren, and legally adopted children of active, retired, and deceased members in good standing for at least two consecutive years. This scholarship is for full-time attendance at accredited colleges and universities within the United States and its territories for an undergraduate degree program.
Unions empower people to negotiate together and advocate for better conditions and policies on local, state and national levels, working to achieve a brighter future for everyone. For 2022, students were asked to write in response to the prompt: “What is the difference between a group of people advocating for a cause versus one person speaking up for something they feel strongly about?”
Zoe Frank, child of Jaimee and Kevin Frank (both NATCA members from Minneapolis Center, ZMP) is among this year’s 20 winners of a $1,000 scholarship. Read the essay that Zoe submitted below.
Strength in numbers is seen in so many different aspects of our world. One example of this is ants. They cannot accomplish very much on their own, but as a group, they can provide for an entire colony. It is a similar story for NATCA employees. A group of people can advocate more successfully and work more efficiently towards a cause in comparison to an individual.
Over the past couple of years, I have learned about the strength of one’s voice to prompt change in their community, and the power a community has to create change. Issues involving racism, gender inequality and LGBTQ+ rights have recently dominated the media, and each one shows a group of people fighting for their cause together. While various protests and events may have been started by an individual, they gain traction and get closer to their end goal when more people are involved. It takes only one person to speak up for what they feel strongly about, but it takes an entire group to work towards and achieve change.
Union employees, such as those who are represented by NATCA, also work better as a group to advocate for change. Employees at NATCA get many benefits. For example, they recently implemented a Parental Paid Leave (PPL) period, in which the employee gets up to twelve weeks of paid leave after the birth or adoption of their child. They also work to help those who have lost their medical clearance to find available work within the building, as defined by Article 45 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. My mom went through this process when she lost her medical clearance due to breast cancer treatment last winter. Rather than placing her on unpaid leave for an extended period of time, local NATCA representatives helped her find a job in their training department, allowing her to still work in the building, despite having gone through treatment for her cancer.
These benefits and policies were not implemented overnight, and most likely would not be possible without the advocacy from multiple employees. When I was born, there was no such thing as PPL. If Article 45 didn’t exist, my mom would have had to stop working while she underwent cancer treatment. Numerous employees saw these problems and decided that NATCA would need to implement some changes in order to provide their employees with safe and favorable working conditions, and as a union, NATCA worked with their employees to bring about these better conditions.
Sometimes working as an individual has its benefits, but other times it is better to work as a collective team. By working in a group, there are more voices to advocate for change, and they are more likely to be successful in reaching their end goal.