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N.Y. AFSCME Members Help Contain Ebola

by Diane S. Williams  |  December 02, 2014

NEW YORK – A doctor who successfully recovered from the Ebola virus last month can thank a team of dedicated public health care workers who volunteered to care for him.

Also crucial to battling deadly diseases like the one that afflicted Dr. Craig Spencer: a coalition of unions – including DC 37 – advocating for patients and the health care workers of Bellevue Hospital, where he was treated.

New York City was ready to deal with the virus. As the first Ebola case made headlines, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration began training an elite corps of Bellevue Hospital health care workers in the Ebola protocol established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Police and emergency workers at Bellevue in AFSCME Locals 371, 420 and 1549 were trained to assess and isolate anyone suspected of having the disease. Medical legal investigators in Local 768 and morgue technicians in Local 420 got training in handling and transporting Ebola victims.

Dispatched by Police 911 operators in Local 1549, a special team of DC 37 EMTs in Local 2507 and their supervisors in Local 3621 transported Spencer in an FDNY Haztac truck to Bellevue, one of six hospitals in the state designated to diagnose and treat possible Ebola patients.

The Ebola team rushed Spencer to an isolation ward. Meanwhile, EMTs and their supervisors decontaminated the emergency vehicles used to transport Spencer, as they would any suspected Ebola patients. Following CDC protocol, chemists from Local 375 analyzed the patient’s specimens daily and sent them to CDC.

Unions representing Ebola first responders met with hospital management, police and fire departments, state and city health officials, and city commissioners to establish a preparedness plan and ensure that workers got updated training and protective gear.

Diane S. Williams is Associate Editor of Public Employee Press, a publication of AFSCME District Council 37. Click here for the full version of the article.

Newtown Officers and AFSCME Members Honored for Their Courage

by Michael Bookman  |  December 02, 2014

PLANTSVILLE, Conn. – Newtown Police Department officers dispatched to Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012, were honored for their courageous response at this year’s Courage of Connecticut Law Enforcement Dinner, held just shy of the two-year anniversary of the murder of 20 school children, a horrific event that touched millions of Americans.

With more than 200 fellow police officers in attendance, the 13 Newtown officers were honored with the Courage of Connecticut Law Enforcement award. The quick response of the Newtown officers prevented even more tragedy. The gunman killed himself immediately after police arrived, with more than 180 rounds of ammunition remaining.

Presenting the award to the Newtown officers was Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy. (Standing alongside and with the Newtown police, it was Governor Malloy who broke the news to the families of the victims on that awful day.)

“When events like Sandy Hook occur, people often look for answers, an explanation of how it could have happened,” said Governor Malloy. “But the sad truth is, there are no answers; no good ones, anyway…. Looking back on that tragic day, we can focus on what is important right now, which is the courage and steadfastness demonstrated by the members of the Newtown Police Department, whose aggressive response to the scene of the shooting undoubtedly saved lives that day.”

The honorees are: Patrolmen Will Chapman, William Hull, Mike McGowan, Liam Seabrook and Scott Smith; School Resource Officers Lenny Pena and Jason Flynn; Detectives Jason Frank, Joe Joudy and Dan McAnaspie; Sergeants Aaron Bahamonde and Dave Kullgren; and Lieutenant Chris Vanghele.

Patrolman Scott Ruszczyk, president of Newtown Police Union Local 3153, AFSCME Council 15, praised the swift actions of the police department on the day of the shooting and credited the union for the role it assumed after the event.

“In the face of an unspeakable tragedy, these officers displayed tremendous courage and fortitude,” he said. “Were it not for the quick response, the tragedy that was Newtown could have been far, far worse. The Newtown Police Department is proud to receive these honors. AFSCME Council 15 was a tremendous source of help and guidance in the days, weeks and months after the shooting.”

Congress Should Respect Our Great Nation of Immigrants

by AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders  |  November 26, 2014

President Obama's willingness to act on immigration while Congress dithers and delays is admirable. Many pressing national issues will be addressed as a result. Our borders will be more secure. The exploitation of workers by unscrupulous employers will be curtailed. Families will no longer live under the constant threat of being torn apart.
 
But President Obama's executive action is temporary. It expires when he leaves office. What our nation needs is for Congress to do its job and pass a bill. Only comprehensive immigration reform approved by Congress and signed by the President can permanently fix our nation's immigration system.
 
The cynics will tell you that it's not possible. That Congress is too broken, too partisan and too polarized to effectively legislate on any matter, let alone one as controversial and contentious as immigration. Considering the response from some extremist lawmakers on Capitol Hill in the days after President Obama announced his intention to act, the cynics have a point.
 
Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas called on Congress to punish the President by blocking all executive and judicial nominations. He even advocated for a repeat of the disastrous 2013 government shutdown.
 
Extremists in the House of Representatives retaliated by filing a lawsuit over the President's executive authority. Some called for impeachment.
 
The often offensive and reliably nutty Rep. Michele Bachmann stated President Obama was now permitting "illiterate" foreigners to vote in American elections…
 
For more please click here.

EMS Workers: ‘We’re More Than a Resource’

by Justin Lee  |  November 26, 2014

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – When American Medical Response (AMR) entered negotiations in early November saying it wanted to fill shifts with the “least expensive resource available,” EMS professionals in Riverside County were more than a little put off to be reduced to commodities.  They responded Nov. 18 by showing up in force with a petition, signed by nearly every worker, demanding respect and a fair contract.

The company’s comments were shocking to members like EMT Himelda Rivera, who earns roughly $12 an hour and works 60 hours a week to make ends meet.

“When they refer to us like that, they discount the fact that people have experience and a face. It’s like they don’t care,” she said. “I understand it’s a business and they have investors, but they need to remember the boots on the ground. Show a little compassion.”

Calling EMS workers “resources” downplays their devotion and sacrifice, their long shifts with little pay, the fact they save lives and help people in their toughest times.  

AMR is a multimillion dollar subsidiary of Envision Health Care, which had net revenue of $385.3 million, an increase of 16.7 percent in the second quarter, according to SEC proxy filings and a report to an investor’s conference by Envision CEO William Sanger, who pulled in $8.9 million in 2012. It can certainly afford to treat its EMS workers much better.

Paramedic Sarah Merten, a United EMS Workers-AFSCME Local 4911 member who presented the petitions to the company, says workers are valuable employees.  "I'm an employee, but more than that, I'm a good paramedic,” she said. “I feel like I should be treated as more than a resource.”

As a result of their action, workers secured favorable tentative language on filling shifts.

EMS workers in Riverside County built their union with AFSCME because they want to keep experienced professionals on the job. With a strong union, they have a voice to improve standards in EMS for their families and their communities.  

A Union Meal Can Make a Big Difference

by Carli Stevenson  |  November 25, 2014

This Thanksgiving, as you count your blessings with family and friends, there is something very simple you can do to pay those blessings forward. Make your Thanksgiving dinner union-made.

This might come as a surprise to many folks, but you can cater America’s favorite meal with 100 percent union-made products. What does that mean? Well, for starters it means the folks who produced your turkey and favorite trimmings have the opportunity for a bountiful Thanksgiving with their families. It means supporting workers who produce some of your favorite foods right here in America. And in the cities and towns where these products are made, it means strong local economies when regular working people have extra money to spend.

So make sure your turkey is union made. It’s more delicious with a living wage.

Below, from our friends at www.unionlabel.org, is a list of union-made products to get you started.

Set the Table:

  • Homer Laughlin China
  • Fiestaware
  • All-Clad
  • Anchor Hocking
  • Libbey Glassware
  • Claus Knives
  • Corning Ware
  • Pyrex
  • Bennington Potters
  • Klear Vu chair pads

For the Feast:

Fresh Whole Turkey

  • Butterball
  • Foster Farms

Stuffing

  • Manischewitz
  • Stroehmann Bakery Products

Cranberries/Cranberry Sauce

  • Ocean Spray

Vegetables

  • Andy Boy
  • Muranka
  • Eurofresh
  • Birds Eye
  • Mann's
  • Sunripe Produce

Bread

  • Pillsbury rolls
  • Aunt Millie's bread products

Pie

  • Entenmann's
  • Marie Callender's
  • Pillsbury Pie Crust
  • Sara Lee
  • Banquet Fruit Pies

Wine and Beer

  • Chateau Ste. Michelle
  • Columbia Crest
  • St. Supery
  • Charles Krug
  • C.K. Mondavi
  • Gallo of Sonoma
  • Miller Beer
  • Miller High Life
  • Miller Genuine Draft
  • Miller Lite
  • Milwaukee’s Best
  • Icehouse
  • Red Dog
  • Anheuser-Busch
  • Budweiser
  • Budweiser American Ale
  • Bud Light
  • Michelob
  • Shock Top
  • Busch
  • Rolling Rock
  • O’Doul’s

Thank you, Abbey

by Yanik Ruiz-Ramón  |  November 24, 2014


Caregivers work selflessly every day for their loved ones. To show our appreciation during National Family Caregiver and Homecare Provider Appreciation Month, AFSCME members from the United Domestic Workers of America decided to treat them to a surprise!

See what happens!

See more videos here »

AFSCME Retiree Wins City Council Seat

by Olivia Sandbothe  |  November 21, 2014

BAXTER, Minn. – As public service workers and union members, we take our civic duties seriously. We vote, we call our elected representatives, and we talk to our neighbors about the issues that affect us. Steve Barrows took that commitment to public service even further this year when he decided to run for office in his hometown of Baxter, Minn. And he won!

Barrows retired three years ago after decades in state social services. But he wasn’t done working to make Baxter a better place. The town of about 7,600 people is growing and evolving.

“There’s an opportunity for forward-thinking and planning to make sure we are a healthy, viable, attractive community,” he says.

The new city council member says his experiences with Local 1574 gave him the skills needed to run for office.

“My background as a union member gave me confidence over the years as I attended conventions and took on leadership roles in the local,” Barrows says. “I got to see how things get organized and look at the bigger picture when considering issues. The relationships you build with your brothers and sisters are the same kinds of relationships you want to build with constituents.”

Barrows is looking forward to bringing his union values to the city council. He believes that positive labor relations will pay off for everyone in the community.

“We know that our city employees work hard and they’re quality people,” he says. “I want to continue that relationship so that the city gets the most bang for its buck.”

He believes the labor movement succeeds when union members are willing to serve in government.

“The first thing is to vote, but it’s also important for people who are so inclined to get out there and run for office,” he says.

Add Walmart Black Friday Protests to Thanksgiving Menu

by Omar Tewfik  |  November 21, 2014

Martha Sellers probably won’t be able to afford a turkey on Thanksgiving because, as on most days, she is forced to choose between paying the bills and putting food on the table.

On Black Friday, the traditional first shopping day of the holiday season the day after Thanksgiving, John Paul Ashton likely won’t be able to buy discounted clothes for his two young children. That’s because he can barely make rent.

Martha Sellers and John Paul Ashton aren’t unemployed – they both work at Walmart. Their stories aren’t unique.

Hundreds of thousands of Walmart workers struggle to afford basic necessities, even though they have a job. And, like John Paul, far too many Walmart employees are forced to go on government assistance programs like welfare, Medicaid and public housing – not because they are lazy, but because they are denied full-time hours and the opportunity to make enough to support their families.

That’s why, on Black Friday, AFSCME members and thousands of others across the country will join Walmart workers like Martha and John Paul to protest Walmart’s treatment of its employees.

The Waltons – America’s richest family and Walmart heirs – can easily afford to give their 2.2 million employees a substantial raise, but they refuse to pay their employees even a living wage. The Walton family’s greed is driving down retail wages across the nation and costing you billions. American taxpayers are quite literally subsidizing Walmart’s profits.

We have demanded change from Walmart before and have won improvements for employees. This Black Friday, we are stepping up our game. Here’s how you can make a difference:

  1. Attend a Black Friday protest in your neighborhood. There are protests at 2,100 stores nationwide.
  2. When you’re there, post a photo to Facebook or Twitter of yourself like the one President Saunders took. Please use the hashtag #WalmartStrikers so we can build momentum on social media behind these brave workers.
  3. And help spread us the word. Share this graphic on Facebook to let everyone know you stand with Walmart workers.

Your Union Can Help You Pay for College

by Olivia Sandbothe  |  November 21, 2014

We know that money can be a big obstacle when it comes to higher education. That’s why AFSCME provides scholarships to help members and their families reach their educational goals. If you or someone in your family is thinking about college, check out our scholarships page to see if you qualify. 

  • The AFSCME Family Scholarship is awarded to 10 graduating high school seniors each year. The $2,000 scholarship may be renewed for up to four years. Students must have a parent or guardian who is an AFSCME member. Apply online by Dec. 31.
  • Current and retired union members, their spouses and dependent children are eligible for the Union Plus Scholarship. These awards range from $500 to $4,000. Apply online by Jan. 31, 2015.
  • The Gerald W. McEntee Scholarship is a one-time award of $5,000 available to AFSCME members. You will need to write a 500-word essay about your commitment to the union’s mission.  Apply online by Jan. 31, 2015.

AFSCME is committed to affordable education options for all families. If you have student debt, please take our brief survey. Your responses can help us to better understand how the cost of college is affecting union households, and how we may be able to help.

AFSCME Applauds Executive Action on Immigration

by David Card  |  November 21, 2014

Noting that that action was necessary “because extremists in Congress have failed to do their jobs,” AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued a statement in support of President Obama’s executive order on immigration.

“They have done nothing to fix our country’s broken immigration system, a system that keeps millions of men and women trapped in a shadow economy that hurts all working families,” Saunders said. 

“President Obama’s executive action curtails abusive employers who exploit undocumented immigrants and in doing so, drives down wages and benefits of all of our country’s workers…. It’s time to put an end to the shameful, pointless suffering caused by [Congress’] inability to devise a comprehensive, legislative solution.”

For more than 75 years, AFSCME has been at the forefront of the fight for social justice. AFSCME members fought for and won dignity and respect in the workplace for public workers and marched with Dr. King in support of Civil Rights, and AFSCME was the first union in the country to strike over equal pay for women.

AFSCME continues that tradition as part of a broad coalition of partner unions, immigrant rights organizations and progressive allies who are coming together to assist immigrant families affected by President Obama’s order.

The coalition has developed a website, www.iAmerica.org, a centralized platform with accessible and credible services and information for immigrant families.

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