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For Immediate Release

Monday, June 28, 2010

AFSCME President McEntee Demands Passage of Jobs Bill and Accountability from Politicians in 2010 Convention Address

Boston — 

As the 2010 Convention of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO (AFSCME) kicked off in Boston, Pres. Gerald W. McEntee called on Congress to pass legislation to promote jobs and protect public services, while demanding that politicians be held accountable for their promises to working people.

“We need a new jobs bill that continues to fund our economic recovery. That jobs bill exists right now in Congress. It includes resources to help states avoid massive layoffs. Unfortunately, this bill is on life support,” McEntee told Convention delegates. “Just last week, Senate Republicans blocked the bill for the second time. They again decided to play politics with our lives and our jobs.”

McEntee pointed to the recent Arkansas Senate election, where AFSCME’s accountability campaign put the incumbent “on the ropes and fighting for her political life.” He made it clear that the union was laying down a political marker and demanding accountability from political leaders. “We support the politicians who support working families. But these politicians, whether they are Democrats or Republicans, must understand: We are holding you accountable. You are not above the people who elected you. And if you turn on us you will pay the price!”

President McEntee deplored the use of the recession by politicians to attack public employees who provide the vital services that make our communities good places to live.  “They're using this recession as an excuse to privatize our work, raid our pensions and cut our jobs,” McEntee said.

McEntee reminded delegates that AFSCME has a responsibility to fight for the interests of all working people.  “They’ve never faced such an onslaught from all sides,” said McEntee. “Our mission is nothing short of ensuring that America lives up to its tremendous promise and boundless potential.”  The union’s agenda is to secure “Decent jobs that allow people to support their families, retirement security that gives us peace of mind, and public services that are worthy of this great nation.”

McEntee pointed out the challenges facing workers who have lost their homes, their jobs and their pensions during these difficult times. “Today 27 million Americans are either out of work or can’t find more than part-time jobs. The divide between the rich and the poor is as wide as the Grand Canyon. People see their dreams of security evaporating.”

McEntee noted that President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act saved or created 2.8 million jobs. With the funding for public services provided by the act running soon, he called on Congress to do more to put Americans back to work and get the economy back on track.

McEntee attacked corporate CEOs who “build their own wealth by tearing down workers and the middle class.”  He specifically called out companies taking advantage of America.  “The big banks that make nothing yet reap billions of dollars by selling empty promises. The mortgage companies that cost working families their homes and savings. The prison companies and other privateers that steal our jobs – and get paid millions to do a half-assed job that YOU have to clean up later.”

McEntee also talked about the hard work of AFSCME members around the country, calling them “unsung heroes from communities across this nation.”  Among those were:

  • Ralph Miller, president of Los Angeles County Probation Officers Union, Local 685, who helped a young gang member turn her life around to become a medical assistant at the University of California, Los Angeles;
     
  • Theresa Bach, president of Missouri Council 72, Local 2093, for not only working two jobs, but also dedicating herself to helping other home care workers join the union;
     
  • Jean Thompson of Pennsylvania Council 13, Local 2582, who worked with the community food bank in Fayette County to help the sisters and brothers of her union get through a very tough period; and
     
  • AFSCME members from across the nation who traveled to Haiti after the tragic earthquake to help rescue victims and rebuild.
     

Approximately 5,000 members, activists, leaders and guests from across the nation are in Boston for the week-long Convention, which started today at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.  They are building on AFSCME’s great history of success providing vital public services, standing up for communities and promoting prosperity. During his remarks, McEntee asked members to use text messaging technology to urge senators to pass the new jobs bill.

Wednesday afternoon AFSCME members from across the United States will rally with AFSCME Council 93 at the Boston Common to oppose dangerous cuts in services. They will fight for the jobs that America needs to boost the economy and build a future of prosperity for all.

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