1199 Honors Crouse Hospital Activist on International Women’s Day

March 20, 2012

On March 8, International Women’s Day, 1199SEIU hosted a celebration to honor the union’s women. Veronica Clanton, vice-chair of the service, maintenance, and clerical unit at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse, NY, was given the Audrey Smith Campbell Award.

What follows is a tribute to Veronica from Baschki Robertson, her Organizer:

Veronica Clanton is the kind of woman I have always wanted to be. She is a woman who is absolutely clear in her body, mind and soul that power gives up nothing without a fight: and fight we must. Veronica understands that those who hold power and control will always want more, and only through solidarity can we achieve a fair workplace, a fair paycheck, decent housing, and, as she says to me, “a level playing field”.

Veronica has been a longtime Delegate and activist. She has been on every negotiating committee since we organized the clerical unit. In the first clerical contract, Veronica played a key role by gathering all the disparate policies, procedures, and “rules” from all the clerical areas of the hospital. Needless to say, each department was operating under its own set of “rules”, none of them consistent with the next. Despite many a long night bargaining, she is the first one back in the shop (looking beautiful and lovely as always) the next morning with newsletters, stickers and a negotiations update for the members.

As a Delegate, Veronica mentors our younger members to be sure they understand the role of the Union, the importance of the contract, and the importance of getting involved in the Union’s social justice mission. Even when a member has made poor choices which get them into a disciplinary situation, Veronica always believes they can do better, and she will offer them whatever support they need to avoid further discipline. Veronica’s support, strength, and steadfast belief in the value of all people has brought up Delegates and new activists, and filled more than few seats on our bus trips! She is critical to our social justice message within our Syracuse shops.After a day of both Union work and her regular work as a patient access representative, Veronica is not done. She is always off to a church or community event. Whether it is coordinating the expansive African-American History month events at Crouse Hospital, or working with her church and community groups, Veronica brings her belief in the dignity and value of humanity. Despite the very hard times in which we live, Veronica never seems to give up. I could not blame anyone who became overwhelmed with the economic and social difficulties workers face today, but Veronica just keeps fighting. She is like that tree beside the water: she will not be moved from her mission. The river may run dry, and the banks may erode, but Veronica will still be there demanding social and economic justice.

What I admire the most about Veronica is that despite the daily indignities she lived through growing up in Alabama during the civil rights movement, she has never lost her faith in the essential goodness of all humanity. She lives that faith every day, and often reminds me to keep the faith. Just recently at an African –American History month event, Veronica said to the audience, “Remember, the path is not yours, God has put you on the path.” I am so glad that God put Veronica a path which has intersected mine in this very short time we have on Earth, because I am the richer for having known and worked with her.