by Olivia Sandbothe | August 12, 2014
We asked AFSCME members to share their talent on stage at the 41st International Convention and the results were amazing.
The grand prize winner (the contestant who raised the most money overall, throughout the contest) was Jack Campbell, Local 1771 (Pennsylvania Council 13), who sang a song he composed called “Lifeline,” about “becoming united and being together as one.” Campbell, a member of the Local 1771 Executive Board, won two airline tickets anywhere in the contiguous United States.
The contest’s “PEOPLE’S Choice” winner (the contestant who raised the most PEOPLE contributions on the day of the finale) was Reuben Simmons, president of New York Local 814, Unit 6662, Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA)/AFSCME Local 1000. He won a two-night stay at a Hyatt or Hilton hotel anywhere in the contiguous United States.
The competition raised more than $14,000 for the PEOPLE fund.
When Simmons isn’t busy in his maintenance job with the City of Beacon, New York, he uses his musical talents to bring the union message to young people. He began rapping in 2010, when he was newly elected in his local and was becoming active in the Next Wave program.
“When I first got involved with CSEA, they sent me to the AFL-CIO Young Workers Summit in Washington, DC,” he says. “I started hearing about the challenges that young workers have and the importance of getting young people involved so that the union lasts.”
He continues, “I always felt that music motivates people, and especially the younger generation. Right now people aren’t hearing about the union. We built this country, but people, and especially young people, think that we’re dinosaurs or that we aren’t around anymore.”
Simmons says he worried at first that his union-flavored hip-hop was too corny, but after performing at conferences and conventions, he’s seen the positive influence it can have on people – even those who aren't in his target audience.
“I started doing it as a way to inspire younger workers and Next Wave members, but it touches the older generation too,” he says.
You can see highlights of more performances here.
Previous: San Jose Cuts Endanger Public Safety