Blog and Press Release Feed Blog and Press Release Feed Tue, 3 May 2011 05:00:00 +0000 AMPS en hourly 1 Outbreak: Gun Violence Is a Health Crisis Thu, 27 Oct 2016 12:00:00 -0500 Scott Byington works the night shift in the emergency room at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, California. He is a registered nurse in the Level II trauma center, which serves a large population that includes South Central Los Angeles.

"I became a nurse because I realized at a very early age how precious life is," says Byington, who began his career as an orderly at age 16 in his native Missouri and has been a registered nurse for more than 25 years. "And I believed I could make a difference in people’s lives."

To Byington, president of the St. Francis Registered Nurses Association (UNAC/NUHHCE), reminders of how precious life is are all too common. Because of its coverage area, St. Francis gets a large number of victims of gun violence. Hardly a night goes by that he doesn’t treat a person wounded by a bullet.

"I'll never forget one night when we treated 17 people who'd been shot in separate incidents of gun violence," he says.

Preventing Gun Deaths

Although the number of gunshot wounds at St. Francis is much higher than the average in California, gun violence afflicts every part of the country. In fact, according to a study published in The American Journal of Medicine, Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than people in other developed nations.

That’s why delegates to AFSCME’s 42nd International Convention in Las Vegas this July approved a resolution to “support and advance legislation to promote research relating to gun violence as a public health crisis.”

But, because of the influence of special interest groups on Congress, the federal government isn’t allowed to conduct even the most basic research in this area.

AFSCME joined a coalition of labor unions and organizations in a campaign to end gun violence through reasonable gun control legislation. The campaign, called "Hate Bleeds America," began this summer and will continue through the day before Election Day on Nov. 8.

Gun Violence Is Like a Deadly Disease

"If gun violence were a disease, there’s no doubt in my mind that we as a society would be doing more to treat it," Byington says. "Well, gun violence is like a disease, and it's certainly a public health crisis."

The goal is not to pass judgment on gun ownership, but to help prevent gun violence by better understanding its causes.
Byington knows that such violence can affect anyone. Like the 1-year-old baby rushed into the emergency room with a gunshot wound to the leg: "Luckily we were able to provide fast treatment and the baby survived."

Or the two young adults, 20 and 21 years old, who had been "playing basketball with their friends when they were hit by stray gunfire," Byington recalled. "They were innocent kids! The 21-year-old was in better shape and he was going to make it. I was working on the younger one, who kept holding my hand and pleading with me not to let him die. He kept saying, ‘Please don’t let me die, please don’t let me die.’ I’ll never forget that. We did our best, but we couldn’t save him."

Learning more about the causes of gun violence is not about challenging Second Amendment rights. It is simply allowing research so that policy makers can be best equipped to make decisions about how to reduce many unnecessary deaths from guns.

AFSCME Activist Built a Career in Caring Thu, 27 Oct 2016 09:00:00 -0500 Before he became a human services case worker for the state of Illinois, Eric Johnson built a career in caring: He was a hospice chaplain, providing spiritual care for the terminally ill. And before that, he was a hospital chaplain and a navy chaplain.

"I moved into case work because I find that I use the same skills," said Johnson, who is a member of AFSCME Local 1805 (Council 31).

Johnson determines and maintains eligibility for SNAP, Medicaid, and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) for the poor, the elderly and the disabled residents of St. Clair County, Illinois. "I love it," he says. "I help good people every day who are struggling with difficult circumstances. I focus myself spiritually on treating everyone with dignity and self-worth."

Just as Johnson brought his past skills as a champlain to his public service work, to his AFSCME Strong activism he brought a desire to respond with action in the face of challenges.

"We are coordinating with sisters and brothers from other unions to defend legislators who support labor and fight every anti-union initiative that Governor Rauner has thrown at us," he said.

Yvette Silas-Pinson: Q&A with a Rising Leader Thu, 27 Oct 2016 09:00:00 -0500 Through the Women’s Leadership Academy, AFSCME women members develop leadership skills with mentors, creating a community of support and the ability to build power in their local unions.

The eight-month Academy includes a five-day orientation session, completion of a local union or council project or campaign, and a three-day final session. This year’s orientation session was held in mid-August in Columbus, Ohio.
Yvette Silas-Pinson is one of dozens of participants in the Academy. She is a school health aide for the Baltimore City Health Department and member of AFSCME Local 44 (Council 67).

Q: What did you like best about being part of the Academy this year?
A: It was absolutely wonderful! I would say it was life changing. To be in a room with 29 women leaders from different parts of the country, as far away as Alaska, was amazing. I’ve gained a whole new sisterhood.

Q: What did you learn from your AFSCME sisters?
A: I learned to be more confident. These are women who work hard to try to impact and change their role to be able to make a difference. I felt proud of myself and what I’ve done, and at the same time I gained new insight into how to address my problem areas. It showed me that it’s okay to love and care about your co-workers and friends. We spent a week together and none of us wanted to separate.

Q: I know you helped build your union by knocking on some doors and having one-on-one conversations with other AFSCME members.
A: Yes, we talked about our union and many of them recommitted to our union. Some even joined for the first time. I guess I’m kind of good at it!

Q: What leadership role do you play in your local?
A: I’m a shop steward for my local. When I first joined our union I wasn’t active. I didn’t know what a union was; I didn’t know where my dues went to. So I started asking questions and a young lady who was a school health aide said she needed help with union matters. That was three years ago. So she introduced me to the union and ever since then I’ve been rocking and rolling!

Q: What motivates you every day?
A: It’s the fact that somebody helped me. I’m adopted, and that means somebody changed my life. That’s why I always wanted to impact somebody else’s. I’ve got passion, and I can’t turn it off. Even when I want to it’s always there, it’s always present.

The Best Leader for Our Country Wed, 26 Oct 2016 16:23:00 -0500 I've been involved in a lot of campaigns over the years, but I can’t remember another one where the contrast between the candidates was this great and the choice was this clear.

Without question, there’s a lot of economic anxiety out there. Even though the recession is over, even though incomes are rising again, so many working families feel like they’re getting a raw deal. They feel like they can’t get ahead no matter how hard they work. They feel like they won’t be able to give their kids the same opportunities they had.

Talking the Talk vs. Walking the Walk

There is only one candidate in this Presidential race who understands these struggles, who really gets it. And I’ll give you a hint: It’s not the guy who made “you’re fired” his reality show catchphrase.

Donald Trump wants you to believe he’s on the side of working people. He talks a good talk, but we need a President who will walk the walk.

He says we’ve got to bring jobs back to America, but it turns out his clothing line uses labor from China and Bangladesh.
He says he’s on our side, but then he argues that Americans’ wages are too high.

He says he supports unions, except that he embraces a national right-to-work law and he’s a first-class union-buster, refusing to negotiate with workers at his hotel property in Las Vegas.

Talk is cheap. Lip service isn’t going to raise our incomes, protect our pensions or give our kids a better future. We need a President who will produce for us, not pander to us.

We also need a President who treats all people with respect. Not someone who attacks people of color, who smears immigrants and religious minorities, who insults war heroes and Gold Star families, who says vulgar things about women and mocks people with disabilities. Public service workers bring our communities together. We can’t have a President who would tear us apart.

A Strong, Seasoned, Steady Leader

On the other side, we have Sec. Hillary Clinton – as strong, seasoned and steady a leader as you will find. She is both competent and compassionate. She has the heart, the brains and the guts to succeed at the most important job in the world.

She will fight for an economy that works for everyone. She’s a champion for higher wages and equal pay for equal work. A champion for Social Security and retirement with dignity. A champion who will defend our collective bargaining rights, who proudly declares that when unions are strong, America is strong.

She cares about the things we care about, the things that we talk about around the dinner table, the things that keep us up at night. She understands the challenges facing working families. She honors our work and shares our commitment to our communities. She knows that public service workers never quit. She knows that we make America happen.

The stakes are too high to sit this one out, Sisters and Brothers. We have the power to determine what kind of country we'll be for the next four years.
So let’s do what we do best, AFSCME. I’ll be out there hitting the streets, and I’m asking you to join me. Knock on doors till your hands are sore. Make phone calls until your voice is hoarse. We can rest on November 9. Until then, let’s leave it all on the field and elect Hillary Clinton  President of the United States.

DC 37 Activists Visit Philadelphia to Get-Out-the-Vote for Clinton Wed, 26 Oct 2016 11:05:00 -0500 National polls are showing Hillary Clinton pulling away in her race for the White House, but the former secretary of state and the working people who support her are taking nothing for granted.

Clinton reached out to voters in Raleigh, North Carolina, over the weekend while DC 37 members joined a major get-out-the-vote blitz with AFSCME members from across the country.

Two busloads of activists from DC 37 left their union headquarters in lower Manhattan early Saturday morning and headed for Philadelphia for a day of door-knocking to make sure working families are heard on November 8.

After two hours on the road, DC 37 Political Action Dir. Jeremy John handed out assignments and volunteers picked up their union campaign literature and ponchos to protect them against the steady drizzle. The activists paired off and drove to their assigned neighborhoods.

Retiree Enovia Bedford went door-to-door in West Oak Lane in North Philadelphia, a community of private two-story homes. Several homes in the neighborhood had Clinton-Kaine placards on their lawns, and Bedford came across some residents who had already voted. “That’s a good sign,” she said. 

Vanessa Tirado, a member of Local 154, also made the trip to Philadelphia. Tirado, a claims examiner who works in the New York City Office of Comptroller, lives in Orange County and commutes two hours every day to her job in the city. But a two-hour commute from her home to Manhattan and then a two-hour bus trip to Philadelphia on a rainy Saturday morning wasn’t a problem for the Bronx native.

“There’s too much at stake,” said Tirado, who has taken a lot of canvasing trips with the union and is also active in her community. Tirado said one of her trips was to Connecticut and New Hampshire.

And the following day on Sunday morning Tirado planned to go door to door again, this time in her suburban neighborhood on behalf of a Democratic Party candidate who is running in her district.

Innovators: Tapping into Public Employee Potential Tue, 25 Oct 2016 10:00:00 -0500 Public employees are proud of the services they provide. They want to do their jobs and do them well. They want to improve their work and processes, bring safety to their jobs, and have a voice and integrity in the workplace – all union values.

Team Up ODOT, a 20-year labor and management tradition, is a prime example. When the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA) and management work together great things happen. Workers are safer, public work is more efficient and taxpayers win. The annual event spotlights innovation and process improvement and awards employees for giving back and working hard.

When Ohio Department of Transportation mechanics (and OCSEA members) Tim Wood and Tim Rodgers from Ashtabula County faced an ice hazard during the harsh winter months, they thought outside the box. They created a heated truck cab step to help improve safety for drivers exiting and entering the trucks. A buildup of snow and ice while plowing had resulted in numerous slips and falls.

What was the simple solution to this dangerous problem? The mechanics added a heat exchanger to the bottom of the step using coolant from the engine as a heat source. With the support of their manager, they worked to make the innovation a reality for just over $300 per truck, a drop in the government bucket. With no more snow and ice build up, the slip hazard has virtually been eliminated in the county.

“It’s innovators like these men who are proof that public employees do it well and they do it best,” said OCSEA President Christopher Mabe, also an AFSCME International vice president. “We must build upon the connection that public employee values ARE union values. It is this common thread that will mean the preservation of good jobs, the middle class and the American dream.” 

All Talk: Trump Tower Filled with Foreign Goods Mon, 24 Oct 2016 12:40:00 -0500 Donald Trump likes to talk a tough game on trade, but when it comes to putting his money where his mouth is, Trump has shown that his talk is just that – talk.

Trump’s own products, including his branded shirts, ties, suits and cuff links, are manufactured in at least a dozen other countries, among them Bangladesh, China, India and Mexico. Trump vodka is distilled in the Netherlands. His crystal barware comes from Slovenia.

Trump also stocks his luxurious hotels with foreign-made goods. A Steelworker with a camera checked out the pricey Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City and found many products in just one room that could have been purchased domestically but were instead sourced by Trump from overseas.

“I don’t see a future if Trump is elected,” said Terra Samuel, a steelworker with Local 1010, who works for ArcelorMittal in Indiana. “Hillary has credibility for working with labor unions and looking out for young people. I love her ideas for investing in infrastructure. Because she will require American-made products that will support American manufacturing and create American jobs.”

If Trump wanted to rebuild America like he says, he could have started by buying American-made products.

Watch a USW-produced video on the foreign-made products used in Trump hotel rooms:

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2016 issue of USW@Work.

Running to Represent Workers Fri, 21 Oct 2016 13:34:00 -0500 Being an active and concerned union member is a great way to transform your workplace. Fighting for your community in legislative chambers is another way. Here’s a look at three Council 4 members running for state representative:

West Haven: Mike DiMassa and Sean Ronan

This election season, color the city of West Haven AFSCME Green.

It’s here you’ll find not one but two Council 4 members seeking election as state representatives: Mike DiMassa and Sean Ronan.

DiMassa, a member of Local 681 (West Haven DPW/City Hall) is running in the 116th District (West Haven and New Haven). Ronan, 48, a member of Local 1159 (Bridgeport Police), hopes to represent the 117th District (West Haven, Milford and Orange).

Both candidates share a strong belief in unions and the need to ensure the Connecticut Legislature is more worker-friendly.

“Unions have done so much to improve people’s lives,” DiMassa said. “We need to support collective bargaining and create livable wage jobs. That’s good for workers and good for businesses.”

Ronan shares that sentiment. The longtime Bridgeport police detective and Army veteran comes from a strong union family (including a brother who is a state corrections officer and a sister who is a town dispatcher).

“Unions built America. I’m running as a working man’s candidate,” he said, noting that his opponent, incumbent Republican Charles Ferraro, wants to slash workers’ pay and benefits, and curtail bargaining rights.

DiMassa, 25, is a newcomer to politics. The City Council clerk upset veteran incumbent Lou Esposito by 22 votes in the August Democratic primary. Council 4 endorsed DiMassa in the primary, and helped his effort with get-out-the-vote phone calls and an in-district mailing.

Ronan, 48, has already been fighting for his fellow West Haven residents as a four-term member of the West Haven City Council.

“I want to help my constituents have a voice in Hartford. We need more economic development and good stable jobs so our communities can flourish,” he said.

“Sean and I are not looking to be career politicians,” DiMassa reflected. “We want to bring a fresh perspective. We want to have a positive impact.”

Ronan added, “It’s noble to be in politics and want to help your constituents.”

Jim Tedford Jim Tedford

Vernon: Jim Tedford

A sunny Friday in September recently found Jim Tedford of AFSCME Local 1471 (Vernon Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Water Pollution Control) at the XL Center in Hartford, where he spent a vacation day helping the Connecticut Mission of Mercy provide free dental care to more than 1,300 citizens in need.

“It’s about improving the human condition and paying it forward,” Tedford said during a break from his duties at the Mission of Mercy’s dental clinic, where he has volunteered for three years.

The 35-year town employee is taking the same approach to his candidacy for the 56th House District (Vernon and Rockville): “I see a lot of things that need improvement. I want to make my part of the state better.”

Tedford, a Republican, is currently serving his first term as a town councilman and garnered the highest number of votes in last year’s municipal election. As a past president of his local, and a current member of Council 4’s Delegate Assembly, he hopes to bring a fresh perspective to the Legislature if he’s elected.

 “I believe in unions. I’ve also seen what it’s like to lack the rights and dignity that come with having a union to protect you. I’d like to work with organized labor to advance legislation that helps everyone in the public and private sectors.”

Fighting for Better Patient Care and R-E-S-P-E-C-T in Connecticut Thu, 20 Oct 2016 14:16:00 -0500 Despite aggressive opposition from hospital management, workers at two Connecticut hospitals can now proudly call themselves AFSCME members.

Custodians, maintenance workers, lab techs, nursing assistants and others employed at Danbury and New Milford Hospitals, both managed by the Western Connecticut Healthcare Network (WCHN), voted to join Connecticut Health Care Associates (CHCA/AFSCME) on September 1. They’re fighting for respect on the job — for their patients and themselves.

“The main thing we’re hoping to get in the contract is better staffing levels that would make things safer for us and the patients,” says Jessica Ellul, a patient care coordinator at Danbury. “I think people are excited to see a change. Now that they have a voice, people feel like they’re part of this hospital again. We’re hoping to build a better relationship with management.”

Management tried to spread misinformation and divide workers from one another in the lead-up to the election. But hospital workers didn’t waver from their convictions: safety and quality care must come ahead of profits.

“I want to work in a hospital that not only I, but our whole community can be proud of,” said Melissa Zipparo. Shirnette Noble says she voted for the union because “our work safety depends on it.”

Now that they’re officially standing together as a union, WCHN employees are ready to begin speaking up for better patient care and a fairer workplace.

Protecting Our Children Wed, 19 Oct 2016 12:44:00 -0500 Each year nearly a million children are abducted or run away. Many are never returned to their families. That’s a staggering statistic and one that our union can help to reduce.

AFSCME is partnering with the National Child Identification Program and the American Football Coaches Association to make our children's lives safer. This month, AFSCME members will receive a child identification kit that can be used to collect and store a child’s fingerprints and DNA. Completed kits should be stored at home in a safe place and only turned over to authorities in the event of an emergency. No one will have access to your child’s fingerprints or DNA without your permission. 

The kits will arrive with the Fall issue of AFSCME WORKS magazine and include instructions for use. It’s so easy to gather the information, and it could make all the difference in the future.

There’s nothing more important to AFSCME than the members who help keep their communities running and our union strong. And there’s nothing more important to us as parents and grandparents than our children and grandchildren. Through the use of the child identification kit, a parent or guardian can dramatically increase the chances that a missing child will be located and safely returned.

The fingerprint kit, DNA sample collector and fact sheet are kept by the parent or guardian in their personal records, but if needed — will give law enforcement agencies up to 80 percent of the information they need to initiate an immediate search when time is of the essence.

In teaming up with the National Child Identification Program, AFSCME joins several unions and dozens of community, faith and athletic organizations to make our communities safer. In addition to receiving one free kit, AFSCME members will have the option of buying additional kits at the specially negotiated price of $4.95, half the usual cost.

Watch your mailbox for a free child identification kit in the Fall issue of AFSCME WORKS magazine. A missing child is a parent’s worst nightmare, and we sincerely hope that once AFSCME members complete the kit, they’ll never have to use it.

As public service workers, we take pride in making our communities safer. If we all take a few moments to protect our families, we can help bring every missing child home safely. 

For kit instructions en Español, visit

Support Our Fallen Brother Wed, 19 Oct 2016 10:32:00 -0500 When shots rang out in downtown Fairbanks, Alaska, Sergeant Allen Brandt did just what you’d expect a trained law enforcement officer to do: He went toward the danger so he could protect others.

Sgt. Brandt put his life on the line, and was shot multiple times as he responded to the call. While the suspect fled the scene, Sgt. Brandt was rushed to the hospital and eventually flown to Anchorage to be treated.

It's moments like this where being an AFSCME member is most meaningful, because Sgt. Brandt has 1.6 million sisters and brothers behind him. Sgt. Brandt is a loving husband and father of four children, and an 11-year veteran of the Fairbanks police force.

He's also a member of PSEA Local 803, our brother, and that’s why AFSCME members are stepping up to support him.

Supporters have set up an online fundraising campaign to help Sgt. Brandt and his family through this difficult ordeal, and AFSCME members all over the country are stepping up to support a fallen hero and their brother in need.

You can join them by donating here.

Council 31 Members’ Message for Rauner: Come Back to the Table Tue, 18 Oct 2016 10:00:00 -0500 Illinois state employees — AFSCME Council 31 members — are featured in a new union ad campaign pressing Governor Rauner to return to the bargaining table after breaking off negotiations in January.

Recently an Illinois Labor Relations Board hearing officer recommended that the full Board reject Rauner’s contention that the parties are at impasse on wages, health care and other key issues, and require the administration to resume negotiations with AFSCME. 

The latest ad features a correctional officer, Alanea, who was injured in a recent attack by prison inmates.

“We had taken some contraband from an inmate’s cell, and when my lieutenant was explaining to him what we took, he just hit her, and then all the other inmates joined in,” says Alanea. 

“Every day when I’m getting ready for work, I wonder how the shift is going to go.  If we’re going to have a good day, and make it home, or if it’s going to go bad,” continues Alanea. 

While AFSCME Council 31 members have agreed to limit pay raises and pay more for their health care, Governor Rauner is demanding a four-year wage freeze and doubling employee costs for health care. That would amount to a $10,000 pay cut for the average state worker.

“We want to keep our health insurance, we want to keep our right to negotiate, we just want to do our job,” concludes Alanea.

Two Hundred-Plus County Employees Join AFSCME in Indy Mon, 17 Oct 2016 14:27:00 -0500 Some 230 Marion County employees in Indianapolis joined the AFSCME ranks, this summer, after newly elected officials granted their employees the right to bargain collectively.

Employees from the Marion County Clerk’s, Auditor’s, Assessor’s and Surveyor’s offices had worked without collective bargaining rights or raises for far too long. In fact, many have gone at least eight years without a raise. With newly elected, pro-labor Mayor Joe Hogsett taking office in 2015, county employees decided the time was right to form their union with AFSCME Council 962. AFSCME Council 962 organizers helped workers in the process by meeting with employees in each of the offices; identifying  supporters; answering  questions and concerns over meetings after work, at lunches and over phone calls and emails; and training key leaders. The result has been a success. A majority of the employees signed membership cards and each of the county offices voluntarily recognized AFSCME.

George FarleyGeorge Farley helped lead the organizing drive in the county Tax Assessor's office.

“It was exciting to organize our offices,” said George Farley, an accounting coordinator in the Assessor’s office and a member of the AFSCME bargaining team. “It was satisfying convincing people to join together and signing union cards, knowing that we are standing together to make our jobs better.”

Currently, the bargaining team is training and preparing to negotiate a first contract with the county, and AFSCME members are looking forward to founding their own local union.

“We’re looking forward to bringing everyone together into the local,” said Farley, a former UAW member. “So many of my co-workers don’t realize what it means to have a union. And that we, as members, are in control of it. We determine our leaders, our issues and how we spend our dues dollars. That’s going to be exciting to see.”

Keeping Our Children Safe Fri, 14 Oct 2016 13:03:00 -0500 Rebekah Wright works for the Ohio State School for the Blind. She’s worn different hats there, including a job in the music department, which is home to the nation’s only blind marching band.  “Those kids are absolutely amazing!” she boasts.

Wright, a maintenance repair worker for the school and member of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (AFSCME Local 11), cares about the children she serves and does her best to improve her community one day at a time.

Rebekah WrightRebekah Wright (Courtesy photo)

As a mother of three children who is married to a police detective, community safety is also a top priority for her. When her children’s school several years ago invited parents to fill out kits from the National Child Identification Program, she didn’t hesitate. “I thought it was a great way to keep track of my children in the event of a crisis,” she says. 

AFSCME partnered with the National Child Identification Program (NCIP) and American Football Coaches Association to provide free ID kits to all members nationwide. AFSCME members will receive a free ID kit with the fall issue of AFSCME WORKS magazine. The kits come with easy-to-follow instructions for collecting your child’s personal information, fingerprints and DNA. The completed kit should be kept in a safe place at home.

Peace of Mind

Phyllis Zamarripa’s children are all grown up. But when she learned that AFSCME was sending free child ID kits to all members, she thought of her grandchildren.

“I would feel safer if my daughters did it for their children,” said Zamarripa, a retired social worker who is president of Colorado AFSCME Chapter 76. “It sounds like it would be easier to find them wherever they were.”

Zamarripa said knowing that her children are prepared for a worst-case scenario gives her peace of mind.

Phyllis ZamarripaPhyllis Zamarripa (Photo by Bryan Kelsen)

“Most likely nothing will ever happen,” she continued, “and I don’t think parents need to live in fear that their children will be abducted. But the fact is, many children do go missing every day in our country, and there’s nothing written in stone that it can’t happen to you. So, why not be prepared and have peace of mind? Especially since it’s so cheap and easy to do.”

Better to Be Prepared

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, more than 460,000 U.S. children went missing in 2015. Some children run away from home, while others are abducted by family members or even strangers. The child ID kits from the NCIP, first distributed in 1997, have helped law enforcement in their search for missing children. Since the program began, more than 26 million kits were distributed. 

“Unfortunately, in this day and age, it’s better to be prepared,” Wright says. “Hopefully there’s never a crisis, but in the event that there is, you have everything compiled in one place to expedite the process in case a child goes missing.”

A completed ID kit can help law enforcement locate a missing child by providing key pieces of personal information, such as fingerprints and DNA. The FBI encourages participation in the program by law enforcement agencies across the United States, and recognizes the child ID program as its preferred method of child identification.

AFSCME arranged a discounted rate for additional kits for members. For instructions en Español, visit

Boycott Trump Thu, 13 Oct 2016 17:19:00 -0500 UNITE HERE, the hotel workers’ union, called for a national boycott of Donald Trump’s businesses. The Boycott Trump campaign urges customers not to eat, sleep, or play at Trump hotels and golf courses.

The Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas hired a “union avoidance” firm that is alleged to have intimidated workers who were attempting to organize with the Culinary Workers Union. Trump supervisors were alleged to have threatened and/or fired workers for wearing union buttons in the workplace. 

In February 2016, after the NLRB rejected Trump management’s election objections, the majority of workers at the hotel voted to join the Culinary Union, the largest affiliate of UNITE HERE. Yet hotel officials are stalling negotiations and have refused to recognize the union or negotiate a first contract.

The Department of Labor has cited Trump businesses around the country in dozens of cases for violations of wage and hour laws.

“Enough is enough,” said UNITE HERE President D. Taylor. “While Donald Trump waged an indefensible anti-worker and anti-immigrant Presidential campaign, the workers at his Las Vegas hotel fought for dignity and respect in their workplace. They voted to unionize, they won and now the law says Trump must negotiate.” 

Standing in solidarity with the Culinary Union, hundreds of community supporters, students and AFSCME and other union members picketed the Trump Old Post Office Hotel in Washington, DC, today.

AFSCME members also participated in a direct action at Trump Hotel Las Vegas last July in support of the hotel workers. “We are here and we are here to fight for them and we are AFSCME strong,” said Stephanie Wiley of Ohio OAPSE Local 4.

“At the hotel in the morning we chant ‘No Contract, No Peace! No Contract, No Peace!” said Eleuteria Blanco, a guestroom attendant at the Trump Hotel Las Vegas. Over 57,000 union workers in Las Vegas have fair wages, job security and good health benefits — in stark contrast to workers at Trump Hotel Las Vegas who pay up to $260 per month for their health insurance, and are paid approximately $3 less per hour in comparison to union workers on the Strip. “We’re not second class workers,” Blanco added.

“After a disgraceful anti-union campaign against their own workers, the hotel still refuses to negotiate with their employees,” said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Union. “We call on allies and workers to stand in solidarity in a national boycott until Donald Trump, the ‘Great Negotiator,’ comes to the table.”

Kathryn Lybarger, International vice president promised AFSCME’s support. “AFSCME is proud to stand in solidarity with you,” she said. “As long as Trump continues to undermine basic fairness for working people, the 1.6 million members of AFSCME stand with the Culinary Union to urge Trump to treat his employees with respect and negotiate a fair contract.”

Gold Medal Parents Thu, 13 Oct 2016 13:31:00 -0500 During the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Dalilah Muhammad, a long-time New York resident, became the first American woman to win the 400-meter hurdles in a dramatic race, held during a driving rainstorm at Olympic Stadium. Dalilah led from the first hurdle and finished for the gold medal at 53.1 seconds.

Her victory came on the heels of a series of championship victories, several after coming back from an injury last year. Her determination is an inspiration for anyone with a wish and a goal in mind.

Upon her return home, Dalilah and three other Olympians were honored in a parade in Southeast Queens. In her acceptance speech for the award, Dalilah told the crowd, "After returning home, so many kids have come up to me, saying that they want to be like me. But my message is to strive to be 10 times better than me. That is how I won the gold medal. Don't have small dreams, set bigger goals to try to achieve."

But beyond the story of Dalilah Muhammad's rise to Olympic glory, there is a family as remarkable as she is — her own.

Dalilah's parents are committed public workers and members of DC 37, both having spent decades working for New York City in their respective roles, and are pivotal to the communities they serve.

Dalilah's mother, SSEU Local 371 member Nadriah Muhammad, has worked for 16 years at the Administration for Children's Services as a child protective specialist.

"My focus as a child protective specialist is following up and checking on families that have been through the system; I monitor to make sure the families are following the court mandates and that everything is going well."

As for the challenges she faces in her work, she explained, "While it is always difficult when working with families with children who sometimes do not always make the best decisions, for the most part the situations have been workable."

Building a Strong Spiritual Foundation

Dalilah’s father, Imam Askia Muhammad, is an administrative chaplain for Islamic Affairs for the Department of Corrections and a member of Local 299. A 26-year veteran of the department, he spoke of the importance of his vital prison work.

"My work involves supporting and monitoring all the Islamic programs at all the jails and Borough Houses in the Department of Corrections. I also work with adolescents and adults," he said. “We generally counsel, we teach, and instruct on religious matters with the inmates and that has had a very strong impact on the family."

Imam Muhammad explained the role of their Muslim faith in the upbringing of his and Nadriah’s family. " The children have been basically raised in the mosque, and have a very strong spiritual foundation,” he said. "We oriented our children and family — and the community — into really understanding Islam and how our faith works in our daily lives."

The family's firm commitment to public service continues. Another daughter, Jamilah, also serves in the Department of Corrections and her brother, Hassan, is a sergeant in the United States Army.

Before and After the Storm Wed, 12 Oct 2016 13:08:00 -0500 By midday, the middle of last week, Miami-Dade County residents began boarding up their windows, shoring up their homes, and buying supplies of water, flashlights and shelf-stable food. The county was preparing for the onslaught of Hurricane Matthew, a category 4 storm.

Hurricane Matthew had already ravaged the Caribbean — devastating Haiti and leaving hundreds dead. This was no storm to take lightly, with Florida officials warning residents to evacuate, and for those remaining — to prepare for the worst. But rather than hunker down in the safety of their homes to protect their own families, AFSCME members like David Diaz and his crew prepared to battle the storm and protect his community. 

Armed in heavy rain gear, Local 1584 member Diaz and his co-workers — skilled trash collectors — spent all of Wednesday and Thursday inspecting roadways. They made sure that fallen trees and other large debris didn’t harm local residents. The area received up to four inches of rain with winds averaging 120 miles per hour.

“We’d been on alert since early Sunday,” said Diaz. “I started early in the week inspecting smaller debris drop-off sites. Then during the actual storm, I made sure any large debris that had fallen wasn’t blocking areas or able to damage property or any of our residents.” Hurricane Matthew was a strong storm that did not hit as hard as was expected. But that didn’t stop Diaz and his fellow public service workers from being part of the preparedness, immediate response and recovery.

“There were many Miami-Dade AFSCME members out cleaning up and helping with the recovery,” said Diaz. “Our storm preparedness process works so well because of all of us, and it’s what keeps Miami-Dade County working!”

Sharp Hearts, Sharp Cares, Sharp Nurses Tue, 11 Oct 2016 14:51:00 -0500 SAN DIEGO — More than 300 nurses, health care professionals, clergy, students, union members and a lawmaker gathered last Thursday morning in solidarity with Sharp Healthcare nurses. Rallying in front of the San Diego Convention Center, the nurses drummed up community support for their attempts to improve worker retention in their workplace.

The nurses of UNAC/UHCP (affiliated with the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees [NUHHCE]/AFSCME) are currently in negotiations with Sharp; however, those conversations are breaking down. Sharp nurses say worker turnover is high because their pay is significantly lower — by $8/hr to $15/hr — than what their peers at other area hospitals make. In just the first nine months of this year Sharp lost 509 nurses, reported ABC 10 News. Nurses don’t stay too long at Sharp, leaving behind demoralized and overextended co-workers.

Lorena GonzalezAssemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez proudly displays her support of Sharp Healthcare nurses.(Photo by Max Carbuccia, UNAC/UHCP)

“A 19-year Sharp nurse only makes what a two-year Kaiser nurse gets across town,” said Jackie Young, RN with 16 years at Sharp Memorial. “New grads come here just long enough to get the experience to move on. A lot of experienced nurses are pinning all our hopes on this contract. We love our patients and we love our co-workers, but at a certain point you have to make some tough decisions and think about you and your family’s future.”

Even Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (District 80) was on deck to lend her support. “I have been through this fight three times now with UNAC. There is nothing more important in this campaign than to ensure long-term union security,” said Gonzalez. “Because if not, I’m going to be back out here in three years fighting the same fight.”       

Sharp nurses aren’t rallying because their workplace is a bad environment — but because it is a good environment that could be great.

Says Jay O’Brien, RN, a seven-year employee of Sharp Memorial: “Sharp is a good place to work. We want it to stay a good place to work. All of us are really truly dedicated to Sharp.”

With profit margins at least double those of their largest local competitors, it makes sense for Sharp to invest in a plan to retain experienced, loyal employees.

“Everyone in San Diego sees the ads and infomercials for ‘The Sharp Experience,’” said Michelle Byers, RN, for Sharp Grossmont in the Cardiac Cath Lab. “We believe in Sharp’s ideals — but we wonder if Sharp’s executives do. Nurses know the reality at Sharp. We challenge Sharp executives to live up to Sharp’s own ideals.”

Sharp Nurses After rallying in front of the San Diego Convention Center, Sharp Healthcare nurses spread their message across the city skyline. (Photo by Russell Miller, UNAC/UHCP)
How Stronger Unions Could Fix Our Economy — And Our Politics Tue, 11 Oct 2016 13:13:00 -0500 Of the little we’ve heard, much of this election’s economic policy discussion has focused on what can be done about our historically slow growth, rising inequality, and decreasing social mobility. But neither candidate has focused on one no-brainer solution: strengthening unions.

That might seem a contentious statement in a country with decades of fraught relations between corporations and labor. But as a new report from the left-leaning Center for American Progress outlines, a stronger labor movement may be the quickest way to spur the sort of broad-based growth (via wage hikes) that we need to create a more sustainable, robust recovery.

“It’s become pretty clear that in order to raise wages and reduce inequality, the number one thing that we could do would be to increase worker power within our economy,” says David Madland, a senior fellow at CAP and the author of the study.

Strengthening unions might also have the knock-on effect of decreasing populism. At least some of the ugliness we’ve seen this election cycle has been rooted in rising inequality. Meanwhile, about one-third of the recent increase in wage inequality for American males can be attributed to weakening unions, according to research by Harvard and Washington University academics. A separate IMF study found that countries without unions see a 10 percent increase in the share of income that goes to the highest earners.

By contrast, the social benefits of unions stretch across generations. American children of fathers without a college education earn 28 percent more if their dad was in a labor union, compared to those whose fathers were non-union. In other words, the demise of American unions — only about 7 percent of private sector workers currently belong to one — has been a key factor in the rising wealth gap, but also in the sort of horrific, Hobbesian presidential politics we’ve seen over the past year. (Many economists see the wealth gap as a big reason why we aren’t enjoying a more sustainable recovery.)

The big challenge to revitalizing unions is moving beyond today’s system of labor law, which hasn’t been updated since 1935. Unions get a bad rap in the U.S. in part because most collective bargaining can be done only at a firm-by-firm level. That creates a race to the bottom away from higher-wage unionized firms. Yet there is a wealth of research that shows that when bargaining can be done at an industry level — the way it is in most other countries, including Germany, Sweden, Australia, and Canada, among others — you get higher national wages without sacrificing economic competitiveness. That’s because factors like labor representation on corporate boards and the ability to bargain collectively is associated with greater productivity levels, as management and labor are better able to work together to solve problems. (See here for an example of how this helped German companies gain market share against U.S. firms in the wake of the financial crisis.)

Such a drastic change won’t be easy. Reforming the National Labor Relations Board will require policy action. “Legal changes [to collective bargaining structures] have to come first – unions simply aren’t powerful enough right now to drive this change on their own,” says Madland. Yet there are already examples at the state and local level that show the potential of a new kind of labor movement. Think about the Fight for $15 movement in various cities, which has helped bolster low-end service pay across industries. It’s something that Hillary (fingers crossed) should make a top priority if she’s elected. It would help stabilize our economy — and our democracy, too.

(Originally posted on TIME Magazine’s website.)

California Public Workers Find Strength with AFSCME Wed, 05 Oct 2016 09:00:00 -0500 Six thousand public service workers represented by Public Employees Union (PEU), Local 1 voted last week to unite with AFSCME. The affiliation will give public workers across eight Northern California counties a stronger voice to improve the vital services they provide their communities every day.

Local 1 Pres. Mike West, a printing services coordinator at Los Medanos Community College, said that he and his co-workers are excited to become part of a larger movement that is fighting to defend families and neighborhoods across the country.

"We don’t do this work for fame and glory. We do it to keep our communities strong,” said West. “Joining AFSCME helps make sure we have the tools we need to advocate quality public services for all.”

PEU Local 1 represents more than 6,000 public service workers in the region, including workers for cities, counties, community colleges, school districts, libraries, courts, Head Start and special districts that provide clean water and other services.   

Lynda Middleton has worked as a Head Start teacher in Contra Costa County for 21 years and serves on the Local 1 board of directors. She believes the affiliation with AFSCME will make her union stronger.

“We do the same work; we share the same issues. It makes sense that we stand together in the same union,” said Middleton.

Play “Feeding the Dragon” Recalls Life with Dad, a DC 37 Member Mon, 03 Oct 2016 14:19:00 -0500 Deep in the annals of the jobs we once did lies the New York City Public Library live-in custodian. Occupying a small apartment in the library with his wife, child and mother-in-law, George King Washington’s task was to keep the furnaces going.

The family motto was, “Don’t let that furnace go out.” It was grueling work requiring great strength as Washington shoveled coal into the large furnace in the basement of the St. Agnes Branch of the New York City Library. He kept it going 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In the mid-1960s, Washington and his wife Connie lived at the St. Agnes Branch Library on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with their daughter Sharon, mother-in-law Cassandra and their dog Brownie. He retired, moved to South Carolina, collected his pension and passed away in 2006.

End of story, right? Not so fast.

Daughter Sharon Washington – story teller and actor, best known for her stage, film and television work with reoccurring roles on Fox TV’s Gotham (2014) and Law & Order: SVU – has chronicled her experience from inside the library and what it meant for her family in her play, “Feeding the Dragon.” In it, Sharon recalls her life running around the library after hours, endlessly reading and often “imagining who else held these books” that riveted her.

Her talents were recognized from an early age. In the second grade, the vice principal at her Upper West Side public school alerted her mother of her amazing academic ability and recommended sending her to Dalton, a private school for well-to-do families. While Sharon did receive a partial scholarship, the Washingtons scrimped and saved to afford the tuition.

Sharon describes the life of a little girl of “two worlds” – the haves and the family living in the library working to get by. Her classmates enjoyed extravagant, expensive private parties for their birthdays. For hers, she would have her best friends over to the library.

Families in Sharon’s economic situation relied on clinics and other social services for their medical care, but the Washington family enjoyed quality health care provided through George’s good union job. “As a child, I never went to a clinic,” Sharon recalled in an interview. “I had a regular doctor. When I went off to college, the doctor I had most of my life wished me well. I had a doctor because of DC 37,” New York City’s largest public employee union and an AFSCME affiliate.

Her father would always say, “It’s that union. They took care of everything,” Sharon recalled. “My father was really proud to be part of a union.”

When her father retired and moved to South Carolina, his union health insurance continued. Sharon said that was a “great relief” for her.

Asked why she decided to tell her family’s story now, through her play, Sharon said, “I want to preserve the history for me and everyone else.” Memories were fading even for her, she explained, and wanted to “keep the story alive” through her writing.

Her father’s story is an important part of the history of working families in New York City, one that far too few know about. If not for that job, her family may not have had a place of their own to live. If not for the children’s librarians reading to Sharon, she might never have become a storyteller.

Sharon’s play, “Feeding the Dragon,” will have its world debut at the Pittsburgh City Theatre in Pennsylvania, on Oct. 22, 2016. It is as if Sharon’s new furnace is the life and legacy of her loving union parents. Even though technology has rendered the coal furnaces and the live-in maintenance worker obsolete, Sharon remains committed to sticking to her family’s motto, keeping the story alive and not letting the furnace go out.

Workers and Community Stand United to Save Howard University Hospital Wed, 28 Sep 2016 15:04:00 -0500 On Saturday, hundreds of Howard University Hospital (HUH) employees and community members rallied to highlight the important role the hospital plays in the community. From providing healthcare to freed slaves during the Civil War to its current role as the  only teaching hospital attached to a historically black college or university, the HUH, formerly Freedmen’s Hospital, has a rich history of addressing the needs of under-served communities with high quality healthcare.

Attendees demonstrated their continued commitment to their community with free health screenings and information about the services available at HUH. Members of 1199DC National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees (NUHHCE), AFSCME, which represents over 600 workers, are working together with hospital management to enhance hospital operations and improve the quality of care for DC residents.

“The women and men who work in Howard University Hospital understand the significance of the vital services they provide to their community and are committed to preserving and improving them. We have worked with the hospital administration to turn around the hospital,” said Wanda Shelton-Martin, District 1199DC NUHHCE, AFSCME, area director. “It is important that we spread the word that the hospital is open and provides high quality care to the surrounding community.”

The hospital faced tough economic times, resulting in lay-offs. Shelton-Martin warned, “if the community doesn’t return to the hospital, they will continue to have cuts and eventually close. It would be a disgrace to the legacy of one of DC’s most important foundations to have it close and hurt the surrounding community.”

Emergency services in the District are outsourced and patients select where they want to be taken, unlike the rotating system that previously existed. Workers and management alike realized how important it is that the community know that top-notch services are available right in their own neighborhood. Following the rally, the union and hospital management intend to launch their next campaign ‘Take Me to Howard’ to encourage residents to choose HUH. Often EMS drivers pass HUH on their way to other city hospitals.

“If we are going to survive and preserve the amazing history of Howard, we must all come together,” said Henry Nicholas, president of NUHHCE and an AFSCME international vice president.

Presidential Debate Reaffirms Clinton as Choice for Working Families Tue, 27 Sep 2016 12:36:00 -0500 Working families across the country tuned in to watch last night’s presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and what they saw should reaffirm their choice of Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.

In her answers, Secretary Clinton shared a vision for our country that is aligned with the values, hopes and economic interests of American middle class families. She would make the wealthiest in our nation pay their fair share of taxes to invest in the future of our communities; she would make college education more affordable and alleviate the burden of student loan debt; she would raise the federal minimum wage and add protections for workers who have no paid sick days or parental leave.

“The central question in this election is really what kind of country we want to be and what kind of future we'll build together,” she said. “Today is my granddaughter's second birthday, so I think about this a lot. First, we have to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top. That means we need new jobs, good jobs, with rising incomes.”

Trump, by contrast, would give the very rich a tax break, promoting a failed theory that when the rich get richer the rest of us somehow benefit as well. Called trickle-down economics, it’s a failed theory that has contributed to income inequality over the past three decades.

“I don't think top-down works in America,” Secretary Clinton said. “I think building the middle class, investing in the middle class, making college debt-free so more young people can get their education, helping people refinance their debt from college at a lower rate. Those are the kinds of things that will really boost the economy. Broad-based, inclusive growth is what we need in America, not more advantages for people at the very top.”

AFSCME members support Hillary Clinton because she is committed to fixing our out-of-balance economy and to raising incomes for hardworking people. We want a President who will make it easier instead of harder to join together in strong unions and stand together for wages and benefits that can sustain our families.

Hillary Clinton will tackle the issues that affect ordinary Americans’ quality of life, and last night’s presidential debate reaffirmed that. She shares AFSCME’s values and is a proven champion for working families.

Corporations Rake in Profits, so Trump Wants to Lower their Taxes. Huh? Mon, 26 Sep 2016 15:36:00 -0500 Even though corporate profits are way up, taxes collected on those profits are at near record lows, according to research compiled by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF). This is a recipe for damaging the nation’s economic wellbeing at a time when we need to lift the middle class the most.

Tax loopholes allow corporations to both rake in tons of money and decrease the tax they pay on those profits. Among the biggest loopholes, according to EPI and ATF, is a legal scheme called deferral. Through it, “American multinational corporations can indefinitely postpone payment of taxes owed on profits held offshore.”

The EPI/ATF report said corporations stockpiled $2.4 trillion in profits in foreign subsidiaries. Just four companies – Apple, Pfizer, Microsoft and General Electric – control one-quarter of those profits,” the report states.

If taxed in the U.S. those offshored profits would add $700 billion to the national treasury.

Corporations Rake in Profits, so Trump Wants to Lower their Taxes. Huh?

“These large multinational corporations can certainly afford to pay the taxes they owe,” said EPI budget analyst Hunter Blair.

Yet billionaire real estate mogul and Presidential candidate Donald Trump wants to give himself and his corporate buddies an even bigger tax break. Under Trump, the corporate tax rate would be cut from 35 to 15 percent. That would reduce federal revenue by $1.9 trillion over the next decade, reports The New York Times.

Why should we care?

“When corporations avoid paying billions of dollars of U.S. taxes they would otherwise owe, the tax burden on responsible corporations and citizens is unfairly increased,” states a resolution passed at AFSCME’s national Convention this July.

Trump says he wants to help working families, but in the topsy turvey world of Trumponomics, it’s the wealthiest Americans and corporations whose profits are already at record high levels that would profit the most from his ill-conceived tax-cutting scheme, according to EPI’s Blair.

The EPI/ATF report is a wake-up call for voters and lawmakers who think Trump’s plan to slash the corporate tax rate is the solution for the nation’s economic ills. In reality, it will only add to them.

Your Newest Union Benefit: Free College Fri, 23 Sep 2016 13:24:00 -0500 Working families are getting squeezed in all kinds of ways these days, but few expenses are more frightening than higher education. Whether you’ve got kids graduating high school or you’re looking to move forward in your own career, you’ve probably wondered how you’ll manage to keep up with skyrocketing tuition costs.

There’s less to worry about thanks to a new benefit for AFSCME members and families. Starting this summer, every member or retiree member, as well as spouses, children, grandchildren and dependents of AFSCME members, can earn a two-year degree online for free. That’s right — free college just for being a member in good standing.

Flexible Options for Working Families

AFSCME is partnering with Eastern Gateway Community College to provide all members and families access to their classes online. Eastern Gateway is an accredited, non-profit public institution with campuses serving eastern Ohio, but AFSCME members can enroll in the distance learning program from anywhere in the country. Right now you can earn an associate degree in Business Management or Criminal Justice, or you can complete an Associate of Arts program that can be transferred to a four-year college.

The enrollment process is simple. Just visit and verify your AFSCME membership. From there, you can fill out a simple Eastern Gateway application form and an online financial aid form. You will be contacted by an enrollment advisor to help you with any questions you may have about enrollment. You may also contact your local or council. AFSCME members around the country are being trained to help one another through the process.

This program has been running in Ohio for a year now, and hundreds of AFSCME members and their families are already taking advantage of it.

Beverly Payne, a member of Local 416, OAPSE/AFSCME, has been working full time as the secretary and transportation coordinator for a preschool for 30 years. She spends her days helping children get a start on learning. But her own educational goals were on the back burner until now.

“I had wanted to go to college a long time ago, but with four children I never had time,” she says. “When I heard about this program I decided to finally get my degree at 71 years old.”

Learning Without the Price Tag

Payne wasn’t sure how she’d adjust to student life after 50 years in the workforce. But the program allows her to take one class at a time, and her professors have been very supportive. The online, self-paced classes offered in the program are broken into two eight-week sessions each semester.  She’s acing her classes so far — and her positive experience has encouraged her family members to enroll, too.

“My daughter is enrolled right now, and another daughter is looking into it, as is my granddaughter,” she says. A third daughter has her bachelor’s degree but is thinking of taking additional courses to further her career.

The Department of Education estimates that the average associate’s program costs $3,440 per semester. It would ordinarily cost tens of thousands of dollars to put six family members through school — but thanks to AFSCME, Beverly Payne can do it simply by keeping up-to-date with her union dues.

“Public service workers are passionate about their jobs. They strive to do better for their families and their communities, and they want their union’s help to grow personally and advance professionally,” said AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders. “We know the important role education plays in the lives of so many working-class families — helping them learn new skills and climb the ladder of opportunity. This partnership will help public service workers and their families prosper, and live their best lives.”

AFSCME Free College
AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Statement on the Senate Fast Track Vote Tue, 23 Jun 2015 16:59:53 -0500 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.”