AFSCME Executive Board Summary Report
This report summarizes the June 2011 and September 2011 quarterly meetings of the AFSCME International Executive Board, held in Washington, DC.
International vice presidents attending the June meeting of the AFSCME Executive Board wrestled once again with the daunting challenges in several states to collective bargaining and other vital union interests. Special reports on the state-battle campaigns were presented by officials of Michigan Council 25 and Ohio Council 8 and Locals 4 and 11.
Ohio’s Eddie Parks, Joe Rugola and John Lyall described their impressive efforts via the We Are Ohio campaign to repeal Senate Bill 5, a law replete with anti-union and anti-worker provisions. The campaign already had more than triple the number of signatures needed to put repeal up for a vote. Voters will have a chance to weigh in on the referendum in just a few weeks on the November 2011 ballot.
Michigan’s Lawrence Roehrig reported on efforts to stop what is known in the state as the Local Dictator Law, which gives non-elected emergency managers power to revoke collective bargaining contracts. AFSCME is focusing its efforts on repealing the law in an Election Day referendum. At press time, signatures were being added to the petition at a rapid rate.
At the September IEB meeting, Pres. Gerald W. McEntee called attention to the outstanding dedication and work by East Coast members who were on the frontlines of Hurricane Irene (see related story), linking that to similar efforts after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. In both emergencies, he noted, “Many of our members were coping with their own losses while responding to other people’s tragedies.”
Turning to the political landscape, McEntee cited “the truly amazing effort” by AFSCME activists in the Wisconsin recall elections. Beating back a key part of that state’s anti-worker crusade, pro-worker Democrats gained two senate seats. The president then welcomed a pair of guests: Wisconsin Senators Jessica King (newly elected) and John Erpenbach. They thanked AFSCME members for their support and vowed to take back the senate by working with the We Are Wisconsin campaign to recall Gov. Scott Walker (R).
Other speakers addressing the IEB emphasized that our union continues to stand at the forefront of labor’s counter-offensive against right-wing attacks on public services and the employees who provide them; that our headquarters departments and field staff have merged into a unified team to make that campaign even more effective; and that AFSCME has recruited to the battle not only other unions but also civil rights organizations, faith-based groups, students and other progressive elements.
Before it adjourned, the IEB formed the 75th Anniversary Planning Committee, and tasked it with preparing the union’s October 2011-2012 celebration of its proud history.