AFSCME.org Blog and Press Release Feed http://www.afscme.org/rss/blog AFSCME.org Blog and Press Release Feed Tue, 3 May 2011 05:00:00 +0000 AMPS en hourly 1 Arbitrator Rules for Iowa State Employees on Health Care http://www.afscme.org/blog/arbitrator-gives-iowa-employees-health-care-victory Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:42:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/arbitrator-gives-iowa-employees-health-care-victory An arbitrator empowered to determine a contract impasse between the State of Iowa and its 19,000 state and judicial branch employees represented by AFSCME Iowa Council 61 ruled in favor of the workers when it accepted the union’s health insurance proposal requiring the overwhelming majority of the state and judicial branch employees to pay a $20 monthly healthcare premium. The move saves most state employees thousands of dollars per year.

The health insurance issue was a major sticking point in reaching a new two-year collective bargaining pact, with Governor Branstad’s negotiators unsuccessfully seeking a 10 percent employee premium payment for AFSCME members in 2016 and 15 percent in 2017. Talks that started in November failed to reach a voluntary agreement by the mid-February deadline.

“We are pleased that the arbitrator found in our favor on health insurance,” said AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan. “We believe the process worked in such a way as to appropriately balance the interests of state employees and state government. The arbitration award shows that Iowa’s current collective bargaining process works.”

Governor Branstad has long been at odds with state employees and has been pushing for state employees to pay large health insurance premium payments since he returned to office in 2011 for his fifth term. The latest contract calls for pay raises of about 6 percent over two years, but Branstad won’t propose a bill to fund the raises, saying that the costs must come from each agency’s budget. Most state employees have not had a raise in three years.

“With this fair decision, AFSCME members are pleased that we will be able to look forward and focus on providing public services to Iowans,” added Homan.

 

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New EMS Contract Promotes Safety, Raises Pay, Protects Health Care http://www.afscme.org/blog/new-ems-contract-promotes-safety-raises-pay-protects-health-care Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:17:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/new-ems-contract-promotes-safety-raises-pay-protects-health-care SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Emergency medical service (EMS) professionals working in 13 counties across California voted to ratify a new three-year agreement with the ambulance company, American Medical Response. The deal will improve safety by limiting the number of consecutive work shifts, providing pay increases and protecting health care for the nation’s largest collective bargaining unit of private EMS personnel.

The new collective bargaining agreement improves work conditions for 1,800 EMTs, paramedics, dispatchers, registered nurses, mechanics, vehicle supply technicians and office support personnel employed at AMR in Contra Costa, Placer, Sacramento, San Benito, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Stanislaus, Sonoma, Tulare and Yolo counties.

The victory is the result of two years of intense negotiations with a company that—despite growing corporate profits—proposed increasing workers’ health insurance premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs. Workers rejected the company’s backward proposals and stood united for a contract that advances their profession while improving EMS in their communities.

 “Standing together in a union gives us strength to improve patient care and provide security for our families,” said Sami Abed, a 13-year paramedic in Santa Cruz county and president of United EMS Workers-AFSCME Local 4911. “Having that power is important for EMS professionals anywhere.” 

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Atlanta School Employees Press Mayor to Release Funds http://www.afscme.org/blog/atlanta-school-employees-press-mayor-to-release-funds Fri, 27 Mar 2015 10:57:24 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/atlanta-school-employees-press-mayor-to-release-funds ATLANTA – Employees of the Atlanta Public School System (APS) are taking the fight for school children directly to Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed, calling him out for withholding millions of dollars owed to the school system by the city.

APS workers rallied outside police headquarters March 25th, holding “Wanted” posters with a picture of Mayor Reed and calling for the Atlanta police chief to investigate for the mayor’s theft of funds owed to APS.

“Mayor Reed is stealing from Atlanta’s children and we have had enough of it,” said Susan McCaskill, an APS bus operator and member of AFSCME Local 1644. “In cases of theft, it’s up to law enforcement to investigate. Just because Kasim Reed is the mayor doesn’t mean that he should get away with thievery. ”

The money in question is two years of delinquent annual payments from the city to APS, more than $13 million. The money is supposed to be paid to the system in exchange for APS’s portion of property tax revenue generated from a green space project called, the Beltline. In addition to Beltline money, the APS workers are also calling out the mayor to release deeds to 12 abandoned properties owned by APS that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

“I don’t understand why the mayor would stop funding from going to our schools,” said Khalia Roberts-Harris, an honor student and senior from Grady High School in Atlanta, who took off school to attend the rally. “We are told if we work hard we can be something when we get older, but the mayor is taking resources from our schools that will help us succeed.” 

At a rally two weeks earlier, APS workers were accompanied by local news cameras as they walked into City Hall and asked to speak with Mayor Reed. An aide told the workers that he was unavailable.

“This rally is about what is best for our kids,” said Quentin Hutchins, an APS bus operator. “They deserve a school system that is fully funded and a mayor that doesn’t bully his way into getting what he wants for the benefit of his corporate buddies.”

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UW Stadium Workers Win Outsourcing Settlement http://www.afscme.org/blog/uw-stadium-workers-win-outsourcing-settlement Thu, 26 Mar 2015 11:14:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/uw-stadium-workers-win-outsourcing-settlement The University of Washington was taught an important lesson by approximately 20 skilled trades workers who play a vital role in making the university a world-class facility. If you violate the collective bargaining agreement, undermining the importance of the skilled workers, you can expect to pay a huge price.

In 2013, heat and air conditioning specialists, plumbers, electricians and other skilled trades workers represented by AFSCME Local 1488 WFSE, blew the whistle when the UW improperly outsourced maintenance work for renovation of the landmark Husky Stadium.

In February of this year, the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) sided with workers, ordering the university to pay $45,000, divided up among the workers.

“Every time the university contracts out, it costs the taxpayers more money and I’m a taxpayer and it also costs me more money,” said Paula Lukaszek, president of Local 1488 WFSE.

The agreement settles three unfair labor practice complaints filed by the union. Key provisions include: 

  • The UW will immediately return, to bargaining unit members, any work “historically and traditionally” done by the workers related to Husky Stadium, including the Don James Center and the Stadium Clinic.
  • The UW agrees that, until Sept. 1, 2017, it will provide Local 1488 WFSE with timely copies of all work orders and contractor purchase orders for any repair or maintenance work in Husky Stadium.
  • The UW will provide the orientation, training and tools appropriate and reasonably necessary for members to resume outsourced work now coming back to them.
  • And, until Sept. 1, 2017, the union and university will use a mediation/arbitration process to resolve any disputes covered by the settlement.

Hear Local 1488 WFSE members talk about the settlement here.

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Underfunding and understaffing plague public libraries http://www.afscme.org/blog/underfunding-and-understaffing-plague-public-libraries Thu, 26 Mar 2015 10:59:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/underfunding-and-understaffing-plague-public-libraries

Local 1482 member Rita Meade, the library information supervisor at Bay Ridge branch library in Brooklyn, helps out a patron.

Local 1482 member Rita Meade, the library information supervisor at Bay Ridge branch library in Brooklyn, helps out a patron.

Since 2009, front-line staffing at New York City's public libraries has plummeted by 21 percent, according to union records.

The city's three library systems are struggling to provide services after being hit with millions of dollars in budget cuts during the three-terms of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

Because of cuts to staff and funding during the Bloomberg administration, patrons often wait weeks before they receive book requests.

Schoolchildren flock to branch libraries. But after-school programs are shrinking. Many branches are now staffed by only one full-time or part-time children's Librarian.

Neighborhood libraries can't meet the demand for English language instruction for immigrants.

Libraries are the principal gateway to the Internet for people without broadband access in their home. Yet the libraries cannot provide enough training and access to computers for the city's 3 million residents who lack Internet service at home.

"We are trying to do more with less, as the saying goes," said John Hyslop, president of Queens Library Guild Local 1321. "But there is only so much you can do when you lack resources. We're facing a crisis after years of deep budget reductions and downsizing."

"Branches of Opportunity," a 2013 report by the Center for an Urban Future, documents the need for an infusion of funds into the library systems. Between 2002 and 2011, the city reduced its contributions 8 percent, from $296 million to $274 million, according to the report.

The report also notes that since 2008, the New York Public Library recorded a net loss of $28.2 million in city funding while Queens Public Library absorbed a $17.5 million loss and Brooklyn Public Library was hit with an $18.1 million reduction.

"Due to these funding reductions, all three systems have had to reduce their hours of operation to an average of five days a week, down from six days a week in 2008," the report says. "The budget cuts have also forced the libraries in New York to curtail the amount they spend on books and other materials."

"The budget cuts have devastated the libraries," said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido.

Spending on books and other materials has dropped dramatically. According to the report, the Queens Library acquisition budget has fallen from $15 million to $5 million in recent years.

A skeleton staff

Children's Librarian Laura Bishop reads to kids at a community garden at 9th Street and Avenue C in Manhattan.

Children's Librarian Laura Bishop reads to kids at a community garden at 9th Street and Avenue C in Manhattan.

Children's Librarian Laura Bishop reads to kids at a community garden at 9th Street and Avenue C in Manhattan.

Through layoffs, attrition and hiring freezes, the libraries have eliminated hundreds of good jobs with decent benefits, at a time when the city's middle class has felt squeezed by an economic recovery that has solely benefitted New York's richest residents.

"We are so underfunded and understaffed, we can't give the public the level of service they deserve," said Eileen Muller, president of Brooklyn Library Guild Local 1482. "We have lost so many people. I don't think our membership has ever been so low."

"Those branches that do operate on Saturdays often do so with a skeleton staff," said Valentin Colon, president of New York Public Library Guild Local 1930.

When a staffer calls in sick, NYPL branches are sometimes forced to shut down the children's section for the day. On some occasions, libraries have run operations without a Librarian.

"I have people who say ˜I can't take a day off because the staff will be short,'" Colon said.

And gone are the days when you could count on finding a best seller when you go to the library. "You are put on the waiting list when you reserve a popular book, but you may be number 235 on the waiting list," Muller said.

Because of underfunding and understaffing, city libraries cannot provide enough training for patrons, according to Ron Barber, a Local 1482 executive board member.

Barber added that buildings do not have the bandwidth needed for speedy Internet service, and branches don't have enough laptops, tablets and PCs. The libraries are encouraging patrons to take out e-books, but the staff's schedules do not allow sufficient time to show patrons, especially seniors, how to access those books. Despite promoting e-lending, electronic checkouts account for only 5 percent of the circulation at NYPL and 1 percent in Queens and Brooklyn, according to the Center for an Urban Future report.

To carry out downsizing, the city's libraries have used technology, such as self-checkout machines. This has increased the workload of clericals who often do what used to be back-room work - such as preparing books and magazines for circulation - while seated at the circulation desk.

"If we had more staff, we could do more programs," said Rita Meade, the library information supervisor at the Bay Ridge branch in Brooklyn.

Parents want more story time for their children and more academically-oriented after-school programs, Meade said, but because of the staffing crunch Bay Ridge cannot accommodate their wishes or organize activities such as a teen book club.

City libraries can only meet the needs of a small number of people who wish to attend English Speakers of Other Language classes and GED courses. The Flushing branch in Queens is only able to serve 20 percent of the people on the waiting list for GED classes. This is a city where nearly 30 percent of the working people in New York City lack a high school diploma. The city also has one of the lowest GED attainment rates in the nation.

Security concerns

Security is a big concern of both the staff and the public. Recently, Queens Library agreed to Local 1321's request for a Police Officer at a branch where gangs congregated, intimidating the staff and patrons. Union leaders report that workers at the New York Public Library have been assaulted.

And in a city where homelessness has skyrocketed, "The library has become like a hotel," said Cuthbert Dickenson, president of Quasi-Public Employees Local 374, which represents blue-collar workers, including security guards, at NYPL, which serves Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island. "People come in the morning and don't leave," Dickenson said. "This creates a security issue."

DC 37 and the union's four library locals are part of a coalition campaigning to secure an additional $65 million for annual operating expenses and $1.1 billion for a 10-year capital plan. City Council Majority leader Jimmy Van Bramer, who chairs the council's committee on libraries and cultural institutions, is coordinating the campaign. Also participating are the Center for an Urban Future, The Charles H. Revson Foundation and community groups.

The funding sought by the DC 37-supported library working group would improve services dramatically:

  • Hours of service: Full six-day service per week, up from five-day services with some branches open on Saturdays;
  • Circulation: New York City would become the city with the highest circulation in the world (76 million items);
  • Jobs: 736 jobs would be created, increasing the workforce of the three library systems from 3,800 to 4,536;
  • Patron visits: The expanded hours would increase annual visits (now 40 million) by 5 million by making servies available to people who are unable to use the libraries with the current hours;
  • Technology and Training: Technology training slots would be doubled to 230,000 and computer sessions would be increased by 3 million;
  • After-school Programs: Universal access to after-school resources, serving 20,000 students, up from 8,500;
  • Early Childhood Literacy Support (ages 0-5): Increased access for 301,000 more infants and toddlers, and
  • INYC: Five enrollment centers for the city's new identification card would be created.    

"Today's public library is about much more than books," Garrido said.

"The branch libraries are the heart of our neighborhoods," he said. "They offer a safe haven for children after school; a place where seniors can meet and read the newspaper; job assistance for the unemployed, and educational programs for immigrants and people seeking their GED. The city must increase its support for the libraries, which sustain our quality of life and help keep the economy humming."

This article originally appeared in DC 37’s Public Employee Press.

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Everyday Heroes Come Face to Face with Their Biggest Little Fan http://www.afscme.org/blog/everyday-heroes-come-face-to-face-with-their-biggest-little-fan Wed, 25 Mar 2015 15:48:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/everyday-heroes-come-face-to-face-with-their-biggest-little-fan Two-year-old Quincy Kroner knows a thing or two about heroes. He watches his heroes from the living room window of his Cincinnati home every Friday afternoon. That’s when AFSCME Local 250 sanitation workers Mark Davis and Eric Washington drive by in their garbage truck and collect trash from his street. 

Usually Quincy and the workers just exchange waves, but last week their friendship went viral. When Quincy’s parents got him a brand new toy garbage truck as a reward for successfully potty training, he was anxious to show off his new toy. So he and his dad stepped out to meet his heroes face to face.

But when the big moment came, Quincy was so excited he burst into tears. “He is a pretty shy guy, he generally has to warm up around strangers,” his dad, Ollie Kroner, told BuzzFeed News. “But it doesn’t take long before he wants to talk trucks!”

The photo his dad snapped of that moment and posted on Facebook quickly captured the Internet’s attention. With millions of views and likes already, Quincy and his AFSCME heroes are now an online phenomenon, even catching a mention on ABC’s Good Morning America.

“I can’t believe how popular the photo has been,” Kroner said. “I was disappointed that I didn’t catch him grinning in his big moment. But what can you do? It was a great photo in a different kind of way.”

Sometimes it takes a 2-year-old to remind us all what a hero really is. It’s not about magic capes or superpowers. It’s about hard work, dependability and doing something that makes our communities better places to live. We get it, Quincy! We think sanitation workers are a big deal too.

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Rauner’s Anti-Union Scheme Boosts Illinois Local http://www.afscme.org/blog/rauners-anti-union-scheme-boosts-illinois-local Wed, 25 Mar 2015 12:56:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/rauners-anti-union-scheme-boosts-illinois-local There’s a right way to respond to the vicious attacks that many public workers are facing across the nation, and an Illinois AFSCME local just reminded us how.

In February, Gov. Bruce Rauner tried to undermine the state’s public worker unions by issuing an executive order that would deprive them of the right to collect “fair share” fees for their services. This sort of right-to-work scheme has become a popular strategy to defund unions among extreme right-wing politicians, with Wisconsin being the latest state to impose it on working families.

Rauner’s executive order is illegal, and unions have filed a lawsuit to stop it. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan seems to agree.

But AFSCME Local 3649, Illinois Council 31, reminds us that such attacks need not hurt us if we stand together. Thanks to Rauner’s executive order, Local 3649 now has 100 percent full membership, something it had never seen before. When the eight to 12 fee payers it had realized how the governor was trying to divide them, they became full-paying members.

As our Illinois sisters and brothers demonstrate, when many working families are facing hardship and workers’ rights are under attack, solidarity is still our best defense.

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Chicago Cabbies Seek Council Action on Rideshare http://www.afscme.org/blog/chicago-cabbies-seek-council-action-on-rideshare Tue, 24 Mar 2015 14:49:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/chicago-cabbies-seek-council-action-on-rideshare CHICAGO – Cab drivers, fed up with an unequal playing field with “rideshare” companies, took their concerns to their aldermen prior to the City Council’s first post-election meeting to let them know that more council action is necessary.

“We want to let them know that what they’ve passed, and what the state’s passed, has not gone far enough for the common cab driver,” said Rocky Armstrong, a veteran Chicago cab driver and Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Council 31 member.

Drivers spoke to aldermen about how the influx of an estimated 13,000 amateur UberX and Lyft drivers threatens public safety, and their livelihood as professional drivers.

Professional cab drivers must attend two weeks of school, hold commercial liability insurance, and pass drug tests and a physical prior to earning their public chauffeur license.

On the other hand, Uber and Lyft have been left to self-police despite numerous reported cases of sexual assault in Chicago.

“At least they should be regulated.  Let them have an exam, let them know what they are doing.  Let them have commercial insurance, and then, if they pass the exam, we can compete in the free market,” said Tesfaldet Abraham, Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Council 31 member.

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Big Corporations Cash in on Federal Largesse http://www.afscme.org/blog/big-corporations-cash-in-on-federal-largesse Tue, 24 Mar 2015 14:31:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/big-corporations-cash-in-on-federal-largesse Big corporations talk about being engines of economic growth, but a lot of those engines are fueled with our tax dollars.

A study by Good Jobs First, “Uncle Sam’s Favorite Corporations,” details how two-thirds of the $68 billion in business grants and tax credits awarded by the federal government during the past 15 years have gone to large corporations.

“We now see that big business dominates federal subsidy spending the way it does state and local programs,” said Philip Mattera, principal author of the study.

The largest recipient of these federal grants and tax credits is a Spanish energy company called Iberdrola, with a total subsidy of $2.2 billion. The company invested heavily in U.S. power-generation plants.

Separately, the total value of loans, loan guarantees and bailout assistance awarded to banks in the wake of the financial meltdown runs “into the trillions of dollars,” according to the report. Bank of America is the biggest aggregate bailout recipient, to the tune of approximately $3.5 trillion.

Good Jobs First, a resource center that promotes corporate and government accountability, also compiled state subsidy data showing that many companies pulling in billions in federal money are striking it rich in subsidies from states and local governments.

For instance, Boeing, a top recipient of federal grants, tax credits, loans, loan guarantees and bailout assistance, received more state and local subsidy money than any other company. In 2013, Boeing got the largest tax break awarded to a single company in any state’s history: $8.7 billion, an enticement for the company to build its 777X plane in Washington state. The company told state lawmakers it would pursue other options if it didn’t receive a sweet deal from the Legislature, along with concessions from workers.

Some of the big winners in the federal-subsidy game are companies that do big business with the government as providers of goods and services. “Of the 100 largest for-profit federal contractors in FY2014,” the report says, “49 have received federal grants or allocated tax credits and 30 have received loans, loan guarantees or bailout assistance.”

In addition, federal subsidies have gone to companies that reincorporated overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes, such as Ensco, an oilfield services company that reincorporated in Britain but is based in Texas.

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President Saunders on Expanding Opportunity in America's Urban Areas http://www.afscme.org/blog/pres-saunders-on-expanding-opportunity-in-americas-urban-areas Tue, 24 Mar 2015 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/pres-saunders-on-expanding-opportunity-in-americas-urban-areas

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders appeared March 23rd, at a Center for American Progress discussion about our nation's urban centers, and the ongoing challenges they face, from housing and transportation to education and workforce accessibility. Below is a sample of Pres. Lee Saunders' remarks.

"There is a tragedy going on in our urban centers across this country.

“You know about the Detroits of the world, you've heard about Atlantic City. You've heard that some of those cities are actually having a comeback. But if you look at those specific comebacks, you will see that in effect, it's just in smaller areas of that particular city. In fact, when you go outside of that area, you see a lot of poverty, a lot of joblessness, problems with public education, with the infrastructure. So we believe that we've got to have a dialogue, a conversation.

“We believe that this should be a priority not only of the federal government, but that we should coordinate our activities between the federal, state and local levels, to resolve the problem, to provide quality jobs in these urban areas. To provide employment, to provide hope for people who reside in these areas. They're playing by the rules every single day. They want to have a chance, and they want to have the opportunity to achieve that American Dream."

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How to Fix State and Local Budgets (and Help the Middle Class) http://www.afscme.org/blog/how-to-fix-state-and-local-budgets-and-help-the-middle-class Mon, 23 Mar 2015 14:01:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/how-to-fix-state-and-local-budgets-and-help-the-middle-class States and local governments have been cutting vital public services for years because of shrinking revenue and bad policy decisions. Crumbling roads, bridges and other infrastructure, and even shrinking educational opportunities, are the unfortunate results. A new report offers a real solution to this budget dilemma.

The report, Tax Fairness: An Answer to State Budget Problems, describes a financial crisis that could have been avoided – and can be fixed – by making our tax codes fair. The writers, economist Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of Keystone Research Center, and Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First, contend the tax codes of most states and municipalities allow the wealthiest taxpayers, and rich corporations, to avoid paying their fair share.

“Revenue lost because of rising inequality and regressive state tax codes has led states to impose years of unnecessary austerity – underfunding schools, cutting investments in higher education, and deferring maintenance of our aging infrastructure.” Herzenberg said in a statement. “After 30 years of a middle-class squeeze, it’s time to restore balance.” 

The problem, the report says, is that “money that used to grow the middle class increasingly flows up to the 1 percent, where it gets taxed far less. This is a key driver of the structural deficits plaguing many state governments.”

The richest taxpayers are taxed less because laws promoted by the wealthy, and corporations, place a “heavier burden on low- and middle-income families than on high-income families,” they write. In fact, the report notes, the top 1 percent of taxpayers pay only 5.4 percent of their income in taxes, while low-income families pay twice as much (10.9 percent).

In addition, the wealthiest taxpayers and corporations get more tax breaks, lower rates and loopholes that also drive down the taxes they pay. If states simply taxed the top 1 percent at the same rate they tax the middle 20 percent, states and localities would raise $88.5 billion each year, and an additional $128 billion annually just by “extending tax fairness to the top 20 percent.”

“Restoring public goods that benefit all employers and all working families is critical to reversing the corrosive rise of inequality,” said LeRoy. “The middle class won’t recover – and states won’t get their finances in order – until they fix their tax codes.”

Read their full report here. (pdf)

 

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Fifth Anniversary of ACA Is Cause for Celebration http://www.afscme.org/blog/fifth-anniversary-of-aca-is-cause-for-celebration Mon, 23 Mar 2015 12:45:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/fifth-anniversary-of-aca-is-cause-for-celebration Today, March 23, is the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, a law that helped 16.4 million people obtain or keep health insurance. That’s cause for celebration.

AFSCME supported passage of the ACA from its inception and played an important role in promoting its benefits. Thanks to the ACA, lives have been saved. In addition:

  • Millions of people enrolled in new health care plans and Medicaid.
  • Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage because of preexisting conditions.
  • Children up to the age of 26 can stay on their parents’ insurance policy.
  • Millions of seniors have access to free cancer screenings and get help with their prescription drug costs.

And yet the last five years have been more controversial than celebratory. Many opponents of the ACA plotted against it, looking for ways to overturn it, from the moment President Obama signed it into law on March 23, 2010. Since then, the ACA survived attacks on multiple fronts, including more than 50 votes by the Republican-led Congress to repeal, undo or modify it.

The attacks continue. Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in King v. Burwell, a case in which the federal tax credits that help millions afford health insurance are at risk. Perhaps the law’s closest brush with death came in 2012, inside the same courtroom, where by a 5-to-4 vote the justices upheld the law’s constitutionality.

As Sylvia Mathews Burwell, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, put it last month, the ACA is now “an important part of the everyday lives of millions of Americans.”

“It’s the relief we see in the eyes of millions of parents who can cover their young adult children on their own health plan,” she said. “It’s our mothers, sisters and daughters who are no longer paying more for coverage just because they’re female. It’s the people with preexisting conditions who can no longer be locked out of health insurance.”

In the years ahead, the ACA will continue to benefit millions of people. Today, we celebrate the positive change it has already brought. 

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Low Savings Mean Retirement Insecurity http://www.afscme.org/blog/low-savings-mean-retirement-insecurity Fri, 20 Mar 2015 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/low-savings-mean-retirement-insecurity Pensions have all but vanished in most workplaces, replaced (if at all) by 401(k)-style savings plans that leave whatever dollars that are put aside for the long haul to the wild gyrations of the stock market. Now comes a sobering new report by the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) that shows how far most Americans are from having a secure retirement.

For working households near retirement, researchers found that the median retirement account balance is just $14,500. That means approximately half the people surveyed have more than that amount and half have less. Diane Oakley, executive director of NIRS, said “this amount won't even replace one year's salary for millions of older Americans. Unfortunately, they just don't have time to catch up on their saving shortfall.”

An even more depressing picture emerges when counting all households (those with retirement savings and those with none). In that case, the median retirement account balance is a mere $2,500.

The NIRS report, The Continuing Retirement Savings Crisis, also reveals that approximately 62 percent of working households, ages 55 to 64, have savings far below what most people in this country need to be self-sufficient in retirement. That means that more Americans have to work longer.

The situation is even bleaker for minorities. Only 38 percent of African-American men and 32 percent of African-American women have retirement accounts; for Latinos, only 27 percent of men and 21 percent of women have either pensions or retirement savings.

Most people – particularly women – count on Social Security to get them by in retirement, but it’s not enough, with the average monthly benefit for a retiree just $1,200.

“I would be in big trouble without my pension, that’s for sure,” said Gary Tavormina, a retired New York corrections officer and president of Retiree Chapter 82. “I tried to save for retirement, but it wasn’t easy. Social Security is essential but it doesn’t cover all of my expenses. I’m not surprised people without pensions are hurting. I know my retirement security depends on it.”

A pension that provided a fixed benefit for life – once a critical part of many workers’ retirement plans – now is a vanishing breed, leaving most workers with retirement insecurity. The proportion of private wage and salary workers holding such plans dropped from 38 percent to 20 percent from 1980 to 2008.

Replacing pensions for many are 401(k) savings plans that place nearly all the responsibility for saving on the worker, with the risk of declines in the stock market. During the same 28-year period, the proportion of private wage and salary workers participating in such savings plans increased from 8 percent to 31 percent.

The NIRS report notes that the average 401(k) balance of $100,000 for households nearing retirement age is not only “inadequate to provide meaningful income security for the typical household; it also only counts those that own retirement accounts in the first place.”

Adding to this miserable outlook for most Americans without a pension to look forward to is another shocking statistic: $7.7 trillion. That is the gap between what American households “actually saved today and what they should have saved today to maintain their living standards in retirement,” according to another report, this one by the Pension Rights Center.

Also called the Retirement Income Deficit, this retirement savings gap rose from $6.6 trillion since it was first announced five years ago. “The Retirement Income Deficit is one of the starkest illustrations of the retirement crisis we’re facing,” said Karen Friedman, executive vice president and policy director of the Pension Rights Center.

That’s why AFSCME is fighting to protect pensions for those who have it, and to preserve Social Security in the face of attacks from corporate-backed extremists in Congress.

Learn more about the retirement savings crisis here.

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LIVE: Justice for Homecare Tribunal http://www.afscme.org/blog/live-justice-for-homecare-tribunal Thu, 19 Mar 2015 15:27:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/live-justice-for-homecare-tribunal

 

It is inconceivable but true: In 2015 there are workers in America who don’t have the right to minimum wage.

What’s worse, these workers are responsible for taking care of the most important people in our lives – our grandparents, parents, friends and loved ones who require in-home support to stay safe and healthy at home. And thanks in part to our aging baby boomers, home care is the fastest-growing occupation in America.

Read more

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How the Super-Rich Are Attempting an Illinois Takeover -- and Trying to Shut Out Working Families http://www.afscme.org/blog/how-the-super-rich-are-attempting-an-illinois-takeover-and-trying-to-shut-out-working-families Thu, 19 Mar 2015 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/how-the-super-rich-are-attempting-an-illinois-takeover-and-trying-to-shut-out-working-families You have to go all the way back to ancient Athens to find an explanation for what's happening in our country today. It was the political philosopher Aristotle who first used the term "oligarchy" to refer to rule by the rich, warning against the dangers posed to democracy when a small elite takes control of the reins of power to advance its own interests.

That danger has never been more real in our lifetimes than it is right now, and perhaps no greater anywhere in this country than in my own state of Illinois. Bruce Rauner, our newly-elected billionaire Republican governor, spent more than $25 million of his own money to win election, then immediately created a $20 million intimidation fund to threaten any politician who won't go along with his agenda.

Rauner's rise to power was fueled by close ties to other billionaires, like Chicago-based hedge fund honcho Ken Griffin, who attracted national attention when he bemoaned the fact that the super-rich have "insufficient influence" on politics.

The reality, of course, is that the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision striking down campaign finance restrictions accelerated the steadily-swelling influence of the über-wealthy on the political process. That means the very rich exert ever more sway over not just the outcome of elections, but also the critical policy issues that affect all our lives.

Many goals unite the New American Oligarchy to which Bruce Rauner belongs: the privatization of public services, a tax system that shields their riches, the destruction of public education, diminished workplace rights and consumer protections, lower wages, and far too much more of that ilk.

But there's no doubt that their first and foremost goal is to clear the playing field of one of the few entities that has the resources and determination to stand up to them -- America's labor unions.

Click here to read the full article.

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Recommendations on Policing Go to President http://www.afscme.org/blog/recommendations-on-policing-go-to-president Thu, 19 Mar 2015 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/recommendations-on-policing-go-to-president Public safety officers and AFSCME members from Alaska to Connecticut testified before the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which on March 4 submitted those recommendations and others to President Obama. Obama created the task force last year to bridge the gap between community and law enforcement, examining best practices around the country.

In Phoenix, Sgt. Aaron Danielson, president of the Public Safety Employee Association/AFSCME, testified about the importance of bringing community and police together to help broaden the public’s understanding of the work and commitment officers bring to their jobs every day.

“Our experience tells us that Citizen Police Academies, an idea that’s been around awhile that we adopted in 2012, could be the ideal way to bring police and citizens closer together in pursuit of our joint community public safety goals,” said Danielson, with the Fairbanks, Alaska International Airport Police and Fire Department. “We graduated our first class of 24 citizens in May 2012, and the 12-week course was truly eye-opening – for citizens and police alike.”

Testifying in Washington, DC, Sgt. David Orr, a Norwalk, Connecticut, public safety officer and AFSCME Local 1727 member, urged the task force to recommend extending workman’s compensation to cover Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Orr cited the psychological injuries suffered by police officers in the tragedy and aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown.

“As cops, we all know that those outside of our profession love to hear a good war story,” said Orr. ”But nobody wants to hear the story told by the Newtown officer who responded to Sandy Hook Elementary and entered the first grade classroom to find an entire class full of 6-year-old children murdered by a deranged young man with an assault rifle.”

AFSCME law enforcement members welcome the opportunity to partner with the administration to implement the recommendations to enhance the public’s understanding of the work these brave women and men do every day to keep our communities safe.

AFSCME represents more than 100,000 public safety officers across the country from jails and prisons to towns and cities. AFSCME is committed to sharing the stories of dedication, sacrifice and commitment these brave women and men take to work every day.

For additional information read:

Obama: 'Now is the moment' for police to make changes U.S. News & World Report

Obama Police Commission Sidesteps Most Controversial Reforms NBCNews.com

 

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Maryland Workers Rally Against Anti-Worker Budget http://www.afscme.org/blog/maryland-workers-rally-against-anti-worker-budget Thu, 19 Mar 2015 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/maryland-workers-rally-against-anti-worker-budget ANNAPOLIS, Md. – More than 500 workers from every corner of Maryland converged on the state Capitol to rally against Gov. Larry Hogan’s plan to take away a pay raise from workers and drastically cut essential programs. Workers are supporting the Better Budget for Maryland plan, adopted unanimously by the House of Delegates Appropriations Committee.

“Legislators have a choice between Governor Hogan’s budget that slashes education spending and takes away a 2 percent pay raise for state and university employees, and the House Appropriations Committee’s budget that saves the 2 percent pay raise and restores 90 percent of Governor Hogan’s cuts to our classrooms,” said AFSCME Council 3 Pres. Patrick Moran.

“This plan strengthens our pension by investing $1.52 billion into the fund. Maryland remains one of only a handful of states that invests more into our pension fund than is actuarially required,” he said.

AFSCME Council 3, Council 67 and ACE-AFSCME Local 2250 members were joined by AFSCME Retiree Chapter 1 and teachers represented by the American Federation of Teachers and Maryland State Education Association (MSEA).

From day one, newly elected Governor Hogan has taken aim at public workers and teachers. In his first budget, he planned to take away a 2 percent wage increase negotiated in the state workers’ most recent contract. “We will not sit idly by and take this abuse,” Moran told the crowd. “Together, with our sisters and brothers from MSEA, our AFSCME family from Baltimore and countless residents from across the state, we will make clear that we all deserve a better budget for all of Maryland.”

Glen Middleton, AFSCME Council 67 executive director and also International vice president, added, “All Marylanders stand in solidarity with the state’s workforce to urge elected officials to make the right choice for a better budget for all of Maryland. Our legislators need to keep an eye on our future by fully funding our education priorities.”

The House of Delegates approved the Better Budget plan March 18, and the state Senate is expected to take up the measure soon. The governor still has the ability to veto the plan, but AFSCME Council 3, AFSCME Council 67 and ACE-AFSCME Local 2250 will continue to fight back.

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Pro-Worker Legislators Aim to Out-Organize ALEC http://www.afscme.org/blog/pro-worker-legislators-aim-to-out-organize-alec Wed, 18 Mar 2015 09:48:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/pro-worker-legislators-aim-to-out-organize-alec State and local lawmakers often don’t have the resources or staff to research how other states have solved complex policy problems. But union-busting politicians have been taking their agenda from state to state at breakneck speed. It’s left pro-worker lawmakers wondering how they can compete with the right-wing juggernaut.

Conservative state legislators owe much of their success to a secretive group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which helps politicians spread bad ideas from state to state. ALEC’s methods are shady, but the basic concept of sharing legislation among like-minded lawmakers has been wildly successful. It’s a big part of the reason that the anti-union crowd has such an unshakeable grip on many state capitols.

This month, state legislators from around the country met with White House advisors and Sen. Elizabeth Warren to discuss how progressives can match this level of organization and information-sharing. They are building a new group called the State Innovation Exchange (SiX). “It’s the biggest missing piece in the progressive infrastructure,” said SiX’s executive director Nick Rathod, a former White House aide who helped implement the President’s policies in the states.

But make no mistake—SiX isn’t an ALEC for the left. SiX is building a more transparent organization that helps lawmakers to put their constituents first. Unlike ALEC, it won’t be directed by a board of CEOs and it won’t require its members to pledge loyalty to the group’s mission. All a lawmaker needs to participate in SiX is a shared commitment to policies that help working families.

The group is building a “library of legislation” that allows any lawmaker or community group to upload their idea for a bill into a searchable database. By using the SiX library, a lawmaker in Florida can instantly see how her counterparts in Minnesota or Washington tackled the problem of paid sick leave.

The experiment is just getting off the ground, but thousands of bills and briefs already were added to the library. Times are tough in politics these days, but pro-worker lawmakers will face these challenging times armed with new ideas. 

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‘The Truth About John Arnold’ Revealed http://www.afscme.org/blog/the-truth-about-john-arnold-revealed Tue, 17 Mar 2015 15:02:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/the-truth-about-john-arnold-revealed Last November, Phoenix voters emphatically rejected a ballot initiative that would have replaced city workers’ pensions with risky 401(k)-style plans. A broad coalition of pension advocates including Phoenix firefighters, police officers, AFSCME Locals 2384 and 2960 joined forces to defeat the measure, Proposition 487, which was backed by billionaire John Arnold.

Arnold, a former Enron executive and Texas hedge fund billionaire, has taken aim at public worker pensions in many such efforts across the nation. Among other things, he gave PBS $3.5 million for “The Pension Peril,” an attack against public worker pensions thinly disguised as objective reporting.  And he gave $4.5 million to The Pew Charitable Trusts to fund anti-pension research.

Now a new microsite called “The Truth about John Arnold” will reveal the scope of Arnold’s ambitions to demolish the retirement security of public workers across the nation, according to the National Public Pension Coalition and Californians for Retirement Security, which are launching the site.

“For the first time, you’ll be able to track just how much money John Arnold has spent to gut the retirement security of firefighters, police officers, teachers, and millions of other public employees all across the country,” wrote Reesa B. Kossoff, deputy executive director of the National Public Pension Coalition.

The new site will be launched during a webinar on Thursday, March 19, at 2 p.m. EDT.

Click here to register for the webinar.

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Suspect in Oregon Killing of AFSCME Member Faces Murder Charge http://www.afscme.org/blog/suspect-in-oregon-killing-of-afscme-member-faces-murder-charge Tue, 17 Mar 2015 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/suspect-in-oregon-killing-of-afscme-member-faces-murder-charge A suspect who allegedly shot and killed Grady Waxenfelter, a member of AFSCME Oregon Local 350, Council 75, could spend the rest of his life in prison if found guilty on a murder charge.

Dirck M. White, 42, is currently in custody in Los Angeles facing the murder charge after he allegedly fired at police officers in November. He has an extensive criminal record and is also wanted in Washington state for weapons violations and in connection to a child rape investigation.

Waxenfelter was an assistant weighmaster with Clackamas County, Oregon, when he pulled over White’s truck on Feb. 6, 2014 to conduct an inspection. White’s truck was carrying firewood. Weighmasters help ensure that trucks and commercial vehicles meet certain safety standards. It’s likely that Waxenfelter wanted to inform White he needed a license plate on his trailer.

After a brief pursuit, the two vehicles came to a stop. Waxenfelter, 47, died from a gunshot wound to the head. He is survived by his wife Tedra Waxenfelter, two daughters and one son.

Waxenfelter began work for Clackamas County as a mechanic in 1997 and served as weighmaster since 2005. After he was killed, the county was fined for not properly training and equipping weighmasters to perform such stops. The county also settled with Waxenfelter’s widow in a wrongful death lawsuit.

White is expected to be extradited to Oregon to face charges. A speedy resolution to this case would bring much needed closure to Waxenfelter’s family and friends, of which he had many.

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Missouri Home Care Recipients Seek Stronger Voice http://www.afscme.org/blog/missouri-home-care-recipients-seek-stronger-voice Tue, 17 Mar 2015 11:36:32 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/missouri-home-care-recipients-seek-stronger-voice The Missouri Legislature is considering a bill that would cut back the number of home care consumers on an important advisory committee, giving the home care industry majority power over people most affected by the program.

Voters overwhelmingly chose in 2008 to reserve six of the 11 seats on the Quality Home Care Council for care consumers, allowing seniors and people with disabilities to make decisions about their own care. But the proposed bill would cut that number to three seats. 

The council was established to address the major issues in the home care industry, including the growing need for services and providers’ working conditions. Thousands of Missouri care workers are paid less than $9 per hour, leading to high turnover and diminished quality of care. Along with Missouri Home Care Union (AFSCME and SEIU), consumers have been advocating for a system that allows both caregivers and care recipients to live with dignity. But they’ve faced opposition from the home care corporations.

This week, four consumers from around the state traveled to Jefferson City to tell the Legislature that it must respect the voices of consumers. Kyle Auxier and Mary Woods told a House committee how home care allows them to lead independent, self-directed lives.

“A majority voice was placed in the hands of consumers because the very idea of consumer-directed services is based upon consumers having real and meaningful control over their own circumstances,” they said in a statement delivered to the committee and signed by more than 100 care consumers from around the state.

“We won’t be cheated out of controlling our own lives,” says Linda White, a consumer from Saint Joseph.  “It was painful sitting in the hearings in Jeff City. And it is now so clear to me that consumers like me know a lot more about what is needed and what needs to change than the lawmakers and companies. We must hold on to our majority voice.”

 

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Chicago Cab Drivers Learn to Advocate for Themselves http://www.afscme.org/blog/chicago-cab-drivers-learn-to-advocate-for-themselves Fri, 13 Mar 2015 13:29:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/chicago-cab-drivers-learn-to-advocate-for-themselves

CHICAGO – Members of Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Council 31 came together in early March to complete a Driver Advocate training program, which adapted Council 31’s traditional steward training to meet the needs of a non-traditional workforce.

Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Council 31 members Ezz Abdelmagid and Michael Agunloye put their newly learned skills to good use.

Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Council 31 members Ezz Abdelmagid and Michael Agunloye put their newly learned skills to good use.

The training was designed to provide the tools and knowledge necessary to assist fellow drivers in standing up for their rights as they navigate the court system set up by the City of Chicago to enforce taxi regulations.  The court, commonly referred to by its address, “400 W. Superior,” has long been a source of outrage among drivers who feel powerless to defend themselves in the face of a city machine designed to extract revenue and deny them basic due process rights.

“We’re learning how to assist drivers with various issues at 400 West Superior,” said John Hilt, a veteran cab driver and Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Council 31 member. “Drivers are treated very badly as a rule. They’re often charged fines that they don’t have to pay.  Many of them don’t understand their rights, or even simple procedures, and so they’re very easily taken advantage of.”

Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Council 31 is operating on two fronts: pushing for regulatory changes to make the system more just, and advocating within the system to ensure drivers are treated with respect. The program looks to graduate approximately 30 “Driver Advocates,” and will enable graduates to help their colleagues take charge in a system designed to confuse and intimidate. 

Just days after completing the training two driver advocates, Ezz Abdelmagid and Michael Agunloye, put their new skills in action to help a rookie cab driver prepare for his hearing and get the case against him dismissed.

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New Mexico Right-to-Work Bill Defeated in Committee http://www.afscme.org/blog/new-mexico-right-to-work-bill-defeated-in-committee Fri, 13 Mar 2015 12:06:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/new-mexico-right-to-work-bill-defeated-in-committee SANTA FE, New Mexico – The right-to-work scam was voted down by the pro-worker majority on the New Mexico Senate Public Affairs Committee, a huge victory for labor and community activists who were speaking out against the controversial proposal in public hearings, rallies and town hall meetings.

By blocking the measure, the committee took a giant step toward saving New Mexico’s economy, and reaffirmed the importance of workers’ fundamental right to join together to advocate for better working conditions.

“I’d like to thank the members of the Senate committee who voted against this attack on the working men and women of New Mexico,” said Casper Cly, a member of the Laborers International Union of North America. “As a young man in the workforce, I strongly oppose legislation that would take away our voice and representation.”

The bill was defeated just a day after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker defied thousands of Wisconsinites by signing a right-to-work bill into law. New Mexico legislators, fortunately, saw the bill for what it really is—an attack on the middle class. After hearing more than two hours of public testimony from concerned citizens on Sunday, the eight-member committee voted to table the bill by a party line, 5-3. 

 “We are so grateful to the senators who helped to ensure the prosperity of New Mexico’s economy tonight by voting down terrible right-to-work legislation. We also want to thank the senators who protected the committee process and voted to stop the fast-tracking of HB 75 on the Senate floor, as well as the House members who fought valiantly to oppose right-to-work in their chamber,” said Brenda Watson, a librarian and member of AFSCME Local 477. “We look forward to all our elected officials working together toward solutions to benefit all of our state now that this distraction has been put to rest, and we will take action to protect against any Hail Mary moves to bring these dead bills back to life.”

This legislative session marks the first time the right-to-work scam was introduced in New Mexico since 1979 and 1981. In both years, then-Gov. Bruce King vetoed bills passed by the Democratic-controlled Legislatures. The current governor, Susana Martinez, a Republican, supports the legislation.

Labor and community groups will continue working together to support a “Ready to Work” package of bills creating more than 70,000 new jobs. The package includes funding for job training, local roads and highway jobs to improve infrastructure, and investment in schools by providing them with the necessary tools to prepare children to be part of a 21st century workforce.

 

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AFSCME Activists Commemorate Selma March http://www.afscme.org/blog/afscme-activists-commemorate-selma-march Fri, 13 Mar 2015 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/afscme-activists-commemorate-selma-march ATLANTA – It was 50 years ago last Sunday that peaceful civil rights activists, marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, were met by a brutal attack by state troopers. Their brave stand (they returned to march twice more) led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

On March 8, tens of thousands of demonstrators came out to remember and honor the activists who made history that day, and inspired federal protections for voting rights. Among the celebrants was AFSCME Sec.-Treas. Laura Reyes and more than 100 members of AFSCME Local 3, employees of Fulton County, and members from Local 1644 who are employees of the City of Atlanta, the Atlanta Public Schools System and Sodexo.

“Seeing these heroes was just tremendous,” Reyes said, “particularly Amelia Boynton Robinson, an organizer of the march who is now 103 years old. She was beaten and tear-gassed in that march, and today she held President Obama’s hand from her wheelchair at the head of the march across the bridge. It was very moving.”

Reyes criticized a 2013 Supreme Court decision that impaired the Voting Rights Act by allowing jurisdictions with a history of voting discrimination to change their voting laws without “pre-clearance” from the Justice Department.  That led to many states and localities making it harder to vote, especially for minorities and seniors.

The Atlanta activists were also moved by the experience. “I am humbled, moved and excited by today’s events,” said Evelyn Hughley, bus operator with Atlanta Public Schools, AFSCME Local 1644. “What happened here was pivotal in the struggle for civil rights and voting rights. The struggle continues today and we have to carry the legacy of those who took a stand for justice 50 years ago. We have to keep fighting for the rights of all people.”

“This was truly an inspiring experience,” said Tywanta Head, also a bus operator with the school system. “Walking in the footsteps of brave women and men like Congressman John Lewis and others who were here 50 years ago empowers you to keep fighting for equality. We have to keep moving forward because going backward is not an option.”

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Quick Action Saves Seven from Burning House http://www.afscme.org/blog/quick-action-saves-seven-from-burning-house Thu, 12 Mar 2015 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/quick-action-saves-seven-from-burning-house Seven Coeymans, New York, residents can thank quick action by local police dispatch, officers and firefighters for saving their lives last month.

Within 44 seconds from receiving the call Feb. 13, Coeymans police dispatchers David Debacco and Sue Leonardo had police officers on their way. Upon arriving on scene, AFSCME Local 2647 member Brian Rinaldi located seven people on the roof of their back porch as their house was engulfed in flames.

Officer Rinaldi quickly responded, aided by fellow officer John Favata, and cleared a path through the snow and debris to allow for the fire ladder to reach the residents. Firefighter Robert Domanico climbed the ladder and handed the children down to Officers Rinaldi and Favata and collectively they assisted the adults to safety.

“As a result of the quick and selfless acts of bravery on behalf of all personnel involved in the events of Feb. 13, seven lives were saved that day,” wrote Coeymans Chief of Police P.J. McKenna in a letter honoring dispatch for their quick response and the bravery of the officers and firefighters involved.

“This is the work that we do every day,” said AFSCME Council 82 Exec. Dir. James Lyman. “Countless women and men go to work every day with one intention: to make our communities safer. These actions exemplify the commitment public safety officers bring to the job.”

The town of Coeymans is examining transferring emergency services to the county. Police and residents together are concerned with these cuts in services. “Efforts to minimize the importance of local emergency services disregard the bravery exhibited on that day and are ill-advised,” said AFSCME Local 2647 Pres. Joseph Dunn.

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