Too Many Workplace Injuries Go Unreported. You Can Help Us Fix That

October 01, 2014

Too Many Workplace Injuries Go Unreported. You Can Help Us Fix That

Workers who suffer injuries on the job too often fail to report it because they worry their employer will retaliate. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing to make it a violation for an employer to discourage employee reporting of workplace injuries. You can help us make that happen, but we need to know ASAP!

The fear of employer retaliation for reporting workplace injuries is well-founded. Also, some employers have policies that discourage reporting of injuries. OSHA recognizes the problem and wants to make it easier for workers to report such injuries, free of worry that it may lead to bad consequences. As part of its rulemaking process, the agency is seeking public comments.

AFSCME wants to help OSHA accomplish its rulemaking goal, so we are asking for your help. If any AFSCME member has experienced a threat of retaliation for reporting a workplace injury, or has actually experienced employer disciplining, threatening, demoting or taking other retaliatory action for reporting an injury on the job, we want to hear from you as soon as possible.

Please send us an email detailing your experience so we may offer it into evidence. No names will be used to protect your privacy. If your employer has a written policy that punishes workers for reporting injuries, please send that to us as well. Please email the information to no later than Oct. 10.

Walker Not ‘Bringing On’ Jobs

by Dave Kreisman  |  September 30, 2014

Walker Not ‘Bringing On’ Jobs While just a few months ago Wisconsin found a $1 billion surplus, Walker since somehow found a place big enough to dig a $1.8 billion deficit.

Economists track Wisconsin’s Failure to Recover

MADISON, Wisconsin – Gov. Scott Walker said “bring it on” when Politifact said it would track his promise to add 250,000 private-sector jobs in his first four-year term.

Walker threatened to add his own counter, but we haven’t heard much from him about job creation. The Politifact track is setting the record straight.

As of Sept. 18, economists at Politifact say, Walker is guilty of a “broken promise.” He’s up to 40 percent of his promise, with 102,195 jobs created, but Wisconsin ranks 35th in the nation as far as job growth, and dead last in the Midwest.

From January 2014 to August 2014, Walker’s so-called “reforms” produced a paltry 8,800 new private-sector jobs. That is hardly a comeback, or proof that his radical agenda did anything to grow Wisconsin’s economy. 

While just a few months ago Wisconsin found a $1 billion surplus, Walker since somehow found a place big enough to dig a $1.8 billion deficit.

No amount of spin can change dead last and a $1.8 billion deficit into anything more than a giant hole in the ground.

Boehner’s Goals Are Not Your Goals

by Clyde Weiss  |  September 30, 2014

Boehner’s Goals Are Not Your Goals It’s the same old playbook, rolled out yet again by House Speaker John Boehner. (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

It’s the same old playbook, rolled out yet again by House Speaker John Boehner. Reduce government, cut taxes on the wealthiest, limit regulations and lawsuits on businesses, and abandon public schools. Apparently word hasn’t sunk in to certain parts of Congress that these same old priorities won’t wash.

There are many reasons why the plan is off the mark for most Americans. Here are just a few:

Nowhere does Boehner address the need for Americans to have enough food to feed their families, to have a job to pay the bills, to have affordable health care coverage or an assurance of a decent retirement. These are America’s real priorities.

Boehner and other extremists in the House of Representatives need to hear from real working class Americans, not just corporate CEOs and the ultra-rich. The midterm election is the ideal time to send a message. Make sure you’re registered and ready to vote on the priorities of working families. Learn more here.

Prosecutor Says Governor Wants ‘Special Favors’

by Eli Magaña  |  September 30, 2014

Prosecutor Says Governor Wants ‘Special Favors’ Gov. Rick Perry is “making a mockery” of the Texas’ justice system, said the special prosecutor overseeing the state’s abuse-of-power case against Perry. (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

AUSTIN, Texas – Gov. Rick Perry is “making a mockery” of the Texas’ justice system and is seeking “special favors” by asking to skip an upcoming pretrial hearing, said the special prosecutor overseeing the state’s abuse-of-power case against Perry.

“I don’t think there’s any reason why Mr. Perry should be treated any different from any other citizen who’s required to be in court,” stated Michael McCrum, the state’s prosecutor. “He’s asking for special favors, and as far as I’m concerned, he’s not entitled to it.”

Lawyers for Perry, who is currently under indictment for allegedly attempting to use his authority to force a state official to resign, asked the judge to excuse him from an Oct. 13 pretrial because the governor is expected to be in Europe on business during that period.

“It’s clear that the governor is trying to evade responsibility,” stated Thomas Jones, vice-president of AFSCME Local 3807. “Even as a career politician, Perry has consistently shown a track record for sidestepping important issues, including health care, education and prison reform.” 

Workers Take to the Streets to Protect the Environment

by Kevin Hanes  |  September 30, 2014

Workers Take to the Streets to Protect the Environment AFSCME members, especially those of DC 37 and CSEA Local 1000, are uniquely able to discuss the impact of severe storms, such as that of Hurricane Sandy that struck New York City in 2012.

NEW YORK CITY – Members of AFSCME District Council 37 joined with thousands of other concerned neighbors to demand a global climate agreement. Just two days before President Obama and other world leaders came together for an emergency Climate Summit, a broad-based coalition of community, faith and labor activists marched on the United Nations to ask world leaders to take swift and decisive action.

AFSCME members, especially those of DC 37 and CSEA Local 1000, are uniquely able to discuss the impact of severe storms, such as that of Hurricane Sandy that struck New York City in 2012. In the lead up to, during and in the aftermath of the storm it was all-hands-on-deck for many AFSCME members – from FDNY EMS workers racing to save lives to 911 operators answering the call for help, and from school cafeteria workers moving out of their own homes into shelters to feed the homeless to sewage treatment workers battling the rising waters and saving lives.

“If anyone ever doubted that there is a climate crisis, Superstorm Sandy of 2012 offered definitive proof that the climate crisis is here,” said DC 37 Executive Director and International Vice President Lillian Roberts. “Now, we must work to prevent climate catastrophes. The leaders of the world need to come together to address this crisis with the seriousness that it deserves. We need real solutions – not just talk.”

The People’s Climate March was the largest demonstration for climate action in history. More than 800 organizations from around the world supported the march, from the largest transit workers union in New York City to a coalition of Buddhist monks. In total, the groups represent roughly 100 million people worldwide.

Climate negotiators will head to Lima, Peru, in December 2014 to work towards a global climate deal. Then, in September 2015 world leaders will meet back in New York to adopt a new development agenda called the Sustainable Development Goals. In December 2015, they will gather in Paris to try and sign a new international climate treaty.

Miami-Dade Library Employees Win Funding, Beat Mayor

by Omar Tewfik  |  September 25, 2014

Miami-Dade Library Employees Win Funding, Beat Mayor AFSCME Local 199 members deliver petitions to the library administration.

MIAMI – Miami-Dade library staff won a hard-fought victory Sept. 18 in a budget battle against a mayor who proposed drastic cuts to the public library system.

While backing multimillion-dollar giveaways to professional sports teams and large corporations, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez sought to balance the resulting $20 million budget shortfall by slashing funding for an award-winning library system. Had he won, those cuts would have closed nearly half of the county’s 49 branches, resulted in hundreds of full-time staff layoffs and left thousands of underserved residents without an essential resource.

But during the county’s final hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2014-2015 budget, commissioners voted 8 to 4 to stave off layoffs and prevent further cuts to the library’s budget, keeping the system fully funded through the next fiscal year.

“This is a huge win for our library system and for the patrons we serve every day,” said Ricci Yuhico, an AFSCME Local 199 member and cofounder of Community Advocates for Libraries in Miami (CALM).It did not happen overnight. It took hours and hours of organizing, working with our union, colleagues and community partners at late-night meetings, petitioning our elected officials, standing up to intimidation and rallying broad community support.”

Before they could mount a public challenge to the mayor’s budget, Yuhico, fellow Local 199 members and their coworkers in the library system overcame several obstacles in the workplace, tackling fear of retaliation among colleagues for fighting back. Library employees circulated a petition among their colleagues and garnered an overwhelming majority of signatures from everyone in the system demanding answers from the library administration for acquiescing to the cuts.

“This win is a testament to what can be accomplished if we come together in numbers as a union, empower our coworkers by educating them about their rights, and fight back,” said Local 199 member and Library Assistant 3 Philip MacAdams.

 “We put up a fight that the mayor and county commissioners could not ignore and we will continue to fight for the funding our communities need and deserve,” said Yuhico.  

Google, Facebook, Yelp Abandon ALEC

by Joye Barksdale  |  September 24, 2014

Google, Facebook, Yelp Abandon ALEC

If you Google “companies that have cut ties with ALEC,” you’ll find…Google.

AFSCME was one of 50 organizations that earlier this month urged the Internet giant to stop funding ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a vehicle for corporate members to lobby state lawmakers. ALEC is well-known for developing cookie-cutter bills that lawmakers introduce in their states.

The legislation typically supports corporate tax cuts; opposes workers’ rights, collective bargaining and regulations that protect the workplace and the environment; and denies climate change. Whatever the focus, the bottom line of the bills is the same: They advance a corporate agenda at the expense of working people.

Erick Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, announced the decision this week. He said in an interview on The Diane Rehm Show that ALEC was “literally lying” about climate change. That, he said, led to Google’s decision.  He said it was a mistake for Google to have gotten involved with ALEC at all. The company will not renew its membership at the end of the year.

With this decision, Google joins a growing list of companies that are backing away from ALEC, including Coca-Cola, CVS, General Motors, Kraft, McDonald’s and Microsoft. Even the oil company Occidental Petroleum has cut ties with ALEC. And just this week, one of the latest to indicate it would leave is Facebook, the global social media giant, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle. Yelp, an online referral service, also reportedly is abandoning ALEC, as is Yahoo.

As of this month, 86 corporations and 19 nonprofits made that choice.

Lisa Nelson, ALEC’s chief executive, said Google cut ties with ALEC “as a result of public pressure” from several organizations. AFSCME is proud to be one of them.

Heroic Bus Driver Dies Saving Student

by David Patterson  |  September 23, 2014

Heroic Bus Driver Dies Saving Student Laura Zborowski and her son.

AKRON, Ohio – Laura Zborowski, an Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) union member and bus driver was killed Sept. 16 after pushing a 10-year-old student out of the way of a bus rolling backwards during an emergency evacuation drill. Zborowski was struck and run over by the bus. Parents, students and the community are hailing her as a hero.

"She sacrificed her own life to save the life of this 10-year-old girl," said Akron police Lt. Rick Edwards. Long-time neighbor Steven Mikel said he's not surprised by her heroism and said she loved her job as a bus driver and the children she drove.

“She was a nice lady," said one student.  “She'd bring me home safely; she brought me to school safely."

Zborowski was a member of Local 113 and served on the organizing committee for drivers working for the recently unionized, private bus company Petermann. She was instrumental in making AFSCME its exclusive representative. She was 51 years old and leaves a 12-year-old son.

"Laura Zborowski is a true hero. She sacrificed her own life to save a little girl in her charge," said Joe Rugola, executive director of OAPSE and an AFSCME International vice president. "The entire OAPSE family honors Laura's selfless act and her example of dedication and service. We will remember her for her courage and her sacrifice but also for the work she did every day to keep her students safe on the ride to and from school."

More information will be available soon about how to donate to Laura's memory.

Are You Ready for Election Day?

by Olivia Sandbothe  |  September 23, 2014

Are You Ready for Election Day?

Today is National Voter Registration Day.  If you’re not already registered to vote or if you need to update your registration, take some time today! The AFL-CIO set up a new online tool that makes it easy. The site will also help you vote by mail and send you text message reminders on Election Day.

If you moved or changed your name since the last election, you need to update your registration.  And in many states, you need to make the changes at least a month before Election Day. But don’t delay! Do it today!

Right now, working people are under attack like never before.  If we don’t get to the polls and change the leadership in Washington and in our state capitols, things will only get worse.  If we don’t want another Congress seeking to cut Social Security and Medicare, or more of the Koch brothers’ cronies in governors’ offices cutting public services, we have to take action on Nov. 4.

Four years ago, not enough of us turned out to vote and we let the tea-party extremists push the agenda in the states and Washington. This year, we know the stakes are too high to sit back and let others decide the course for our government.

Please share the link above and talk to your coworkers and friends about why the midterm elections are so important to working people. For the Next Wavers among us, get on the bandwagon and Rock the Vote. And share on Facebook and Twitter #CelebrateNVRD.

AFSCME Partners with Thurgood Marshall College Fund

September 22, 2014

AFSCME Partners with Thurgood Marshall College Fund

WASHINGTON, DC ─ The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO, the nation's largest public service workers union, announced today a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) in its Union Scholars Program to provide educational opportunities and scholarships to talented students of color from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other colleges and universities.

"Our commitment to students of color at historically black and other colleges and universities is unwavering," said AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders. "AFSCME's partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund enables us to continue a tradition of developing young leaders who are dedicated and passionate about making a difference in our society." 

"HBCUs have a history of educating minorities, which contributes to the diversity of today's workforce," said TMCF President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.  "The increased cost of college, along with stricter grant and loan payments, make gifts like this more important. AFSCME is demonstrating a commitment to improve education and build a pipeline for tomorrow's workforce."

Named for Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African American on the U.S. Supreme Court, TMCF is the only national organization providing scholarships and programmatic and capacity-building support to the 47 publicly supported HBCUs, medical schools and law schools. TMCF supports and represents nearly 300,000 students from its member schools, and awarded more than $200 million in financial assistance.

AFSCME launched its Union Scholars Program in 2003 and, since its inception, students from more than 40 institutions of higher learning participated. Students must be a second-semester sophomore or junior with a minimum 2.5 grade point average majoring in American Studies, Ethnic Studies, History, Labor Studies, Political Science, Psychology, Public Policy, Social Work, Sociology, Women's Studies and other fields of study.

The AFSCME Union Scholars Program provides students with an internship and the opportunity to earn money for college. They work on the frontlines of organizing campaigns, helping workers gain a voice on the job and better their lives for themselves and their families.

AFSCME has a long history of activism and a historic connection with civil rights. On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in Memphis, where he'd gone to support the 1,300 black sanitation workers of AFSCME Local 1733 in their strike for better pay, union recognition and respect.

Today, AFSCME represents 1.6 million members, including home care and child care workers, nurses, clerical workers, sanitation workers and countless others who work for cities, counties, states, the federal government and universities, non-profit agencies and private companies.  

TMCF was established in 1987 and through its scholarships and programs TMCF plays a key role in preparing the leaders of tomorrow.


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