Press Release Feed Press Releases Tue, 3 May 2011 05:00:00 +0000 AMPS en hourly 1 President Saunders: We Need a Budget That Values Hard Work Wed, 18 Mar 2015 12:05:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders made the following statement regarding the Congressional budget proposals:

“The congressional majority plan is a bad prescription for the middle class– cutting programs we all rely on to keep our communities strong while giving special tax breaks  for the wealthy and corporations is the wrong way forward.  The Democratic alternatives provide what working families really need - real job creation and reinvestments in schools, road, bridges and communities.

“The budget alternative put forth by the Congressional Progressive Caucus will grow the economy by creating jobs and investing in our future.   In stark contrast, the congressional majority plan, doubles down on harmful sequestration cuts and guts vital programs, while robbing more than 16 million Americans of their health care. This approach will choke economic growth, and hurt middle class families.”

Institutional Investors Continue To Press Companies For Disclosure Of Lobbying In 2015 Fri, 13 Mar 2015 12:03:00 -0500 Corporate lobbying disclosure remains a top shareholder proposal topic for 2015, as more than 60 investors have filed proposals with more than 50 companies asking for lobbying disclosure reports that include federal and state lobbying payments, payments to trade associations used for lobbying and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation.

In 2014, resolutions relating to corporate political activity of a company were the most common shareholder proposal put forth during the proxy season for the fourth consecutive year, and it is expected that these will be one of the most popular shareholder proposal topics for 2015 proxy season. The bulk of political spending resolutions fall under two categories, either requesting disclosure of lobbying expenditures or seeking disclosure of political contributions.

Reflecting investors’ interest in disclosure of corporate political spending, a rulemaking petition at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to require disclosure of corporate political spending has received a record level of support for SEC rulemaking, with more than 1,100,000 comment letters submitted – the vast majority in support.

Proponents of the lobbying resolution believe that disclosure allows shareholders to evaluate whether lobbying is consistent with a company’s expressed goals and being done in the best interests of the company and shareholders. Corporate reputation is an important component of shareholder value, and controversial lobbying activity can pose serious reputational risks.

One large disclosure gap is undisclosed company payments to trade associations used to lobby. Trade associations do not have to disclose their members or source of funds used for lobbying, and the amounts are substantial. Undisclosed trade association payments used to lobby allow companies to influence policy anonymously. The amounts of corporate contributions that trade associations spend on lobbying are very large. For example, the Chamber of Commerce spent $124 million to lobby in 2014 and has spent over $1 billion on lobbying since 1998. To ensure company payments used by trade associations are being monitored, investors are asking companies to disclose all of their payments to trade associations that are used to lobby.

The proposals also continue to focus on reputational risks from involvement in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is a tax-exempt organization that convenes state lawmakers and corporations to approve model legislation that has included controversial bills on Voter ID, anti-immigration, reversing state regulations on renewable energy and blocking EPA regulation. Reflecting the importance of companies  managing  reputational risks of third party memberships, more than 100 companies have announced leaving ALEC, including Ameren, eBay, Emerson Electric, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, Occidental Petroleum and Yahoo. Prominent continuing ALEC members receiving 2015 proposals include: AT&T, Chevron, Comcast, Dominion Resources, ExxonMobil, Honeywell, Time Warner Cable and United Parcel Service.

Opponents of disclosure, which have included many of the largest trade associations, have claimed that disclosure is a form of silencing speech.[1] Yet disclosure does not prohibit corporate lobbying but instead enables shareholders to evaluate whether the lobbying is in the best interests of the company and shareholders. Undisclosed political spending can present reputational risk, and shareholder proponents are seeking lobbying disclosure to ensure that boards of directors are monitoring this risk.

This is the fifth year proposals asking for lobbying disclosure were filed by investors. In 2014, 60 proponents filed 49 lobbying disclosure proposals, and the 38 proposals went to vote averaging 26 percent support. In 2013, 70 proponents filed 50 proposals, and the 40 that went to vote averaged 25 percent support. For 2012, 46 proponents filed 38 proposals, and the 20 that went to vote averaged 24 percent. And in 2011, the AFSCME Employees Pension Plan filed six proposals and the five that went to vote averaged 24 percent. The proposals have led many companies to improve their lobbying disclosure, leading to settlements and improved disclosure at more than 35 companies.

Sixty-five investors joined in filing and co-filing the resolution seeking comprehensive disclosure of corporate lobbying. This initiative is coordinated and supported by AFSCME and Walden Asset Management, a division of Boston Trust & Investment Management Company.

Among companies receiving lobbying disclosure resolutions for 2015 are:

Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN)
Ameren (AEE)
American Express (AXP)
Apple (AAPL)
AT&T (T)
Bank of America (BAC)
BlackRock (BLK)
Boeing (BA)
Capital One Financial (COF)
Celgene (CELG)
CenterPoint Energy (CNP)
Charles Schwab Corporation (SCHW)
Cheniere Energy (LNG)
Chevron (CVX)
Citigroup -C-
Comcast (CMCSA)
ConocoPhillips (COP)
Devon Energy (DVN)
Dominion Resources (D)
DuPont (DD)
Eastman Chemical (EMN)
Emerson Electric (EMR)
Exelon (EXC)
Express Scripts (ESRX)
ExxonMobil Corporation (XOM)
Facebook (FB)
First Energy (FE)
GEO Group (GEO)
Goldman Sachs (GS)
Google (GOOG)
Home Depot (HD)
Honeywell (HON)
JPMorgan Chase (JPM)
Lockheed Martin (LMT)
Marathon Oil Company (MRO)
Marathon Petroleum (MPC)
MasterCard (MA)
Monsanto (MON)
Morgan Stanley (MS)
Motorola Solutions (MSI)
Philip Morris (PM)
Pinnacle West Capital (PNW)
Raytheon (RTN)
Spectra Energy (SE)
Time Warner Cable (TWC)
Tyson Foods (TSN)
United Parcel Service (UPS)
Valero Energy (VLO)
Wal-Mart (WMT)
Walt Disney Company (The)(DIS)
Wells Fargo & Company (WFC)

Filers of Lobbying Disclosure Resolutions Include:

Public Pension Funds
State of Connecticut Treasurer’s Office
New York State Common Retirement Fund
City of Philadelphia Public Employees Retirement System

Labor Pension Plans and Organizations
AFSCME Employees Pension Plan
CTW Investment Group
Le Fonds de Solidarité
UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust
United Steelworkers

Asset Management Companies
Domini Social Investments
First Affirmative Financial Network
Green Century Funds
Nelson Capital
Pax World Fund
Sonen Capital
Sustainability Group, Loring, Wolcott & Coolidge
Trillium Asset Management
Walden Asset Management
Zevin Asset Management

Brainerd Foundation
Center for Community Change
Edward W. Hazen Foundation
Haymarket People's Fund
Lemmon Foundation
Max and Anna Levinson Foundation
Merck Family Fund
Needmor Fund
New Economy Project
Oneida Tribe of Indians Trust Fund for the Elderly
Russell Family Foundation
Swift Foundation
Tides Foundation
Non-Profit Institutional Investors
As You Sow
Manhattan Country School

Religious Filers
Benedictine Sisters Charitable Trust, Boerne, TX
Benedictine Sisters of Baltimore – Emmanuel Monastery
Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica
Benedictine Sisters of Virginia
Community Church of New York
Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes
Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio
Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brighton
Convent Academy of the Incarnate Word
Everence Financial
First Parish in Cambridge – Unitarian Universalist
First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn
Friends Fiduciary Corporation
Glenmary Home Missioners
Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers
Mercy Investment Services
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate

Providence Trust
Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order
Sisters of Notre Dame
Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur-Boston
Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia
Sisters of the Holy Family, CA
Trinity Health
Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock
Unitarian Universalist Association
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

Bill Fleming
Gwendolen Noyes
Ronald Trimmer

[1] Kenneth Doyle, “Chamber Fights Back Against Pressure to Disclose Corporate Political Spending,” BNA, December 5, 2014.

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Statement on February Jobs Report: “Stagnant Wages Continue to Hold Middle-Class Families Back” Fri, 06 Mar 2015 13:15:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement in response to the February jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

“Today’s jobs report is an encouraging sign of our nation’s economic recovery. But it also highlights the sad fact that stagnant wages continue to hold middle-class families back. The best way for workers to advocate for fair wages, and more opportunity is by building a strong labor movement. We must ensure that America’s workers see the gains of a growing economy – not just corporations and billionaires.”

AFSCME’s Saunders: Poll Shows Americans See “Tsunami of a Retirement Crisis” Thanks to 401(k) Schemes Wed, 04 Mar 2015 17:06:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the study released this week by the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS):

According to the poll, 86 percent of respondents believe there is a retirement crisis in America, 85 percent believe all Americans should have access to a pension and 67 percent would be willing to accept smaller pay increases in exchange for guaranteed retirement income:

“Our nation is facing a tsunami of a retirement crisis and the American people can see it coming. It’s no accident that as Wall Street-backed politicians double down on their attacks on pensions, Americans’ fears about retirement security are higher than ever. For workers and families, the best path to economic peace of mind and a secure retirement has always been through a union.  

“Americans now see that 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts are the cause of, not the solution to, the retirement crisis. But recent decades have seen Wall Street brokers line their pockets with the crumbling 401(k)s workers thought they could count on in their golden years, while middle-class Americans retire into poverty in skyrocketing numbers. It’s clearer than ever that the nation needs more retirement security, not less — our nation cannot afford a continued race to the bottom.”

AFSCME President Lee Saunders' statement on the passing of longtime AFSCME Political Director Larry Scanlon Mon, 02 Mar 2015 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders released the following statement on the passing of longtime AFSCME Political Director Larry Scanlon:

We are heartbroken by the loss of Larry Scanlon, AFSCME's former political director, who was taken from us far too soon in a car accident Friday. Larry was an unparalleled member of the AFSCME family.

The ‘big dog’ of kindness and generosity. He viewed his work with AFSCME members not as a job, but as a calling. And he helped make AFSCME what it is today – a union with an uncompromising mission to give workers a voice.

Larry's passion, friendship, and mentorship will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Scanlon family.

AFSCME President Saunders: The Nation Deserves an Apology, Scott Walker Fri, 27 Feb 2015 13:43:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker comparing protesters to the terrorist group ISIS:

We’re not going to stand by and let Scott Walker smear hard-working Americans, simply because they exercise their first amendment freedom to disagree with him. You don’t attack good men and women who give their time every day to make this country a better place.

Public service workers have confronted terrorism. In the aftermath of September 11, they performed search and rescue operations and helped the devastated city recover. Halloveen Brightly, an AFSCME DC37 police communications specialist, stayed on the line with those who would never make it out of the towers. Patrick Bahnken of DC37 in New York City dug by hand for victims. Leonard Benjamin, a mortuary care technician from DC37, picked up the remains of the deceased at the World Trade Center. And Father Mychal Judge, an AFSCME member, arrived on scene as the towers burned, to provide aid and comfort to the injured, before falling victim himself.

To compare the 100,000 men and women who stood up in Madison and called Governor Walker out for his attack on workers’ freedom to terrorists is disgusting. That’s the desperate act of a craven, career politician, not a leader whose values are aligned with what this country stands for. In Madison, we marched alongside military veterans, firefighters, police officers, nurses, librarians and teachers. There were senior citizens and children. College students and clergy.

This cannot stand, Governor Walker, and the nation deserves an apology.

Paid Sick Leave: A Workplace Standard for the 21st Century Tue, 10 Feb 2015 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders and Sec.-Treas. Laura Reyes issued the following statements on the reintroduction of the Healthy Families Act:

“The idea of a family being able to live off a single income comfortably is a quaint notion from a bygone era. Today, in both married and single households, parents are working harder than ever to make ends meet. Paid sick leave is essential as families juggle multiple jobs. They need flexibility to care for their families without having to take time off and lose much-needed income,” said AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders.    

“Every worker should be able to take time off to recover from an illness or care for a sick child. It is unconscionable that 43 million private-sector workers are forced to risk losing a paycheck, or even a job entirely, because they don’t have paid sick days. It is long past time to make paid sick leave a national standard,” said AFSCME Sec.-Treas. Laura Reyes.

On behalf of AFSCME’s 1.6 million members, Saunders and Reyes called on Congress to act now and allow workers to earn up to seven days paid sick leave each year – a critical first step toward addressing the health and financial security of working families.

After 22 Years, FMLA Has Proven Value to Working Families Thu, 05 Feb 2015 08:00:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders and Sec.-Treas. Laura Reyes issued the following statements on the 22nd anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA):

“As was done with raising the minimum wage and protecting Social Security, unions led the fight for the right of all working Americans to take time off to care for a sick child or parent. In fact, the law has now been used more than 100 million times. That’s a lot of families in need who found solace in this law,” said AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders.

“FMLA is needed now more than ever, and we must keep pushing forward so that every working family in this country can benefit from the same protections. Sadly, only one-fifth of all new mothers are covered by FMLA, and it does not currently cover domestic partners or other family members like siblings. We should celebrate this law, but also look to expand it,” said AFSCME Sec.-Treas. Laura Reyes.

President Obama’s ‘Middle-Class Blueprint’ Would Benefit All Americans Mon, 02 Feb 2015 17:46:00 -0500 Contact: Cheryl Kelly, 202-429-1145                                                                   

Washington, DC ─ AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s budget:

“After years of misguided austerity dictated by Congress, the budget unveiled today by President Obama signals a major change of direction. This is a budget that uses federal policy to build the middle class and create opportunities for families who have been left out of the recovery. It makes good on the pledge the President made in his State of the Union to grow the middle class, fight income inequality, invest in education and end sequester cuts. 

“This budget is a middle-class blueprint for investing in economic recovery and job growth that benefits all Americans. AFSCME supports the President’s proposals to make critical investments to expand training for middle-class jobs, widen access to high-quality child care and early education including universal preschool, offer two years of free community college for responsible students, keep student loans manageable, and ensure access to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

“As our economy improves, opportunities must also improve for all working Americans. We applaud the President for building on his Executive Order to raise the minimum wage for individuals working under federal contracts and for calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage for all hardworking Americans. We also commend the President on his proposal to increase enforcement of laws that ensure workers receive the wages and overtime pay they earned, as well as the right to take job-protected paid leave for family and medical purposes.  

“We encourage Congress to work with the President to move our nation forward by passing this critical budget.”

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AFSCME Defies Odds in Organizing; Unions Needed Now More Than Ever Fri, 23 Jan 2015 13:16:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the Labor Department’s release of 2014 union membership statistics:

“At a time when too many Americans are struggling just to make ends meet, the Labor Department’s report reminds us today that we need to make it easier for working people to join together, form a union and negotiate for better wages and benefits.

“In the face of unprecedented challenges, AFSCME is organizing record numbers of public service workers. In 2014, more than 131,000 public workers joined AFSCME to have a voice on the job and fight for the vital public services our communities rely on.

“In the coming months, we know the anti-union politicians elected last November will continue their attacks on working people. They want a fast food economy in the public sector, but AFSCME is ready to fight back. We believe Americans who work hard and play by the rules deserve to be able to pay their bills, put food on the table, send their children to college and retire with dignity.”

Statement of AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on President Obama’s State of the Union Address Tue, 20 Jan 2015 17:08:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address:

“Tonight President Obama put forth a comprehensive plan filled with common sense solutions to strengthen the middle class and give Americans access to greater opportunity. We applaud his assertion that ‘To give working families a fair shot… we still need laws that strengthen rather than weaken unions and give American workers a voice.' Investing in community colleges, and expanding broadband access and paid sick leave are fundamental changes that will make our nation stronger as a whole.

“2014 brought the strongest job growth since the 1990s, however, that is only one piece of the puzzle. Stagnant middle class wages continue to drag families down. Workers need to be empowered to bargain for fair pay and secure benefits. Sadly, the nationwide attacks on collective bargaining persist, as deep-pocketed, anti-worker forces systematically target unions. Their efforts to undo collective bargaining weaken all workers.

“We hope that Congress will work with the President to take other steps to address the growing wage stagnation that hampers meaningful economic recovery in our country, and to send a clear message to the nation, that you can’t build a strong country by attacking workers.”

Martin Luther King Day is Opportunity to Renew His Dream for Justice Sat, 17 Jan 2015 12:25:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day:

“It was 47 years ago this year that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. went to Memphis to support AFSCME's sanitation workers in their struggle for a living wage, and for their right to join our union. It was there, after weeks of protests, that Dr. King was gunned down, a martyr to the cause of social and economic justice. Our members are forever grateful for his courage and his commitment, and he is a guiding spirit for our union.

“We celebrate the memory of Dr. King throughout the year, but the holiday in his honor is a special opportunity for us to rededicate ourselves to the struggle for civil and worker rights. Today, millions of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck – and some with no paycheck at all. And the growing gap between the rich and the rest of us threatens the extinction of the middle class. There is still much work to be done.

“As Dr. King said in 1961, ‘Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable ... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.’

“AFSCME will continue to fight for working families, for the women and men who work hard and play by the rules, for an economy that treats all of us fairly, and for a system of justice that treats us all with dignity and respect. These are goals that Dr. King pursued with vision and purpose, and we are committed to renew his dream with the same vigor.”

Obama’s Paid Sick Leave Initiative ‘Common Sense Solution’ Thu, 15 Jan 2015 20:52:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s proposal to offer paid sick leave for working Americans:

“AFSCME applauds President Obama’s plan for federal workers to use 6 weeks of advanced, paid sick leave to care for a newborn or adopted child, take care of sick family members or other sick leave needs, and his call for Congress to act so that all employers offer this benefit. Paid sick leave would help millions of families, reduce the high cost of health care and eliminate an unnecessary drag on our country’s economic recovery. It’s a common sense solution to a serious problem.

“Nobody on the workforce should have to worry about their livelihood in the event she or he, or a loved one, gets sick. AFSCME has long fought for paid sick leave to be a basic workers’ right in this country, as it is in other advanced nations.”

AFSCME’s President Lee Saunders: Federal Court Deals “Another Slap in the Face” to Hardworking Caregivers Thu, 15 Jan 2015 10:24:00 -0500 U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, a 2002 George W. Bush appointee, today denied overtime and minimum wage requirements to 2 million home health care workers – workers who care for the sick, frail and elderly in their homes. The decision comes on the heels of a June 2014 Supreme Court decision that denied home health care providers key union freedoms.

The overtime and minimum wage requirements for home care workers were proposed by the Obama administration in 2011. AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders had this to say:

“Not that we needed it, but Judge Leon’s decision denying overtime pay and a minimum wage to home health care workers is yet more proof that the deck is stacked against hardworking people.

“Home health care workers provide care for the sick, frail and elderly. All they ask in return is a fair shake – and a fair wage – for the work they do. Instead, they got a slap in the face from Judge Leon. It’s a reminder of how important it is for home care workers – and every American worker – to rediscover how to get organized and stand up for ourselves.”

Statement by Lee Saunders on the murders of two New York City Police Officers Sun, 21 Dec 2014 16:10:00 -0500

"The senseless, tragic murders of two New York City Police Officers are agonizing reminders that the hard-working men and women of law enforcement put their lives at risk every day to protect us. We mourn the loss of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu and pray for their families. These young men were killed by a madman whose hate and fury have caused profound harm to us all. We must not allow this terrible act to define us as a country in any way. We must resolve now to work together to strengthen the bonds between our communities and our police."


Statement of AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Concerning Passage of the Omnibus Spending Bill Fri, 12 Dec 2014 17:43:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the passage of the omnibus spending bill to fund the government:

“There is little to celebrate in the omnibus, except that it provides budget certainty for the next nine months for most federal agencies and the state and local governments that carry out many federal programs and funding for Ebola.
“Provisions that weaken Dodd-Frank and that increase the political contributions of the wealthiest are deeply troubling.  They demonstrate that the loudest voice in policy making is that of the wealthy and well-connected and that their influence is allowed to grow at the expense of working families.
“In the closing days of the 113th Congress, the omnibus was a missed opportunity to adequately fund the critical services Americans count on and the investments that our economy desperately needs to thrive.”
Statement of AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Grand Jury Decision in the Shooting Death of Michael Brown Tue, 25 Nov 2014 12:23:00 -0500 Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, issued the following statement on the Missouri grand jury’s decision not to issue an indictment in the shooting death of Michael Brown:

“There is a lot of anger, pain and sadness in Ferguson and across our nation today. As parents, we grieve with the family of Michael Brown and echo their calls for restraint and protection for peaceful protesters.

“The tragic death of Michael Brown and the grand jury’s decision once again reminds us that there remains much work to be done in creating a justice system that is truly color blind.

“Racial and economic justice are inextricably linked. In order to achieve both, AFSCME will continue to fight for good jobs, quality public education, safe streets – and all that creates strong communities and provides people with real economic opportunities and a shot at the American Dream.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders’ Statement on President Obama’s Executive Order on Immigration Thu, 20 Nov 2014 17:52:00 -0500 Washington, DC — AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement in support of President Obama’s Executive Order on Immigration:

“President Obama took executive action because extremists in Congress failed to do their jobs. They have done nothing to fix our country’s broken immigration system, a system that keeps millions of women and men trapped in a shadow economy that hurts all working families. President Obama’s executive action curtails abusive employers who exploit undocumented immigrants and in doing so, drive down wages and benefits of all of our country’s workers.

“There is nothing unprecedented about what President Obama has done. Former presidents, including four Republicans (Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, George H.W. Bush) used their executive powers to shape immigration policy.    

“Extremists in Congress spent the past 18 months leading a race to the bottom with their politics of fear. Enough. It’s time for them to be honest with the American people about the economic harm that comes to all working families when undocumented immigrants are forced to live and work in the shadows. It’s time to put an end to the shameful, pointless suffering caused by their inability to devise a comprehensive, legislative solution. And it’s way past time for them to start earning their pay upholding our country’s values.”

Funding a Must for Response to Public Health Emergencies Wed, 12 Nov 2014 14:54:13 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement in support of the administration’s request for emergency funding to respond to the Ebola crisis.

“AFSCME urges Congress to support the President’s emergency funding request of $6.18 billion to fight Ebola abroad and respond to it here at home.

“We’ve already seen that our public health system is not prepared for the challenge of Ebola or any public health crisis – as demonstrated by the outbreak of H1N1 and avian flu. The sequester and other recent cuts in funding to state and local governments caused our weak public health infrastructure to crumble further.

“Protecting the workers who will be on the front lines of this fight must be a top priority.  Health and safety standards and CDC guidelines must be followed and enforced.  Protective equipment must be available and all workers who may be exposed – including doctors and nurses, paramedics, lab technicians and custodians – must be trained to reduce their risk of infection. 

“Congress should step up and ensure that we can meet the Ebola challenge, as President Obama proposed.”

AFSCME Statement on DOL Announcement re: Overtime Protections For Home Care Workers Tue, 07 Oct 2014 00:00:00 -0500 Contact: Erick Sanchez, 202-429-5074

WASHINGTON, DC –AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement in response to the Department of Labor’s announcement concerning the implementation of the overtime rule for home care workers:

“We support the administration’s continuing commitment to implementation of overtime protections for home care workers as scheduled. Home care workers finally will be afforded the same overtime protections as the rest of the U.S. workforce beginning Jan 1, 2015. 

“Home care workers, many of whom are female, single heads-of-households and earn barely above the minimum wage, deserve the overtime protections that have existed for most of the American workforce for nearly 80 years. The disabled and elderly clients they serve deserve the quality services made possible by a stable and secure workforce.

“States and other employers have been on notice for more than a year that minimum wage and overtime protections would be extended to home care workers. Although some states continue to claim that they are unprepared to make the administrative changes to facilitate this basic protection, they should be able to fully comply in short order and the DOL has indicated it will assist them with implementation. Fortunately, states employing the vast majority of home care workers have indicated they will begin applying the overtime and minimum wage rule on January 1. 

“We call on all states to act responsibly in order to extend the protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to home care workers as quickly as possible.” 


AFSCME's 1.6 million members provide the vital services that make America happen. With members in hundreds of different occupations — from nurses to corrections officers, child care providers to sanitation workers — AFSCME advocates for fairness in the workplace, excellence in public services and prosperity and opportunity for all working families.

Stop Corporate Inversion: Restore Economic Patriotism Tue, 23 Sep 2014 17:06:50 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement in response to the Administration’s efforts to limit corporate inversions.

“If companies want the benefits of being an American company, they must pay their fair share of taxes here. This is what’s fair and it’s what the American people expect.

“Today, the Administration took much-needed action to limit corporate tax inversions. This is an important first step, but more needs to be done to restore our economic patriotism and stop U.S. companies from taking refuge in other countries to avoid paying their fair share.

“We can no longer allow corporate tax dodgers to unfairly burden taxpayers, small businesses and hardworking Americans. We look forward to further needed action by the U.S. Department of Treasury. Congress has to act now to stop this new craze in corporate tax dodging and pass solid legislation to eliminate corporate tax loopholes.”

Public Service Union Champions Higher Education Mon, 22 Sep 2014 12:40:00 -0500 The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO, the nation's largest  public services employees 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 President 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 & CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.  "The increased cost of college, along with stricter grant and loan payments, make gifts like this more important, and demonstrates AFSCME's 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 has 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 have 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 and sanitation workers and countless others who work for cities, counties, states, the federal government and universities, non-profit agencies and private companies. 

TMCF is named for the U.S. Supreme Court's first African-American Justice. Established in 1987, TMCF supports and represents nearly 300,000 students attending its 47 member-schools that include public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), medical schools and law schools. Through its scholarships and programs, TMCF plays a key role in preparing the leaders of tomorrow. Visit TMCF at

AFSCME Stands in Solidarity with Ferguson Community Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:35:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement in regards to the situation in Ferguson, Missouri:

“The thoughts and prayers of our union, AFSCME, are with the family of Michael Brown. As parents, as community members, and as members of a union that works each day for economic and social justice, our hearts go out to them.

“Our union stands in solidarity with the entire Ferguson community. And we stand with our labor and faith allies to urge a peaceful resolution to this tragic situation.”

An Increase in the Minimum Wage Is Long Past Due Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:43:42 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement marking the fifth anniversary of the last federal minimum wage increase and urging Congress to pass a long-overdue additional increase:

“It has been seven years since Congress passed a minimum wage increase and five long years since that increase, to $7.25, went into effect. Today, that minimum is well below what hardworking Americans need to get by, and what our economy needs to get moving again.

“The last minimum wage adjustment occurred as our nation struggled with a crippling recession and our communities were hit with home foreclosures because of predatory loans. While that toxic economic climate is beginning to lift, too many families are having difficulty making ends meet.

“Last year, impatient for Congress to act, 13 states took it upon themselves to raise their minimum wages because they understood that the current wage does not work for middle-class families and their overall economies. Today, we repeat the call for Congress to pass legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 by 2015.

“Each member of Congress could receive a $2,800 cost-of-living increase in January 2015, and it’s only right that they should vote to give those earning the minimum wage this small increase.”

The Affordable Care Act ‘Will Continue to Help Families’ Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:11:05 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement today on the D.C. Court of Appeals ruling in Halbig v. Burwell, which challenges tax credits for people who purchased insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act through the federal health marketplace.

“The ruling in Halbig v. Burwell does not change the fact that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is working to provide more Americans with health care they can afford. 

“The number of uninsured adults and young adults has fallen sharply. Millions of Americans are no longer at the mercy of insurance companies, thanks to protections in the Affordable Care Act that stop denials of coverage based on pre-existing conditions. 

“The ruling in Halbig v. Burwell will not prevail. The ACA will continue to help families to achieve economic security through the availability of tax credits to purchase the coverage they need.

“Direct and indirect efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act are misguided and will not stand the test of time.”