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 Too Many Workplace Injuries Go Unreported. You Can Help Us Fix That http://www.afscme.org/blog/too-many-workplace-injuries-go-unreported-you-can-help-us-fix-that Wed, 01 Oct 2014 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/too-many-workplace-injuries-go-unreported-you-can-help-us-fix-that Workers who suffer injuries on the job too often fail to report it because they worry their employer will retaliate. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing to make it a violation for an employer to discourage employee reporting of workplace injuries. You can help us make that happen, but we need to know ASAP!

The fear of employer retaliation for reporting workplace injuries is well-founded. Also, some employers have policies that discourage reporting of injuries. OSHA recognizes the problem and wants to make it easier for workers to report such injuries, free of worry that it may lead to bad consequences. As part of its rulemaking process, the agency is seeking public comments.

AFSCME wants to help OSHA accomplish its rulemaking goal, so we are asking for your help. If any AFSCME member has experienced a threat of retaliation for reporting a workplace injury, or has actually experienced employer disciplining, threatening, demoting or taking other retaliatory action for reporting an injury on the job, we want to hear from you as soon as possible.

Please send us an email detailing your experience so we may offer it into evidence. No names will be used to protect your privacy. If your employer has a written policy that punishes workers for reporting injuries, please send that to us as well. Please email the information to osha@afscme.org no later than Oct. 10.

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Walker Not ‘Bringing On’ Jobs http://www.afscme.org/blog/walker-not-bringing-on-jobs Tue, 30 Sep 2014 17:27:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/walker-not-bringing-on-jobs Economists track Wisconsin’s Failure to Recover

MADISON, Wisconsin – Gov. Scott Walker said “bring it on” when Politifact said it would track his promise to add 250,000 private-sector jobs in his first four-year term.

Walker threatened to add his own counter, but we haven’t heard much from him about job creation. The Politifact track is setting the record straight.

As of Sept. 18, economists at Politifact say, Walker is guilty of a “broken promise.” He’s up to 40 percent of his promise, with 102,195 jobs created, but Wisconsin ranks 35th in the nation as far as job growth, and dead last in the Midwest.

From January 2014 to August 2014, Walker’s so-called “reforms” produced a paltry 8,800 new private-sector jobs. That is hardly a comeback, or proof that his radical agenda did anything to grow Wisconsin’s economy. 

While just a few months ago Wisconsin found a $1 billion surplus, Walker since somehow found a place big enough to dig a $1.8 billion deficit.

No amount of spin can change dead last and a $1.8 billion deficit into anything more than a giant hole in the ground.

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Boehner’s Goals Are Not Your Goals http://www.afscme.org/blog/boehners-goals-are-not-your-goals Tue, 30 Sep 2014 14:40:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/boehners-goals-are-not-your-goals It’s the same old playbook, rolled out yet again by House Speaker John Boehner. Reduce government, cut taxes on the wealthiest, limit regulations and lawsuits on businesses, and abandon public schools. Apparently word hasn’t sunk in to certain parts of Congress that these same old priorities won’t wash.

There are many reasons why the plan is off the mark for most Americans. Here are just a few:

Nowhere does Boehner address the need for Americans to have enough food to feed their families, to have a job to pay the bills, to have affordable health care coverage or an assurance of a decent retirement. These are America’s real priorities.

Boehner and other extremists in the House of Representatives need to hear from real working class Americans, not just corporate CEOs and the ultra-rich. The midterm election is the ideal time to send a message. Make sure you’re registered and ready to vote on the priorities of working families. Learn more here.

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Prosecutor Says Governor Wants ‘Special Favors’ http://www.afscme.org/blog/prosecutor-says-governor-wants-special-favors Tue, 30 Sep 2014 14:27:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/prosecutor-says-governor-wants-special-favors AUSTIN, Texas – Gov. Rick Perry is “making a mockery” of the Texas’ justice system and is seeking “special favors” by asking to skip an upcoming pretrial hearing, said the special prosecutor overseeing the state’s abuse-of-power case against Perry.

“I don’t think there’s any reason why Mr. Perry should be treated any different from any other citizen who’s required to be in court,” stated Michael McCrum, the state’s prosecutor. “He’s asking for special favors, and as far as I’m concerned, he’s not entitled to it.”

Lawyers for Perry, who is currently under indictment for allegedly attempting to use his authority to force a state official to resign, asked the judge to excuse him from an Oct. 13 pretrial because the governor is expected to be in Europe on business during that period.

“It’s clear that the governor is trying to evade responsibility,” stated Thomas Jones, vice-president of AFSCME Local 3807. “Even as a career politician, Perry has consistently shown a track record for sidestepping important issues, including health care, education and prison reform.” 

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Workers Take to the Streets to Protect the Environment http://www.afscme.org/blog/workers-take-to-the-streets-to-protect-the-environment Tue, 30 Sep 2014 14:01:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/workers-take-to-the-streets-to-protect-the-environment NEW YORK CITY – Members of AFSCME District Council 37 joined with thousands of other concerned neighbors to demand a global climate agreement. Just two days before President Obama and other world leaders came together for an emergency Climate Summit, a broad-based coalition of community, faith and labor activists marched on the United Nations to ask world leaders to take swift and decisive action.

AFSCME members, especially those of DC 37 and CSEA Local 1000, are uniquely able to discuss the impact of severe storms, such as that of Hurricane Sandy that struck New York City in 2012. In the lead up to, during and in the aftermath of the storm it was all-hands-on-deck for many AFSCME members – from FDNY EMS workers racing to save lives to 911 operators answering the call for help, and from school cafeteria workers moving out of their own homes into shelters to feed the homeless to sewage treatment workers battling the rising waters and saving lives.

“If anyone ever doubted that there is a climate crisis, Superstorm Sandy of 2012 offered definitive proof that the climate crisis is here,” said DC 37 Executive Director and International Vice President Lillian Roberts. “Now, we must work to prevent climate catastrophes. The leaders of the world need to come together to address this crisis with the seriousness that it deserves. We need real solutions – not just talk.”

The People’s Climate March was the largest demonstration for climate action in history. More than 800 organizations from around the world supported the march, from the largest transit workers union in New York City to a coalition of Buddhist monks. In total, the groups represent roughly 100 million people worldwide.

Climate negotiators will head to Lima, Peru, in December 2014 to work towards a global climate deal. Then, in September 2015 world leaders will meet back in New York to adopt a new development agenda called the Sustainable Development Goals. In December 2015, they will gather in Paris to try and sign a new international climate treaty.

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Miami-Dade Library Employees Win Funding, Beat Mayor http://www.afscme.org/blog/miami-dade-library-employees-win-funding-beat-mayor Thu, 25 Sep 2014 16:52:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/miami-dade-library-employees-win-funding-beat-mayor MIAMI – Miami-Dade library staff won a hard-fought victory Sept. 18 in a budget battle against a mayor who proposed drastic cuts to the public library system.

While backing multimillion-dollar giveaways to professional sports teams and large corporations, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez sought to balance the resulting $20 million budget shortfall by slashing funding for an award-winning library system. Had he won, those cuts would have closed nearly half of the county’s 49 branches, resulted in hundreds of full-time staff layoffs and left thousands of underserved residents without an essential resource.

But during the county’s final hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2014-2015 budget, commissioners voted 8 to 4 to stave off layoffs and prevent further cuts to the library’s budget, keeping the system fully funded through the next fiscal year.

“This is a huge win for our library system and for the patrons we serve every day,” said Ricci Yuhico, an AFSCME Local 199 member and cofounder of Community Advocates for Libraries in Miami (CALM).It did not happen overnight. It took hours and hours of organizing, working with our union, colleagues and community partners at late-night meetings, petitioning our elected officials, standing up to intimidation and rallying broad community support.”

Before they could mount a public challenge to the mayor’s budget, Yuhico, fellow Local 199 members and their coworkers in the library system overcame several obstacles in the workplace, tackling fear of retaliation among colleagues for fighting back. Library employees circulated a petition among their colleagues and garnered an overwhelming majority of signatures from everyone in the system demanding answers from the library administration for acquiescing to the cuts.

“This win is a testament to what can be accomplished if we come together in numbers as a union, empower our coworkers by educating them about their rights, and fight back,” said Local 199 member and Library Assistant 3 Philip MacAdams.

 “We put up a fight that the mayor and county commissioners could not ignore and we will continue to fight for the funding our communities need and deserve,” said Yuhico.  

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Google, Facebook, Yelp Abandon ALEC http://www.afscme.org/blog/google-drops-lying-alec Wed, 24 Sep 2014 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/google-drops-lying-alec If you Google “companies that have cut ties with ALEC,” you’ll find…Google.

AFSCME was one of 50 organizations that earlier this month urged the Internet giant to stop funding ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a vehicle for corporate members to lobby state lawmakers. ALEC is well-known for developing cookie-cutter bills that lawmakers introduce in their states.

The legislation typically supports corporate tax cuts; opposes workers’ rights, collective bargaining and regulations that protect the workplace and the environment; and denies climate change. Whatever the focus, the bottom line of the bills is the same: They advance a corporate agenda at the expense of working people.

Erick Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, announced the decision this week. He said in an interview on The Diane Rehm Show that ALEC was “literally lying” about climate change. That, he said, led to Google’s decision.  He said it was a mistake for Google to have gotten involved with ALEC at all. The company will not renew its membership at the end of the year.

With this decision, Google joins a growing list of companies that are backing away from ALEC, including Coca-Cola, CVS, General Motors, Kraft, McDonald’s and Microsoft. Even the oil company Occidental Petroleum has cut ties with ALEC. And just this week, one of the latest to indicate it would leave is Facebook, the global social media giant, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle. Yelp, an online referral service, also reportedly is abandoning ALEC, as is Yahoo.

As of this month, 86 corporations and 19 nonprofits made that choice.

Lisa Nelson, ALEC’s chief executive, said Google cut ties with ALEC “as a result of public pressure” from several organizations. AFSCME is proud to be one of them.

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Heroic Bus Driver Dies Saving Student http://www.afscme.org/blog/heroic-bus-driver-dies-saving-student Tue, 23 Sep 2014 17:12:12 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/heroic-bus-driver-dies-saving-student AKRON, Ohio – Laura Zborowski, an Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) union member and bus driver was killed Sept. 16 after pushing a 10-year-old student out of the way of a bus rolling backwards during an emergency evacuation drill. Zborowski was struck and run over by the bus. Parents, students and the community are hailing her as a hero.

"She sacrificed her own life to save the life of this 10-year-old girl," said Akron police Lt. Rick Edwards. Long-time neighbor Steven Mikel said he's not surprised by her heroism and said she loved her job as a bus driver and the children she drove.

“She was a nice lady," said one student.  “She'd bring me home safely; she brought me to school safely."

Zborowski was a member of Local 113 and served on the organizing committee for drivers working for the recently unionized, private bus company Petermann. She was instrumental in making AFSCME its exclusive representative. She was 51 years old and leaves a 12-year-old son.

"Laura Zborowski is a true hero. She sacrificed her own life to save a little girl in her charge," said Joe Rugola, executive director of OAPSE and an AFSCME International vice president. "The entire OAPSE family honors Laura's selfless act and her example of dedication and service. We will remember her for her courage and her sacrifice but also for the work she did every day to keep her students safe on the ride to and from school."

More information will be available soon about how to donate to Laura's memory.

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Are You Ready for Election Day? http://www.afscme.org/blog/are-you-ready-for-election-day Tue, 23 Sep 2014 12:25:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/are-you-ready-for-election-day Today is National Voter Registration Day.  If you’re not already registered to vote or if you need to update your registration, take some time today! The AFL-CIO set up a new online tool that makes it easy. The site will also help you vote by mail and send you text message reminders on Election Day.

If you moved or changed your name since the last election, you need to update your registration.  And in many states, you need to make the changes at least a month before Election Day. But don’t delay! Do it today!

Right now, working people are under attack like never before.  If we don’t get to the polls and change the leadership in Washington and in our state capitols, things will only get worse.  If we don’t want another Congress seeking to cut Social Security and Medicare, or more of the Koch brothers’ cronies in governors’ offices cutting public services, we have to take action on Nov. 4.

Four years ago, not enough of us turned out to vote and we let the tea-party extremists push the agenda in the states and Washington. This year, we know the stakes are too high to sit back and let others decide the course for our government.

Please share the link above and talk to your coworkers and friends about why the midterm elections are so important to working people. For the Next Wavers among us, get on the bandwagon and Rock the Vote. And share on Facebook and Twitter #CelebrateNVRD.

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A Message for AFSCME Members from Sen. Elizabeth Warren http://www.afscme.org/blog/a-message-for-afscme-members-from-sen-elizabeth-warren Mon, 22 Sep 2014 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/a-message-for-afscme-members-from-sen-elizabeth-warren Senator Warren has a message for AFSCME members. She sent us this video for AFSCME Council 31’s recent PEOPLE conference, but it’s a message that speaks to us all.
 
As Senator Warren says, “AFSCME members know the challenges working men and women face.” While Senator Warren is not on a ballot this November, she reminds us why it’s so important that we get out to vote this fall. It may not seem like it, but the elections are just around the corner. We need more politicians who will fight the good fight for working people. Watch the video below, and pledge to vote this November.

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AFSCME Partners with Thurgood Marshall College Fund http://www.afscme.org/blog/afscme-partners-with-thurgood-marshall-college-fund Mon, 22 Sep 2014 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/afscme-partners-with-thurgood-marshall-college-fund WASHINGTON, DC ─ The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO, the nation's largest public service workers union, announced today a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) in its Union Scholars Program to provide educational opportunities and scholarships to talented students of color from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other colleges and universities.

"Our commitment to students of color at historically black and other colleges and universities is unwavering," said AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders. "AFSCME's partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund enables us to continue a tradition of developing young leaders who are dedicated and passionate about making a difference in our society." 

"HBCUs have a history of educating minorities, which contributes to the diversity of today's workforce," said TMCF President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.  "The increased cost of college, along with stricter grant and loan payments, make gifts like this more important. AFSCME is demonstrating a commitment to improve education and build a pipeline for tomorrow's workforce."

Named for Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African American on the U.S. Supreme Court, TMCF is the only national organization providing scholarships and programmatic and capacity-building support to the 47 publicly supported HBCUs, medical schools and law schools. TMCF supports and represents nearly 300,000 students from its member schools, and awarded more than $200 million in financial assistance.

AFSCME launched its Union Scholars Program in 2003 and, since its inception, students from more than 40 institutions of higher learning participated. Students must be a second-semester sophomore or junior with a minimum 2.5 grade point average majoring in American Studies, Ethnic Studies, History, Labor Studies, Political Science, Psychology, Public Policy, Social Work, Sociology, Women's Studies and other fields of study.

The AFSCME Union Scholars Program provides students with an internship and the opportunity to earn money for college. They work on the frontlines of organizing campaigns, helping workers gain a voice on the job and better their lives for themselves and their families.

AFSCME has a long history of activism and a historic connection with civil rights. On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in Memphis, where he'd gone to support the 1,300 black sanitation workers of AFSCME Local 1733 in their strike for better pay, union recognition and respect.

Today, AFSCME represents 1.6 million members, including home care and child care workers, nurses, clerical workers, sanitation workers and countless others who work for cities, counties, states, the federal government and universities, non-profit agencies and private companies.  

TMCF was established in 1987 and through its scholarships and programs TMCF plays a key role in preparing the leaders of tomorrow.

 

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Help us Register 1,000 New Voters http://www.afscme.org/blog/help-us-register-1000-new-voters Mon, 22 Sep 2014 10:19:06 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/help-us-register-1000-new-voters Tuesday, Sept. 23, is National Voter Registration Day!  It’s important to make sure that your voter registration is up to date well in advance of Election Day, Nov. 4.  In many states, new registrations and changes to existing registrations must be made at least a month before the election.

Those restrictions are just one of the reasons that fewer than half of eligible Americans vote in midterm elections.  But with our livelihoods at stake in this election, we can’t let registration deadlines hold us back.  That’s why the Coalition of Labor Union Women is teaming up with the League of Women Voters to get people registered early.

On Monday evening, Sept. 22, the two groups are holding a teleforum to train volunteers.  If you want to take part in their effort, just visit this web page and click on the link at the bottom. Anyone is welcome to participate.

Thirty-six governors’ seats and more than 2,000 seats in state legislatures across the nation are up for grabs this November.  These are the people who make decisions about our jobs and the services we provide.  We want to make sure that working people are represented in government. Get involved!

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Nuns on the Bus Rolling Out Again http://www.afscme.org/blog/nuns-on-the-bus-rolling-out-again Fri, 19 Sep 2014 17:56:19 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/nuns-on-the-bus-rolling-out-again The nuns of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby, are hitting the road this fall to educate voters about the destructive influence of unlimited spending on campaigns. The bus tour, titled “We the People. We the Voters,” kicked off in Des Moines on Wednesday.

On hand to send off the sisters were Vice Pres. Joe Biden and AFSCME Council 61 Pres. Danny Homan. The nuns will travel through 10 battleground states and 36 cities, holding voter registration drives and encouraging Americans to get active this election season.

With the gold dome of Iowa’s Statehouse in the background, Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, said, “Money doesn’t convey truth. Everyone should be able to use their voice. Everybody should be able to come to the table. But you can’t buy the table — sorry, it’s wrong.”

Pres. Danny Homan, who is also an AFSCME International vice president, reminded the audience of AFSCME’s long history advocating on social justice issues, and condemned today’s vast disparity between the very wealthy and working Americans. He called on lawmakers in Iowa and Washington, DC, to increase the minimum wage.

“Nobody who works hard every day should have to live in poverty. Nobody who works hard every day should have to struggle to put food on the table,” said Homan. “But that’s the reality for the 7.5 million Americans earning minimum wage.”

This is the sisters’ third tour. The first, in 2012, raised awareness of Rep. Paul Ryan’s devastating federal budget proposal that would have turned Medicare and Medicaid into a voucher program, privatized Social Security and cut programs like Head Start and food stamps. Last year, the tour focused on immigration reform.

Vice President Biden praised the sisters for their activism, saying “I know no group of people who bring a greater sense of justice and passion to what they do.”

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Senator Warren, Koch Sisters Lead Rally to Protect Social Security, Medicare http://www.afscme.org/blog/senator-warren-koch-sisters-lead-rally-to-protect-social-security-medicare Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/senator-warren-koch-sisters-lead-rally-to-protect-social-security-medicare Vowing that she and other Democrats “will not stand by and let Social Security be cut or allow Medicare to be gutted,” U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren rallied some 300 activists on Capitol Hill Thursday. She was joined by the anti-Koch brothers “Koch Sisters” and several other members of Congress who promised to stand strong against tea-party attacks on the social safety net.

“They are trying to create a crisis so they can cut Social Security and Medicare, but there is no crisis,” Warren said. “There may be a health care crisis in this country, but it’s Medicare – with the improvements brought by the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare – that is fixing our problem. Medicare is lowering health care costs not only for seniors, but for every American.”

The Koch Sisters, in Washington to work with the AFL-CIO on the campaign to support worker-friendly candidates this fall, said they received lots of support for calling out the billionaire Koch brothers, who support tea-party candidates nationally and at the state and local levels. “We’ve got a message for politicians who want to mess with Social Security,” said Joyce Koch. “Don’t even try it!”

Also addressing the boisterous rally was Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), who is running to fill Sen. Tom Harkin’s open Senate seat. “I have voted against raising the retirement age several times, and I will never agree to it,” he said. “What we need to do is raise the minimum wage, which will add another $55 billion to the Social Security coffers.”

The rally was sponsored by Americans United for Change, the AFL-CIO and a dozen unions, including AFSCME. Senator Warren was introduced by Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “We need more leaders like Elizabeth Warren who will stand with us to defend Social Security and Medicare,” she said. “Those are the leaders we will stand with on Election Day.”

Warren said she was happy to recite the numbers on Social Security “because the numbers are on our side. We have built a system that will last another 20 years before we have to make any changes. But this is about values, how we live and what we do together,” she said. “Our Social Security system says something about the dignity of human beings, that when you work a lifetime you deserve the dignity of a decent retirement.”

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Celebrating Hispanic Heritage, Supporting Latinos http://www.afscme.org/blog/celebrating-hispanic-heritage-supporting-latinos Thu, 18 Sep 2014 11:52:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/celebrating-hispanic-heritage-supporting-latinos During National Hispanic Heritage Month, AFSCME is proud to recognize the contributions of the nearly 53 million Hispanics living in the United States and to highlight the issues facing our Hispanic sisters and brothers.

Hispanic Americans have a profound and positive influence on our country through their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work and service. They enhance and shape our national character with centuries-old traditions that reflect the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural customs of their communities.

This is a time of many accomplishments for the Hispanic community. The past decade saw a rise in Latino leadership and political representation, and today we have a Latino serving as the Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez, who succeeded the first Latina to serve as the Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis.

But while there is much to celebrate, Latinos still face tough problems. The recession hit all workers hard, but Latino workers were particularly hard hit. The unemployment rate among Latinos last month was 7.5 percent, compared with 6.2 percent for the nation as a whole – and Latinos who are working disproportionately work in low-paying jobs.

Studies show Latinos also have the highest high school dropout rate, the highest percentage of people without health insurance, the highest occurrence of wage theft and are the most in danger of being killed on the job.

Today, millions of Latino workers are restricted to working in the shadows, subject to exploitation and abuse. We cannot restore job quality and the quality of life for all workers, without addressing the status of millions of Latino immigrants in the United States. We cannot accomplish this without real, comprehensive immigration reform.

AFSCME is committed to finding a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Our immigration system is broken and this hurts all workers.

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, take a moment to send a letter to Congress asking them to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform. It’s the right thing to do – and the time is now.

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Private Prison Operator Sued by Texas Inmate for Allowing Sexual Abuse http://www.afscme.org/blog/private-prison-operator-sued-by-texas-inmate-for-allowing-sexual-abuse Tue, 16 Sep 2014 17:07:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/private-prison-operator-sued-by-texas-inmate-for-allowing-sexual-abuse Last week, a civil rights lawsuit was filed in a Texas federal court by a former prisoner against Corrections Corporation of America, one of the nation’s largest private, for-profit prison operators, and two of its employees for allegedly allowing the defendant to be sexually assaulted by other inmates at a facility in Bartlett, Texas.

The incident occurred during a sexual hazing ritual in which inmates are routinely forcibly stripped of their clothing by other prisoners and slammed against a protective glass window, exposing the victims’ naked bodies to prison staff on the other side.

According to court documents, CCA and the facility’s warden were aware of the hazing practice, but did nothing to stop it. After the defendant reported the incident, CCA subsequently put him in solitary confinement, which according to the lawsuit, is a common practice by CCA officials in responding to rape survivors’ outcries.

“It’s well known now that these private facilities lack the oversight capacity, training programs and staffing to protect inmates and correctional employees,” stated Lance Lowry, president of AFSCME Local 3807. “With the ever-growing list of scandals and lawsuits, states are now starting to rethink the whole idea of contracting out prison operations to private enterprises.”

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Wisconsin Governor’s Report Card Shows Failing Grade http://www.afscme.org/blog/wisconsin-governors-report-card-shows-failing-grade Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/wisconsin-governors-report-card-shows-failing-grade MADISON, Wis. – Gov. Scott Walker is known for setting records, just not the kind his parents could be proud of.

Between 2011and 2013, the Wisconsin governor cut public school funding by more per student than any other governor in the nation. His cuts totaled $1.6 billion during two years, reducing the revenue limit per student by 5.5 percent, the first time revenue caps were ever decreased.

With these massive cuts, 25 percent of Wisconsin’s schools reported increasing their kindergarten, first-, second- and third-grade class sizes, while 33 percent of schools increased class sizes for children in fourth through sixth grades.

But it doesn’t end there.  Twenty-six percent of school districts cut special education staff, 27 percent of districts cut library and media center staff and 16 percent cut drug and alcohol abuse staff.

We already reported that despite Walker’s promise to create 250,000 new jobs, Wisconsin is dead-last in job creation in the Midwest. Now his disturbing cuts in education. And somehow he managed to find money for a tax deduction of up to $10,000 that benefits millionaires who send their kids to elite private schools.

Watch this video to learn more.

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Officers Honored for Saving an Inmate’s Life http://www.afscme.org/blog/officers-honored-for-saving-an-inmates-life Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/officers-honored-for-saving-an-inmates-life TOMPKINS, N.Y. – Four corrections officers from the Tompkins County Corrections Facility were honored by the local Kiwanis Club as Officers of the Month.

The quick response and professional actions of Officers James Barrett, Robert Butcher, Mark Miller and John Talcott, members of AFSCME Local 2062, saved the life of an inmate who went into cardiac arrest during his intake. The officers each played a vital role in administering CPR and AED care to resuscitate the inmate and then took him to the hospital.

“These guys did what they do every day – provide exemplary service to our community,” said Matt Haney, president of AFSCME Local 2062. “Their quick response, effective use of their training and commitment to doing a good job saved a man’s life. They should be commended for their bravery and professionalism in a crisis situation.”

“We have corrections officers across the state who walk in jails and prisons never knowing if they will come out alive,” added James Lyman, executive director of AFSCME Council 82. “These dedicated women and men should be honored and recognized. These officers are prime examples of the high level of service our members provide to communities across the state.”

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Help For 9/11 Responders and Survivors http://www.afscme.org/blog/help-for-911-responders-and-survivors Fri, 12 Sep 2014 17:46:50 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/help-for-911-responders-and-survivors Were you a responder or survivor in New York, Washington, DC, or Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after the terrorists struck on Sept. 11, 2001? If so, you may be eligible for free medical monitoring and treatment through a federal program that AFSCME helped create.

The World Trade Center Health Program is open to all workers, including but not limited to emergency health workers, fire or police responders (active or retired)  and others who assisted in the rescue, recovery, clean-up and support following the attacks in those three locations.

In addition, it also provides treatment for those who lived, worked or went to school in the New York City disaster area, or attended daycare or adult daycare, or performed cleanup or maintenance, or were exposed to the dust cloud on that fearful day.

AFSCME DC 37 in New York, working with AFSCME’s Federal Government Affairs Department in Washington, helped develop and lobby Congress for the passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010.

DC 37 received a federal grant to register responders and survivors for the health program, and created a website to inform members about it.

For information on the World Trade Center Program, go to cdc.gov/wtc or call (888) 982-4748.

Learn more at WTC Health Program, District Council 37 Facebook.

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Michigan Lets Aramark Off the Hook http://www.afscme.org/blog/michigan-lets-aramark-off-the-hook Fri, 12 Sep 2014 17:43:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/michigan-lets-aramark-off-the-hook Ignoring a pattern of inappropriate and unsafe handling of prison food, the director of the Michigan Department of Corrections withdrew a $98,000 fine against Aramark, telling Gov. Rick Snyder’s chief of staff, Dennis Muchmore, in an email: “Our corrective action was too harsh.”

The fine was imposed for unauthorized meal substitutions, not preparing sufficient meals for the inmates and employing workers who fraternized with prisoners.

“That’s outrageous,” Nick Ciaramitaro, legislative director for AFSCME Council 25, told the Detroit Free Press. “Things only got worse after the first fine.”

Aramark, the food service outsourcer that operates in a number of corrections facilities, was fined at least three times this year in two states for ongoing violations. These violations included maggots in prison kitchens, short staffing, unauthorized meal substitutions, failing to prepare sufficient meals for inmates, and employing workers who smuggled contraband and engaged in sex acts with prisoners.

Although the fines add up to nearly $400,000 to concerned citizens, the corporation’s ongoing violations were never about the money. The outrage is about the fact that privateers like Aramark will always look out for their own interests and those of their stakeholders before they do what’s in the best interests of taxpayers and the communities where they operate.

After all, Aramark has a three-year, $145-million contract with the state of Michigan alone. The fines levied against it this year represent one fourth of 1 percent of the value of just one of its contracts.

If public officials, including Governor Snyder, wish to do what’s right, they should begin by holding Aramark accountable for its ongoing violations. One way to do that would be to cancel its contract with the state and return public jobs where they belong – in public hands.

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Mo’ne’s Coach: ‘I Have the Greatest Job in the World’ http://www.afscme.org/blog/mones-coach-i-have-the-greatest-job-in-the-world Thu, 11 Sep 2014 11:10:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/mones-coach-i-have-the-greatest-job-in-the-world PHILADELPHIA – The world was watching Aug. 22 when Mo’ne Davis, a pitcher for the Taney Dragons, became the first girl to pitch a shutout in the 67-year history of the Little League World Series. Although the team would eventually fall short of its ultimate goal of winning the LLWS title, Mo’ne won the hearts of America and became an instant role model for countless young girls around the world.

Little was known about the man behind the superstar, her coach Steve Bandura, a Philadelphia city worker and member of AFSCME Local 2187, who works at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center in South Philly. Bandura began as a volunteer at the local recreation center in 1989, later to leave a marketing job to pursue a career with the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Department, where he established a baseball, basketball and soccer league for inner-city Philadelphia kids.

“I took a pay cut, but I have the greatest job in the world,” said Bandura. “I look forward to going to work every day because I get to help kids. I am passionate about this – and when you follow your passion, you can make a difference in the lives of others.”

Throughout Philadelphia, members of Local 2187 work with children to develop skills in sports and life. They provide a safe haven to children who might not otherwise have a place to go after school or during the summer. Bandura even put his baseball team on the road to give them more experience.

“We open doors of opportunity. When we give kids opportunity – they excel,” continued Bandura. “Tax dollars are well spent on Recreation Centers. It’s a worthwhile investment, resulting in quality kids with outstanding character.”

Bandura discovered Mo’ne’s athletic abilities in 2008 when he saw her playing football at the recreation center. Mo’ne and her teammates play sports year-round, including soccer and basketball. She and her teammates have competed together for years.

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We Remember http://www.afscme.org/blog/we-remember-9-11-14 Thu, 11 Sep 2014 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/we-remember-9-11-14 “I just had to go after those who would come after me,” recalled one New York City police officer who was digging in the rubble of the World Trade Center with his bare hands in the days after the terrorist attack on our nation. In this video, the frantic search for survivors that evolved into a somber search for victims is recalled by AFSCME-represented officers, paramedics, dispatchers and other public service workers on the anniversary of 9/11.

Video produced in 2011 on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

It was a profoundly emotional few days, and the wounds from that tragic event will haunt our nation for years to come. The workers at Ground Zero recall how they approached their jobs that day, when we all came together in the face of a national tragedy. We will never forget.

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Long Lines Lead to Child Care Organizing Opportunity http://www.afscme.org/blog/long-lines-lead-to-child-care-organizing-opportunity Wed, 10 Sep 2014 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/long-lines-lead-to-child-care-organizing-opportunity MILWAUKEE – In the face of anti-union legislation that has left working people reeling from Gov. Scott Walker’s political agenda, family child care providers in Milwaukee and across Wisconsin have fought back and begun organizing with AFSCME/Child Care Providers Together Wisconsin.

The breaking point came when the state forced providers working in Milwaukee County to deliver their timesheets in person downtown at the Milwaukee Early Care Administration (MECA) offices in order to get paid in a timely manner. The result was hours-long lines extending out the building and down the block from the early morning through the afternoon –  time those providers could have used caring for children.

“This was a blatant slap in the face to the providers in Milwaukee,” said Glenda Haynes, a child care provider who was forced to wait in line for hours. “No provider in any other county was forced to do this.”

Those lines, however, resulted in an opportunity for AFSCME/CCPT organizers who visited providers in line to talk union and bring water to ensure none lost their place in line. Soon, activists inside and outside the building created the pressure needed to get a meeting with MECA leaders and the in-person requirement was lifted.

The time-sheet resolution – along with new accreditation courses offered at no cost to AFSCME/CCPT members – has spurred a growth in the local, tripling membership in just two months.

“The word is getting out about the resources and the unity the union can provide,” said Anneliese Sheahan, president of the AFSCME/CCPT local. “For just $25 a month for membership, the union provides so many resources that benefit all providers.”

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Secretary-Treasurer Reyes Takes ALS Bucket Splash http://www.afscme.org/blog/secretary-treasurer-reyes-takes-als-bucket-splash Tue, 09 Sep 2014 17:05:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/secretary-treasurer-reyes-takes-als-bucket-splash Challenged by AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders, Sec.-Treas. Laura Reyes took the plunge last week, taking a bucket of ice water on her head to benefit ALS research.

“As a union woman and proud AFSCME member, I accept the challenge,” she said. In turn, she challenged “my sisters at the Women’s Leadership Academy,” as well as Kathryn Lybarger of AFSCME Local 3299 in California, an AFSCME International vice president.

Secretary-Treasurer Reyes pledged to make a personal donation, added to the $1,000 already pledged by AFSCME for research to fight the neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The “ice bucket challenges” helped raise nearly $100 million for ALS research since the end of July.

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Chicago Taxi Drivers Demand Due Process http://www.afscme.org/blog/chicago-taxi-drivers-demand-due-process Fri, 05 Sep 2014 16:41:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/blog/chicago-taxi-drivers-demand-due-process

CHICAGO – Frustrated by an unjust system that denies due process to taxi cab drivers cited for code violations, more than 400 members of Cab Drivers United (CDU)-AFSCME demonstrated this week outside the Chicago Department of Administrative Hearings (DOAH).

For Chicago’s drivers, a hearing date at DOAH is the last step in a process that efficiently and effectively strips drivers of their rights and hard-earned income.

According to a study released by Cab Drivers United-AFSCME in June, drivers pay thousands of dollars each month to lease their cab or finance a medallion, and work 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week. And yet they find their modest income in serious jeopardy over the slightest infraction, regardless of guilt, and typically without the opportunity to present evidence to an impartial judge.

“The system here at 400 West Superior is set up to prevent drivers from ever having our day in court,” said taxi driver and CDU member Maxwell Akenten. “The enormous fines and penalties are used by the city as leverage to pressure us into settling and paying a fine without ever making our case. It’s coercion. We are automatically guilty; there is no due process for taxi drivers.”

CDU drivers already met with Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Maria Guerra Lapacek twice to highlight the areas her office can act on immediately to alleviate the impossible position drivers are in.

“We are asking for common-sense solutions to the problem facing taxi drivers,” said taxi driver and CDU member David Adenekan. “These are issues the commissioner could act on today.  She could work to create a fair system where drivers have the same expectation of justice and due process as the rest of Chicago.”

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