One of the biggest difficulties that union members face is that people don’t understand who we really are, says Mark Fuller of Kansas City, MO. “People don’t realize that we’re their neighbors, we’re in the car behind them picking up our kids at the same schools, we buy groceries at the same place,” says Mark.
“It’s because we don’t tell our story enough. In fact we don’t tell it at all. But we can’t tell our story if we don’t know it ourselves.”
The need for a labor-based education led Mark, an International Association of Fire Fighter (IAFF) Master HazMat trainer, to complete a degree in Labor Education and Labor Safety and Health from National Labor College.
“I needed a labor-based education. NLC more than met my needs and introduced me to the broader organized labor movement,” says Mark, who says that he’s using his lifetime of learning to do his current job as the IAFF 2nd District State Field Service Representative (DSFR). Mark gives credit to his NLC degree for helping him to become a DSFR.
I never imagined I’d be a state field rep– it was not even on my radar. NLC took me above where I thought I could go.
Union Sticker More than Just a Label
Mark came to the fire service in 1989 after being a paramedic since 1984. Having come from a non-union family, Mark remembers not understanding why he should join the fire fighter’s union and incorrectly thinking of the iconic IAFF union sticker as being a fire industry sticker. “That symbol has an entirely different meaning to it now,” says Mark.
Mark’s advice to his IAFF brother and sisters: “Get off the fence and go to school. It will be one of the most career-enhancing things that you can do. You need your fire knowledge and labor-based knowledge so you can step forward and fight the good fight.”
We all have good, hardworking union brothers and sister that need to step forward to do their jobs and be leaders, says Mark.
NLC is one of the best places you can go to expand that knowledge.