AFSCME Stands With Its Sisters and Brothers Responding to Newtown Tragedy

by Pablo Ros  |  December 17, 2012

NewtownIn the wake of last week’s massacre in Newtown, Conn., AFSCME is standing with its sisters and brothers who responded to the emergency, providing both moral support and resources.

“It is excruciating to contemplate the grief that has descended on the families of those who have lost a cherished child or spouse,” said AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders, recalling that many of the town employees who responded when a gunman opened fire inside Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday morning are AFSCME members.

All 44 members of the Newtown Police Department are members of AFSCME Local 3153, Council 15. Town police dispatchers belong to AFSCME Local 1303-136, and public works employees to AFSCME Local 1303-200. Board of Education Nurses are members of AFSCME Local 1303-215, Council 4.

“In the aftermath of this tragedy, AFSCME members will be helping as our nation comes to terms with this tragedy and seeks to move forward,” Pres. Saunders said. “We will provide whatever assistance and support they need in the coming weeks and months.”

Jeffrey Matchett, executive director of AFSCME Council 15, the Connecticut Council of Police, said the council’s “thoughts and prayers go out to our courageous members who rushed to the scene and helped save the lives of countless potential victims. Their heroism will never be forgotten. We are proud to call them our brothers and sisters.”

Matchett said the council will provide health services to all members and their spouses to help them cope with the aftermath of the tragedy, and guidance in how to talk with their children about the event. He also said support meetings will be made available to all its members who have experienced the impact of the tragedy.

“These meetings will be open to any first responder and will be facilitated by various Council 15 police peer-support teams, firefighter peer-support teams, and other behavioral health professionals. We encourage all of our members to take part in at least one of these support meetings.”

In a letter posted on the website of AFSCME Council 4 -- which among its 35,000 members represents many state and local government employees in Connecticut -- Executive Director Sal Luciano said the council “mourns those who lost their lives and prays for the families who must piece together their lives in the aftermath of the mind-numbing violence that took place.”

He also thanked Newtown school teachers, administrators and staff, as well as first responders and town employees.

AFSCME is calling for commonsense and meaningful action on gun laws and ensuring access to services for the mentally ill. And we join efforts like those of the American Federation of Teachers, who in a letter to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, are urging him to veto Senate Bill 59, which would allow people to bring concealed firearms into schools, college dorms, churches, hospitals, bars and sports stadiums.

“Firearms have absolutely no place in our schools,” states the letter, signed by AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten and AFT Michigan Pres. David Hecker. “Permitting firearms in schools—visible or concealed—enables a dangerous set of circumstances... We should be doing everything we can to reduce the possibility of any gunfire in schools, and concentrate on ways to keep all guns off school property and ensure the safety of children and school employees.”

AFSCME has set up an online card to send notes of solidarity and sympathy to our sisters and brothers who are police officers, dispatchers, school nurses and public works employees in Newtown. You can sign the card here.

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