by Jon Melegrito | June 20, 2012
Sec.-Treas. Lee Saunders delivers his keynote address Tuesday morning.
LOS ANGELES — This is the defining moment in American labor history, and AFSCME members must pull together and fight for our nation’s public workers and working families, Sec.-Treas. Lee Saunders exhorted delegates in his keynote address Tuesday.
Saunders spoke of how public service employees across the country are struggling – unable to find jobs and losing their homes to foreclosures, Saunders pointed out. But, “we are also mad as hell. And for AFSCME, that means we’re taking action.”
We’re taking action from Ohio to Florida, from Hawaii to Puerto Rico, and racking up big victories along the way. Saunders spoke of the tireless work by Michigan’s Council 25 members to put to a vote of the people a law that lets the governor handpick local dictators who can revoke collective bargaining. He spoke of Ohio, where members like corrections officer James Adkins worked for months to defeat Gov. John Kasich’s disastrous Senate Bill 5 by a crushing 2-to-1 margin. He spoke of Connecticut, where Councils 4 and 15 members joined forces to fight privatization and layoffs, and elect pro-worker candidates to public office.
“We are not backing down in any state, city, or neighborhood,” Saunders said.
“Whether it was the Wisconsin uprising that set the tone for our fights across the country or the California home care workers of UDW and CUHW standing up for the elderly and disabled: We don’t back down.”
Organizing wins in the past two years are a testament to our determined fight, Saunders said, as more than 50,000 workers are now a part of the Green Machine in Maryland, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Washington, Illinois, California, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.
And in the months ahead, AFSCME members must work to re-elect Pres. Barack Obama and Vice Pres. Joe Biden, Saunders said, because they are “the only choice for the working families of this great nation.”
See Secretary-Treasurer Saunders’ full keynote address here, and watch excerpts below: