We Are AFSCME
A look at the men and women who make America happen
Retired Water Treatment Plant Operator
Vice President, AFSCME Retiree Subchapter 102
Why did you get involved in the union?
When I first came on the job in 1979 we didn’t have a union and because of that we didn’t have a voice. But we fought hard and organized in 1984 after the governor signed the collective bargaining law in 1983. We won our representation election with Council 8 in a nearly unanimous vote, and I served as the first president of Local 1316, Gallipolis City Employees.
In 2001, something unusual happened. Tell us about that.
After the 2000 Census, Gallipolis lost its city status because of a population dip. Under Ohio law, villages are not required to recognize unions, and Gallipolis opted out when our contract expired in 2001. But I still kept active with AFSCME. As a retiree, I contribute to AFSCME PEOPLE. I was active in the fight against Senate Bill 5.
Why do you think it’s important to still be involved in the union?
I retired in July 2011 after 32 years. I still consider myself part of the union family and I want to help out as much as possible. Working union members may not have as much time to get involved, but we retirees do. What we do now not only affects us retirees, but also current and future workers.
Next Wave Member
Code Enforcement Officer, Tulsa, Okla., Local 1180
How did you get involved in the union?
I started as a 911 dispatcher and was real happy when I got the job. But when I started, I saw employees who were exhausted and forced to do mandatory overtime. We tried employee advisory committees to get some solutions, but nothing happened. We lobbied successfully to get the city to change an ordinance allowing 911 employees to unionize.
What do you consider to be important about the union?
We have collective bargaining. We have our rights. We made some major changes, such as getting rid of forced overtime and getting the city to pay double time whenever anyone works overtime. We have been able to show the workers that the union was the solution.
How do you encourage other young workers to join the union?
First, I educate them on the history. I tell them this didn’t happen overnight. Education is a big component. We lay out the facts and show them that the way to real change is through the union, through collective action.
To find out how to become a part of AFSCME’s Next Wave, for members 35 and younger, go to AFSCME.org/nextwave.
Li Jung Chan (Photos from top by Chris Blank; Chris Smith; Samantha Quon)
Li Jung Chan
AFSCME PEOPLE Donor
Assistant Teacher, New York City, DC 1707, Local 205
I have been a public service worker for 23 years. The union works for the members’ benefit. We need that representation to stand up for us. You can’t fight city hall alone as effectively as doing it as a group. With the union we have collective bargaining, and everything is binding and written down. There is no question what our rights are and what we work for. I donate to PEOPLE because it’s very important to gain political power. It’s important that we have that financial ability to help elect leaders in our country who look out for us. That is our goal. If we just sit and sulk, we’ll never get anywhere. We need the PEOPLE program to deliver that message for us.