by Jon Melegrito | August 27, 2012
Andy Josephson (center) meets up with ASEA/AFSCME Local 52 members as they prepare to go street canvassing in Anchorage. From left: Linda Gerber, Chuck Stewart, Sam Rhodes, Tracy Speier, Lynnette Barkowski and George Zuke. (Photo courtesy of ASEA/AFSCME Local 52)
In the past few weeks, AFSCME members in Anchorage, Alaska, rallied behind Statehouse candidate Andy Josephson, who vowed to bring “new energy to a new district.” But before he officially declared his bid to represent the 132,000 residents of Midtown District 15, not many knew that this 48-year-old lawyer and former teacher is also the grandson of Arnold Zander, the first president of AFSCME.
“In a way, I’ve come full circle,” Josephson says in a TV interview about his first political campaign, noting proudly that his grandfather was the iconic union leader, his father a former Alaska state legislator and his mother a former aide to a U.S. senator from Wisconsin. “My roots comingled together to form some of my values. They all played an important factor in my decision to seek public office.”
In 1932, Zander formed the Wisconsin State Employees Association (WSEA), which would later become AFSCME after it was granted a charter by then American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1936. The efforts of Zander in forming our union was a historic step in ensuring that American public services are governed by civil service systems, not a politician-driven “spoils system” to benefit their supporters.
Members of Alaska State Employees Association (ASEA)/AFSCME Local 52 unanimously endorsed Josephson’s candidacy this month. Local 52 is comprised of state technical, professional and clerical personnel, which includes accounting technicians, social workers, engineering assistants and safety officers. In addition, city and borough employees that help the residents of Sitka and Fairbanks are part of Local 52.
AFSCME members are determined to help Josephson and other pro-worker candidates win so they can retake the House.
“Our collective bargaining rights and retirement security as public service workers are under attack,” says Tracy Speier, a health and social services planner and a member of ASEA/AFSCME Local 52. “Andy stands with us on these issues. We need a strong voice in Juneau who will fight for working families.”