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 Talks Resume for San Diego's Sharp Nurses http://www.afscme.org/blog/talks-resume-for-san-diegos-sharp-nurses Wed, 30 Nov 2016 17:45:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/talks-resume-for-san-diegos-sharp-nurses It's back to the bargaining table for the registered nurses at San Diego’s Sharp HealthCare, whose plan for a three-day strike starting Monday was called off after management offered improvements to their earlier proposal.

"Over the past week, Sharp has made slight improvements in some of their proposals addressing nurse turnover,” said Christina Magnusen, RN, president of Sharp Professional Nurses Network (SPNN), an affiliate of the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP). “Sharp seems to now recognize the need to be in a better position to recruit nurses, and keep them once they’ve spent the money to train and orient them, so they will stay and make a career at Sharp. We remain hopeful that we can more fully tackle this crucial issue and complete the contract."

Negotiations resumed Tuesday.

The key issue – nurse recruitment and retention – has been the sticking point as the nurses contend that inadequate pay is the cause of high turnover at the Southern California hospital chain. More than 500 nurses have left the company in just the first nine months of this year because hourly pay is $8 to $15 less than what other nurses earn at area health organizations.

Talks to craft a contract that addresses such concerns, and others, have been going on since July. In October, more than 300 nurses and allies gathered in solidarity with Sharp Healthcare nurses at the San Diego Convention Center.

A 10-day strike notice demonstrated to management that the nurses were committed to resolving the recruitment and retention problem, and ending what the nurses said was Sharp’s repeated violations of federal labor law, including prematurely abandoning negotiations.

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What Do We Want? $15! When Do We Want It? Now! http://www.afscme.org/blog/what-do-we-want-15-when-do-we-want-it-now Wed, 30 Nov 2016 14:55:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/what-do-we-want-15-when-do-we-want-it-now Last week, skycaps, baggage handlers and cabin cleaners worked extra hard, on the busiest days of the year, to get air travelers to their Thanksgiving destinations as safely and efficiently as possible.

This week, they’re insisting on fair pay for all the important work they do.

On Tuesday, AFSCME joined SEIU, UNITE-HERE, other unions, faith and community leaders for a rally at Washington National Airport to insist on a $15 an hour wage and a union for airport contract workers.

Hundreds of people gathered to stand in solidarity with the workers, many of whom are living in poverty, making less than $7 per hour plus unreliable tips. Aynalem Lale, a wheelchair dispatcher at Dulles Airport, spoke about her daily struggle and what a well-deserved raise would mean in her life.

“If I made $15 an hour,” she said, “I would only [need] one job, and I would not have to sleep in the airport between jobs.” She added: “We deserve respect and…job security and enough to support our families.”

Following the rally, the crowd marched nearly a mile to the other end of the airport to present the demand for a raise at the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority offices. Workers also authorized a vote to strike during the December holidays.

This airport march and rally was just one of more than 300 events occurring nationwide, to mark four years to the day since the launch of the Fight for $15 movement. Tens of thousands of people participated in protests and demonstrations, a day of disruption that included acts of civil disobedience in front of McDonald’s restaurants from coast to coast.

The Fight for $15 has enjoyed resounding success in a short period of time, already leading to wage increases for more than 22 million people. But AFSCME and its partners won’t quit fighting until all working families get the dignity and respect they deserve, until they get at least the $15 per hour it takes to make ends meet.

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Trump: Where the Rubber Hits the Road http://www.afscme.org/blog/trump-where-the-rubber-hits-the-road Wed, 30 Nov 2016 14:54:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/trump-where-the-rubber-hits-the-road Last week, families came together to express gratitude for all the blessings in our lives. If your Thanksgiving table was anything like mine, there was plenty of lively debate about politics and current affairs, about what a Trump administration will mean for our country’s future.

First, it cannot mean a rise in hate speech. It must not mean attacks on women, religious minorities, LGBTQ people and communities of color.

There’s no question that white nationalists have been emboldened by this election, or that Donald Trump has stoked fear and resentment for political advantage. This has to stop, and the president-elect has an obligation to stop it. It’s the very opposite of what makes America great.

If he is truly committed to unity and healing, there may be opportunities for cooperation — perhaps on infrastructure investment, as long as it provides good-paying jobs and not just corporate boondoggles. I don’t believe obstructionism should be our default position, as it was for the right wing from the moment President Obama was elected. There’s too much at stake for short-term political brinkmanship. We in the labor movement and the progressive community will work with President-elect Trump when — but only when — doing so aligns with our values.

The Trump campaign tapped into legitimate frustration on the part of so many working people. It’s time to address this economic insecurity, and we will hold the president-elect’s feet to the fire to ensure that he does.

But in many cases, the Trump governing agenda seems to contradict the Trump campaign platform.

If fighting for the forgotten woman and man is the president-elect’s goal, for example, it’s unclear how trillions in tax cuts for the wealthy get us there. The same goes for a rollback of the Obama administration rule allowing millions more Americans to receive overtime pay. And if wresting power from the elites is a defining principle of a Trump presidency, does it make any sense to undo regulations that rein in greed and excess on Wall Street?

For generations, it’s been the labor movement that has led the way in lifting living standards for working people. Why, then, would someone who claims to be working people’s champion pursue a national right-to-work law that would crush collective bargaining rights? Although Trump suggested he would shore up the retirement safety net, there are indications that he will move to privatize Medicare and convert Medicaid to a block grant program.

Such an approach would mean Draconian benefit cuts inflicting pain and hardship on millions of people. It is also deeply unpopular. Recent polling shows that 80 percent of Trump voters believe “protecting Social Security and Medicare” should be a priority for the incoming administration and new Congress.

Donald Trump was elected on a pledge to help working people. Now is his chance to show us, not tell us. We will give him every opportunity to prove his sincerity, and we will not miss an opportunity to oppose him if he doesn’t.

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15 Million+ Reasons to be Grateful This Thanksgiving. You’ll Be Surprised! http://www.afscme.org/blog/15-million-reasons-to-be-grateful-this-thanksgiving-youll-be-surprised Thu, 24 Nov 2016 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/15-million-reasons-to-be-grateful-this-thanksgiving-youll-be-surprised It's not the number of possible recipes for your Thanksgiving meal. It's the number of Americans who work in private-sector retail, many of whom are required to work on the holiday rather than spend the entire day with their families. Some of them have more rights, thanks to their union.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) represents thousands of these dedicated employees nationwide. They are encouraging you to support union-friendly retailers. That includes fashion retailer Zara, Modell’s Sporting Goods and Macy’s. Also Bloomingdale’s, H&M, Book Culture and Harry’s Shoes, just to name a few. All are businesses where the employees have rights and a voice on the job through RWDSU.

"These workers have strong union contracts that give them strong wages and benefits, and mandate fair scheduling practices,” RWDSU says. “But for countless non-union retail workers, the 21st century presents a number of challenges.”

So as you sit down with your family for that special meal, please remember that there are many who can’t. They’re retail workers without a voice on the job who will be there waiting when you’re done with your feast – and on Black Friday. They deserve better. So let’s give them some respect and support when you’re shopping.

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Judge Blocks Obama Rule Giving Overtime to Millions http://www.afscme.org/blog/judge-blocks-obama-rule-giving-overtime-to-millions Wed, 23 Nov 2016 14:17:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/judge-blocks-obama-rule-giving-overtime-to-millions In a huge blow for millions of workers, a federal judge in Texas has blocked the Obama administration’s new rule that would grant automatic overtime pay to workers making more than $47,476 per year. “This is an extreme and unsupportable decision and is a clear overreach by the Court,” said the Economic Policy Institute in a statement.

The new cap — a rise from $23,660, would have ensured that millions of workers across the country are paid the overtime they’re entitled to for the work they do. The rule was supposed to go into effect December 1, but Judge Amos Mazzant of the Eastern District of Texas issued an injunction against the rule going into effect.

The Obama administration estimates the rule would have given 4.2 million workers the overtime pay they deserve, and helped a total of 12.5 million people by strengthening the current overtime rule.

“In this month’s election, voters spoke loudly and clearly about their economic anxiety,” said AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders. “Blocking the overtime rule, which would have given millions of Americans a raise, is a cruel slap in their face.”

The big winners in this decision are corporations who now will get out of paying fair wages to employees making more than $23,660 who work more than 40 hours a week. Their allies like the Chamber of Commerce, along with right-wing elected officials, have pushed to defeat the new rule.

The judge’s decision flies in the face of previous precedent, which for decades has given the Labor Department the authority to set a threshold for salaried workers. By rejecting that threshold, the judge makes it much easier for employers to declare that salaried workers are ineligible for overtime. It also allows more abuse of the overtime system as it adds confusion to who is eligible and who isn't.

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Providing Economic Security for All Generations http://www.afscme.org/blog/providing-economic-security-for-all-generations-laura-reyes Wed, 23 Nov 2016 12:47:56 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/providing-economic-security-for-all-generations-laura-reyes Serving as your secretary-treasurer gives me the opportunity to work closely with members in both the dawn and the twilight of their careers.

I love the enduring energy that AFSCME Retirees and Next Wave bring to AFSCME, whether working on retirement security or shining a light on issues like student debt.

Protecting Our Future

Our retirees are fighting to ensure that all retirees can live in dignity after a lifelong commitment to making our communities stronger. Millions of Americans are in danger of not having enough money to maintain their standard of living after they’ve reached the end of their working years. Meanwhile, right-wing politicians continue to attack the pensions we have earned, while threatening to shred the retirement safety net. For so many people a Social Security check is their only source of income, and they couldn’t visit the doctor if it weren’t for Medicare.

Meanwhile, our Next Wavers are fighting for their rights just as they are getting a foothold in their careers. In an economy that can be tough sledding for workers of all ages, they often face the additional pressure of starting adulthood buried under an avalanche of debt. Total student loan debt nationwide now exceeds $1 trillion (yes, that’s trillion with a “t”).

An Economy for People of all Ages

With the election behind us, we need to make sure the incoming administration truly understands the pressures working families face — and often, the intergenerational nature of those pressures. During his campaign, President-elect Trump said he would shore up Social Security and Medicare; we need to make sure he keeps his word. Privatization would mean deep benefit cuts that would drive many retirees into poverty. And if we’re going to make America even greater than it already is, we can’t put young people in such a deep financial hole before their work lives even begin.

The stakes in the coming years are high for all of us — and certainly for our retirees and Next Wave. We need to build an economy that works for everyone, providing greater security for young and old and everyone in between. But it will only happen if we honor our debt of gratitude to our retirees, and if we recognize the need to invest in the workforce of tomorrow.

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Thank These Folks for Getting You Safely to Your Family http://www.afscme.org/blog/planes-trains-and-automobiles-thank-these-folks-for-getting-you-safely-to-your-family Wed, 23 Nov 2016 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/planes-trains-and-automobiles-thank-these-folks-for-getting-you-safely-to-your-family Thanksgiving is stressful enough without worrying about getting to your destination safely, on time, and with the least difficulty. You probably have a union member to thank for getting you to your destination, whether you travel by train, plane or automobile.

Nearly 49 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from their homes this holiday, according to AAA, a nearly 2 percent increase over last year. More than 89 percent of them will drive. You can thank union-represented transportation workers – many of whom are AFSCME members – for designing, building, maintaining and operating our streets, highways, airports and other public transport facilities.

Let’s not forget the law enforcement officers out there, away from their families, ensuring traffic safety on the busy roads. Many of them are AFSCME members, too. But no matter which union represents them, they’re all working for you. Your safety is their number one priority.

If you take to the air, you’ll bump into a union member working hard to get you safely to your family. From the luggage handlers at curbside check-in, to the customer service agent at the ticketing desk, approximately 80,000 workers – ramp agents, mechanics, dispatch personnel, among others – are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters’ Airline Division.

More than 45,000 airline industry workers, including firefighters, paramedics and mechanics, are members of the Transport Workers Union of America. And flight attendants do more than bring snacks to help you keep comfortable once you’re in your seat. Just watch the movie “Sully” to remember the critical work they do. So thank the 50,000 flight attendants who are members of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) when you travel by air this week.

Your pilots are card-carrying union members too! Thanks to the 54,000 pilots at 31 U.S. and Canadian airlines who are members of the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA). Your safety is their first priority, and making sure they can do their job in the safest manner possible is the job of their union.

Catching a train? The 55,000 members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) deserve our thanks too. The union represents locomotive engineers, conductors, brakemen, firemen, switchmen and other employees who work on the railroads.

Going by bus? Thank the members of the Amalgamated Transit Union, more than 197,000 in 253 local unions in 47 states (and nine Canadian) provinces, including 3,000 workers at Greyhound Lines, Inc. In addition to bus drivers, ATU represents light rail operators, maintenance and clerical personnel and other transit and municipal employees.

Even if you’re just staying home for the holidays, waiting for friends and relatives from other places, remember to thank all the hardworking union members who are out there this holiday to ensure that everyone who does travel gets to enjoy the good food and family that they set out for, whether by train, plane or automobile.

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COSH Conference Will Be a Post-Election Strategy Session http://www.afscme.org/blog/cosh-conference-will-be-a-post-election-strategy-session Wed, 23 Nov 2016 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/cosh-conference-will-be-a-post-election-strategy-session Union members and staffers who wish to understand the coming changes in worker safety rules and regulations will be among those attending the 2016 Conference of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH), to be held in Linthicum Heights, Maryland, just outside Baltimore, from Dec. 6-8.

To sign up for the conference, register here.

The event will be an opportunity to discuss:

  • how to organize in a new political and economic environment;
  • what to expect from employers and regulatory agencies like OSHA, MSHA and others;
  • and how we can support each other in our workplaces, states and local communities.

In addition to union members and staffers, participants will include workers’ centers seeking new ways to protect undocumented and vulnerable populations; COSH groups trying to understand how the future will play out for non-profits; and occupational health and safety professionals seeking new ways to share and expand best practices in workplace safety.

COSH is a federation of local and statewide committees and coalitions on occupational safety and health. COSH groups are private, non-profit coalitions of labor unions, health and technical professionals, and others interested in promoting and advocating for worker health and safety.

Attend the COSH 2016 Conference by registering here.

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AFSCME Supports Rallying Airport Workers http://www.afscme.org/blog/afscme-supports-rallying-airport-workers Tue, 22 Nov 2016 16:58:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/afscme-supports-rallying-airport-workers Airport workers in the Washington, DC area, as well as Los Angeles, Boston and other cities are rightfully protesting and raising their voices to demand wage raises and better working conditions.

Some wheelchair attendants, baggage carriers and others who work at Ronald Reagan and Dulles airports earn as little as $6.75 an hour. Although the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority implements a living wage policy that applies to many airport workers, said policy doesn’t help employees of companies that contract directly with individual airlines.

These workers have joined the Fight for $15 campaign to demand no less than $15 an hour. Under their current salaries, many of them can’t afford to pay rent or even transportation to and from work. And some report sleeping in their cars for lack of time to go home between shifts.

On Nov. 29, workers at 20 airports will hold rallies to make their voices heard. That includes 500 workers at Chicago O’Hare International who may later walk out of their jobs to protest low wages, inadequate working conditions and retaliation against union organizing efforts.

These workers will be joined by fast-food employees in 340 cities, as well as child care workers, home care providers and others whose wages normally fall below $15 an hour.

AFSCME supports the Fight for $15, and we will continue to stand with airport workers and others who deserve better pay and working conditions. Sign up to attend the rallies.

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This Thanksgiving, Make Sure You Shop Union http://www.afscme.org/blog/this-thanksgiving-make-sure-you-shop-union Mon, 21 Nov 2016 15:58:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/this-thanksgiving-make-sure-you-shop-union Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends and food. Lots of food. Whether you're going for the traditional turkey, stuffing and gravy or celebrating in your own way, chances are you are headed to the grocery store at least once in the next few days.

Click here for a list of UFCW supermarket and grocery store chains.

People choose their grocery stores for all sorts of reasons: because it's close to home, because of quality and certainly because of price. But as you're deciding where to shop this Thanksgiving, there's another important factor to keep in mind: which stores support our union sisters and brothers.

The United Food and Commercial Workers represents supermarket employees all across the country, in many different stores. We all know union workers make more money, have better benefits, have a more secure retirement, and work in safer conditions than non-union workers. So what better way to send a message and strike a blow for fairness this Thanksgiving than to shop at union stores?

Some of the bigger chains with employees represented by UFCW include Safeway, Shop Rite, and Super Fresh. For a complete list, click here. And once you’re in the store, you can buy union-made food too!

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Here’s Your Union-Made in America Thanksgiving Shopping List http://www.afscme.org/blog/heres-your-union-made-in-america-thanksgiving-shopping-list Sat, 19 Nov 2016 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/heres-your-union-made-in-america-thanksgiving-shopping-list Before you put together your Thanksgiving dinner shopping list, check our list of union-made in America food and other items that are essential to a traditional family Thanksgiving feast. Speaking of thanks, a big thank you to the Union Label and Service Trades Department (ULSTD), Union Plus and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor's resource site, Labor 411, for compiling their extensive catalogs of union-made products.

Here are some of the best union-made Thanksgiving eats and cookware from the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM); Machinists (IAM); United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW); and United Steelworkers (USW).

For appetizers:

  • Keebler (Kellogg) crackers—BCTGM
  • Kraft/Nabisco crackers—BCTGM
  • Nabisco (Mondelēz) crackers—BCTGM. Nabisco note: Remember to check the label on Oreos and all Nabisco-brand products and do not buy Made-in-Mexico Nabisco products.

Turkey 

  • Boar's Head—UFCW
  • Butterball—UFCW
  • Foster Farms—UFCW
  • Thumann's—UFCW

Side Dishes

  • Birds Eye vegetables—UFCW
  • Ocean Spray whole berry cranberry sauce—IAM

Bread 

  • Pillsbury crescent rolls, frozen and ready to bake rolls/breads—BCTGM
  • Pillsbury pie crusts—BCTGM
  • Stroehmann bakery products (for stuffing)—BCTGM

Dessert

  • Nabisco (Mondelēz) cookies—BCTGM 
  • Rich Products pies and cakes—BCTGM
  • Sara Lee pumpkin and apple pies—BCTGM

Cookware/Cutlery

  • All-Clad cookware—USW
  • Anchor Hocking—USW
  • CorningWare—USW
  • Cutco knives—USW
  • Fiestaware—USW
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California Nurses to Strike 3 Days This Month to Improve Patient Care http://www.afscme.org/blog/california-nurses-to-strike-3-days-this-month-to-improve-patient-care Fri, 18 Nov 2016 13:08:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/california-nurses-to-strike-3-days-this-month-to-improve-patient-care Calling it a “last resort,” registered nurses at San Diego’s Sharp HealthCare formally put management on notice that they will strike for three days starting Nov. 28 over unfair labor practices by the employer during contract negotiations aimed at reducing high turnover due to inadequate pay.

Turnover at the Southern California hospital chain is significant. Their union,  UNAC/UHCP (affiliated with the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees [NUHHCE]/AFSCME), says more than 500 nurses have left the company in just the first nine months of this year because it pays $8 to $15 per hour less than what other nurses earn at area health organizations.

Negotiations have been going on since July. To build public support, more than 300 nurses, health care professionals, clergy, students, UNAC and allies and a lawmaker gathered in solidarity this October with Sharp Healthcare nurses at the San Diego Convention Center.

On Thursday, UNAC/UHCP submitted a 10-day strike notice to management, noting that the union intends to strike for three days. A strike is always a last resort,” the union said in a statement. “But we must do whatever it takes to stop Sharp’s repeated violations of federal labor law and refusal to address patient care problems caused by an escalating crisis in nurse turnover.”

Earlier this month, Sharp RNs overwhelmingly voted to reject management's so-called “last, best and final offer” and authorize an unfair labor practices (ULP) strike. Ninety-eight percent of 2,203 nurses who cast ballots voted to authorize the unfair labor practice strike.

In a Q & A for members, the union stated, “Among other violations of federal labor law, Sharp has refused to negotiate a fair contract by prematurely abandoning negotiations and unilaterally implementing proposals that inadequately address our concerns and hamper our efforts to boost recruitment and retention of quality RNs so that we can provide the best possible patient care.”

Sharp operates four hospitals in the San Diego area and employs approximately 17,000 workers.

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Insomniac Games Is Sleeping on New Contract http://www.afscme.org/blog/insomniac-games-is-sleeping-on-new-contract Thu, 17 Nov 2016 14:43:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/insomniac-games-is-sleeping-on-new-contract Today, members of the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) are on a picket line at Insomniac Games, Inc., in Burbank, Calif.

For more than 19 months, they have been trying to negotiate a contract with employers in the video game industry, but their voices aren’t being heard. Video game actors deserve a fair contract and safe working conditions.

That’s why AFSCME is joining our sisters and brothers on a virtual picket line. Express your support on Facebook and Twitter by using the hashtag #PerformanceMatters.

Join the virtual picket line on social media!

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On the 2016 Election Results http://www.afscme.org/blog/on-the-2016-election-results Wed, 09 Nov 2016 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/on-the-2016-election-results As we take stock of the message voters sent yesterday, we see that many were motivated by a real, palpable fear for their ability to provide for their families.

We must come together now to address that economic insecurity while not falling prey to the politics of division and hate. We must focus on rebuilding the middle class and restoring the American Dream for everyone, not just the privileged few.

For our part, the 1.6 million public service workers of AFSCME will never quit working to make their communities safer, healthier and better places to live.

We will do what we do best to hold President-elect Trump accountable on his promise to restore the American Dream: organize and advocate for solutions for all working people, from affordable health care for all, to reducing student debt, to rebuilding America’s infrastructure.

Lee Saunders is the President of AFSCME.

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Jerome Richardson: Caring for People with Disabilities http://www.afscme.org/blog/jerome-richardson-caring-for-people-with-disabilities Sat, 05 Nov 2016 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/jerome-richardson-caring-for-people-with-disabilities In this year’s general election, there is only one candidate running for President with a track record of standing for public service workers, fighting for the middle class, and defending collective bargaining rights. That candidate is Hillary Clinton.

This is why Jerome Richardson is voting for her.

"I work in a long-term care facility, where I help disabled or physically challenged clients. A lot of them have cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis or they’re victims of gunshot wounds.

"When they come in they’re already mad at the world because their families put them in there, and they take their rage out on the first person they see, who is their caregiver.

"Our job is to go past all that and realize that we’re giving a service to human beings, people who are in pain. It requires a lot of compassion and mental strength.

"I support Hillary because she’s shown me that she has a lot of compassion and mental strength, and I respect that. She’s gone through so much, and it takes a strong will to tolerate what she’s been through and still have the will and desire to work hard for the benefit of others."

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South Florida Immigration Clinic Helping Members Become Citizens http://www.afscme.org/blog/south-florida-immigration-clinic-helping-members-become-citizens Fri, 04 Nov 2016 12:16:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/south-florida-immigration-clinic-helping-members-become-citizens Maria Leyani, a Miami-Dade school bus driver and longtime member of AFSCME Local 1184, recently completed her application to become a U.S. citizen. Maria and her husband – both immigrants from El Salvador – finished their applications at the South Florida AFL-CIO CLC's Citizenship Clinic on October 22.

“When I heard that the union was offering this service to its members and their families, I decided that I would seize the opportunity,” said Leyani, who had previously balked at the $6,000 an immigration attorney wanted to complete her and her husband's applications.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders recently joined Florida AFSCME members to tour the Citizenship Clinic, a joint project of the Florida Immigration Coalition and the Florida AFL-CIO. “Our members are committed to this program and have consistently told us this should be a priority for our union,” said Andre Madtes, executive director of AFSCME 979 and the President of South Florida CLC. “AFSCME Florida members not only benefit from this program – they are volunteering for it as well.” Madtes says helping members become citizens only adds to the union's bargaining strength.

Leyani is looking forward to voting. “While we are not eligible to vote for this presidential election,” she said, “my husband and I will be voting in next year’s city and county races. We will never miss another presidential or local election ever again and we plan on becoming civically engaged as soon as we become U.S. citizens next year!”

The South Florida CLC's next immigration clinic is scheduled for December 6.

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Mikky Anne Carlson: Working to Create a Strong Middle Class http://www.afscme.org/blog/mikky-anne-carlson-working-to-create-a-strong-middle-class Fri, 04 Nov 2016 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/mikky-anne-carlson-working-to-create-a-strong-middle-class In this year’s general election, there is only one candidate running for President with a track record of standing for public service workers, fighting for the middle class, and defending collective bargaining rights. That candidate is Hillary Clinton.

This is why Mikky Anne Carlson is voting for her.

"When I was growing up, my family lived the American Dream. My parents owned a home and their mortgage had a reasonable interest rate. Child care was affordable. I was able to go to college on a Stafford loan and other programs that just don’t exist today. I’m very concerned that the next generation won't be able to achieve the American Dream.

"When I became an adult I started to see the connection between affordable housing and the middle class. When I became a state worker, the program that I ran helped nearly 3,000 first-time home buyers annually. I am proud of that work to build a stronger Iowa community.

"Home ownership is an underpinning of the American Dream. I was able to enjoy a middle class lifestyle in part because I am a union member and a homeowner. Now that I’m retired, I depend on my pension. I support Hillary Clinton because she understands that connection between unions and the middle class. She’ll do the things we need to do to have a strong middle class America. Hillary will protect my pension."

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Cynthia Johnson: Standing Firm on Social Security http://www.afscme.org/blog/cynthia-johnson-standing-firm-on-social-security Thu, 03 Nov 2016 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/cynthia-johnson-standing-firm-on-social-security In this year's general election, there is only one candidate running for President with a track record of standing for public service workers, fighting for the middle class, and defending collective bargaining rights. That candidate is Hillary Clinton.

This is why Cynthia Johnson is voting for her.

"The reason I support and will vote for Hillary Clinton is that she is standing firm on Social Security and Medicare. I learned about the importance of Medicare and Social Security because of my father.

"As he got older, he started having hip problems and went to a surgeon, who asked him, ‘How did you physically get into this room?’ He said, ‘I walked.’ The doctor pointed to the X-rays and said, ‘There’s no way you should be able to walk because you are bone on bone and it’s deteriorating.’

"My father had to have both hips replaced. Because he had Medicare, my sister and I didn’t have to take out any major loans for him to have surgery. He was self-employed, so the only thing he has to live on in retirement is Social Security.

"It’s not a lot of money, but it lets him sustain himself in a moderate lifestyle. It’s important for him, and everyone in the United States who depends on Social Security, that we protect this program."

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More Than 1,000 AFSCME Members Flood Battleground States http://www.afscme.org/blog/more-than-1000-afscme-members-flood-battleground-states Thu, 03 Nov 2016 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/more-than-1000-afscme-members-flood-battleground-states For the past two months, not a weekend has passed without AFSCME members descending on battleground states. Members from New York, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts and California awoke at the crack of dawn to board buses bound for battlegrounds like Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Hampshire and Nevada. Members knocked tens of thousands of doors and made hundreds of phone calls to get out the vote throughout our country.

Getting Out the Vote in the Buckeye State

“When talking to members about this defining election, it is important for them to hear from their fellow union members,” said Yvonne Griffin, City of Cleveland Tax Division. “It is nice to have the extra boots on the ground to help spread the word. We can talk to more people. This is what solidarity looks like.” This election will be won or lost based on our ability to turn out the votes for our candidates.

Key Health Care Issues in the Keystone State

“As a unit clerk at Temple University Hospital, I see how political choices impact people’s everyday life,” said 1199C member, Charlene Cooper. “Sometimes my patients have to make real, sobering decisions about purchasing their medicine,” added Cooper. “Our Senate candidate Katie McGinty and Secretary Hillary Clinton have both said they’ll do everything they can to lower the price of prescription drugs. I’m thankful for my AFSCME sisters and brothers who came to help me spread that message.”

On September 15, AFSCME DC 33, along with DC 47 and 1199C NUHHCE, co-hosted a huge rally with members from New York DC 37 and 1707 and Maryland Councils 3 and 67. On that Saturday alone, members knocked more than 5,000 doors in Philadelphia.

Living Free in the Granite State

“This election could not be more important,” said Joe Anderson, wastewater mechanic with the city of Nassau. “We are out knocking doors because Right-to-Work-for-Less would be on the ballot if we lose. The extra lift from our New York sisters and brothers reminded us that we are not alone and stronger together.” Members from CSEA/Local 1000 joined the fight on Saturday, October 29th to elect leaders who will fight for workers’ rights. New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan is challenging conservative Senator Kelly Ayotte, and a Hassan victory is key for pro-worker candidates to take back the U.S. Senate.

Keeping that Sterling Dedication to Workers in the Silver State

Following decades of leadership in the U.S. Senate, Harry Reid is retiring, opening up a seat that conservative, anti-worker forces want. “We have worked day and night to fight for our Senate candidate, Catherine Cortez Masto, who will fight for us and stand with Hillary Clinton to nominate a Supreme Court justice who will defend workers’ rights,” said Brian Gordon Milden, Nevada Department of Corrections.

In June of this year, AFSCME held its 42nd International Convention in Las Vegas, where more than 2,000 activists joined Cortez Masto to rally against Donald Trump’s deplorable anti-worker practices in his hotel. Hundreds of members out of California from UC Local 3299 and United Domestic Workers, AFSCME Local 3930, have climbed on buses week after week to keep the fight alive in Nevada.

Major walks are scheduled in all three battleground states until the election. To learn how to help, visit www.wevotewewin.org.

More Than 1,000 AFSCME Members Flood Battleground States Getting out the vote in the Granite State. (Photo by Therese Assalian)
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Jerry Jones: Putting an End to Private, For-Profit Prisons http://www.afscme.org/blog/jerry-jones-putting-an-end-to-private-for-profit-prisons Wed, 02 Nov 2016 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/jerry-jones-putting-an-end-to-private-for-profit-prisons In this year’s general election, there is only one candidate running for President with a track record of standing for public service workers, fighting for the middle class, and defending collective bargaining rights. That candidate is Hillary Clinton.

This is why Jerry Jones is voting for her.

"I've been in corrections for 20 years in the state of Iowa. People don’t understand what I do. I deal with people. Somebody’s son. They’re somebody’s father, brother, friend. And someday they’re going to be your new neighbors.

"Prisons are really a misunderstood place. There are a lot of strong emotions in a prison — anger, depression and mental illness. And my job is to help the inmates get through their day. By doing that I think I’m adding a lot of value to society in general. My job builds and strengthens communities, and makes the world a better place.

"My profession deserves respect. I believe we need a President that values our jobs and that person is Hillary Clinton. She’s promised to put an end to private prisons and detention centers. She knows our sacrifice and our commitment to our communities."

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Linda Wise: Making Education Affordable http://www.afscme.org/blog/linda-wise-making-education-affordable Wed, 02 Nov 2016 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/linda-wise-making-education-affordable In this year’s general election, there is only one candidate running for President with a track record of standing for public service workers, fighting for the middle class, and defending collective bargaining rights. That candidate is Hillary Clinton.

This is why Linda Wise is voting for her.

"I support Hillary because she supports college affordability. She knows the cost of college right now is astronomical. It’s so important that young folks attend school, but they can’t afford it.

"My daughter is a single parent with two loans — she’s almost done paying them, she’s coming through the tunnel. But lots of students still live with their parents because they can’t afford to move away. And their parents or grandparents can’t retire because they’re helping pay off the loans.

"Hillary knows about the cost of college and she believes in affordable education."

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Latina Equal Pay Day http://www.afscme.org/blog/latina-equal-pay-day Tue, 01 Nov 2016 16:28:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/latina-equal-pay-day Today is Latina Equal Pay Day, the day in 2016 when Latinas have finally been paid the same amount that white, non-Hispanic men made in 2015. That’s right: it takes more than 22 months for Latinas to earn what white men earn in 12.

Join leaders, advocates and influencers across the nation who are pledging to take action as champions of gender parity — not only for Latina Equal Pay Day, but for every day. Learn more on social media with the hashtags #LatinaEqualPay and #Trabajadoras.

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Mark Lawrence: Strengthening Healthcare Insurance http://www.afscme.org/blog/mark-lawrence-strengthening-healthcare-insurance Tue, 01 Nov 2016 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/mark-lawrence-strengthening-healthcare-insurance In this year’s general election, there is only one candidate running for President with a track record of standing for public service workers, fighting for the middle class, and defending collective bargaining rights. That candidate is Hillary Clinton.

This is why Mark Lawrence is voting for her.

"As a retiree, I face so many challenges – medical, dental, vision and pharmacy. Since I lost some of my medical benefits when I left work, I had to purchase outside insurance on top of Medicare.

"Each time I go to physical therapy or do other things for my health, I’m faced with larger copays, plus premiums have gone up.

"Hillary is more aware of the concerns and needs of people like me. I’m turning to Hillary because she stands for those 60 and older. She always stands on what she says."

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Patrick Wycoff: Helping Strong Unions Stay Strong http://www.afscme.org/blog/patrick-wycoff-helping-strong-unions-stay-strong Tue, 01 Nov 2016 10:58:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/patrick-wycoff-helping-strong-unions-stay-strong  In this year's general election, there is only one candidate running for President with a track record of standing for public service workers, fighting for the middle class, and defending collective bargaining rights. That candidate is Hillary Clinton.

This is why Patrick Wycoff is voting for her.

"I started working for the state of Wisconsin in 1998. I took the state job because I needed the good benefits to take care of my wife, my kids  and myself. I was lucky enough to get a job, and because of the benefits that AFSCME had fought for, I was able to have a future and to have dignity.

"Fast forward to 2011, and we have a governor who refers to me and all the people that I represent as the ‘haves.’ It was a terrible time in our lives, and the saddest part is that people blamed us for the state's economic problems.
Now there’s a candidate running for President who’s saying the same things. Only it’s not public sector workers who are to blame – it’s Muslims, it's immigrants.

"We need a President who brings us together. We need a President who respects public sector workers – and all of us. We need to elect Hillary Clinton President because she said that strong unions make a strong America. That’s why I’m going to go out and vote for her and work to elect Secretary Clinton as President of the United States."

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John Taylor: Protecting the Safety Net http://www.afscme.org/blog/john-taylor-protecting-the-safety-net Tue, 01 Nov 2016 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/john-taylor-protecting-the-safety-net In this year’s general election, there is only one candidate running for President with a track record of standing for public service workers, fighting for the middle class, and defending collective bargaining rights. That candidate is Hillary Clinton.

This is why John Taylor is voting for her.

"I’m retired and a disabled veteran. I come from a family of men and women who’ve served our country. My father is a veteran, he’s 96 years old, he’s living in a veterans home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he’s getting good care.

"Hillary is the only candidate I can trust to keep these things in place. Some lawmakers want to privatize Social Security, which means give it to their buddies on Wall Street.

"If you want someone who will have our best interests at heart, as opposed to the interests of the 1 percent, then elect Hillary for the job."


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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Statement on the Senate Fast Track Vote http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-statement-on-the-senate-fast-track-vote Tue, 23 Jun 2015 16:59:53 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-statement-on-the-senate-fast-track-vote AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the Senate’s vote to advance fast track legislation:

“It is unfortunate that the Senate sided with corporate interests over the American people by advancing legislation that will allow dangerous trade deals to be negotiated in secret. The past is prologue when it comes to American trade policy and fast track will only continue the terrible legacy of putting corporate profits ahead of American jobs, the environment, and our health care. We will now turn our focus to the deeply flawed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) and similar deals, which will open up vital public services to outsourcing. While this is a blow to working Americans, we will not give up the fight for transparency, fairness, and accountability in our country’s trade policies.”

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