Press Release Feed Press Releases Tue, 3 May 2011 05:00:00 +0000 AMPS en hourly 1 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.”

Home Care, Child Care Providers Resolute in Face of Supreme Court Decision Mon, 30 Jun 2014 14:10:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders said home care and child care workers will continue to stand up for quality care in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in Harris v. Quinn today.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision does not dampen the resolve of home care workers and child care providers to come together to have a strong voice for good jobs and to give care to millions of seniors, people with disabilities and children,” said AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders.

The ruling places at risk a system of consumer-directed home care that has proved successful in raising wages, providing affordable care and increasing training. The number of elderly Americans will increase dramatically in the coming years.

Child care workers make it possible for working parents to support their families without the agony of trying to juggle their jobs and their kids. States need to build a stable, qualified workforce to meet the growing need for home care and child care – and having a strong union for care providers is the approach that has proven most effective.

Today’s ruling did not hand anti-worker extremists the victory they’d been hoping for because the Court did not revoke collective bargaining rights for public service workers or care providers. It did not eliminate existing contracts.

“That would have been a fundamental gutting of the American Dream,” Saunders said. “But make no mistake – Justice Alito’s opinion made clear that the relentless assault on workers’ rights will not abate.”

As always, AFSCME members nationwide will remain steadfast and fight for the simple rights and dignity that every working American deserves. A court ruling doesn’t change our obligation as proud union workers and it doesn’t negate our obligation to keep fighting to restore the American middle class.

AFSCME Stands in Solidarity with Edward Lane Thu, 19 Jun 2014 15:49:57 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued this statement following the Supreme Court ruling in Lane v. Franks.

“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is a victory for free speech by public employees.  Edward Lane deserved to be rewarded, not fired, for speaking the truth and putting students first.  All too often it is the everyday heroes like teachers, first responders and other public service workers who must speak up on behalf of their students and communities, and they should not be punished but rather protected by the law.

“But we are disappointed that the Court’s decision did not go far enough and establish a clear rule that sworn testimony by public employees should never be the basis for any retaliatory action by a public employer. Those in the public service should not have to worry about losing their jobs when they are witnesses before a court, a key part of our democracy.

“AFSCME stands in solidarity with Edward Lane, and will continue to seek real solutions to protect the constitutional rights of all public service workers.”

AFSCME Stands with Teachers in Vergara v. California Wed, 11 Jun 2014 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued this statement following the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s decision in Vergara v. California.

“The decision rendered yesterday by a Superior Court judge in Vergara v. California threatens to punish and silence hundreds of thousands of dedicated public school teachers who work day in and day out to help students achieve their potential. This ruling unnecessarily pits teachers against students, while ignoring what really prevents students from receiving a quality education: unfair and unequal funding, damaging segregation and high rates of poverty.

“No one should tolerate bad teachers in the classroom. There is no argument about that. But hard-working professionals, who devoted their careers to their students, should not be unfairly stripped of their rights and job security on a judicial whim.

“This fight isn’t over. AFSCME stands in solidarity with proud educators nationwide as they seek real solutions to the challenges facing students in our nation’s public schools.”

AFSCME Lauds Representative Lynch’s Bill Establishing National EMS Memorial, Urges Swift Passage Tue, 27 May 2014 17:53:34 -0500 “Emergency medical services (EMS) personnel are often our nation’s first line of defense in public safety emergencies such as terrorist attacks, natural and man-made disasters and medical crises. These dedicated women and men put their lives on the line every day to provide critical care to their patients and the public. Tragically, more than 600 EMS workers gave their lives while serving the public and doing their job.

I want to thank Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) for introducing this important legislation and urge Congress to pass H.R. 4690 without delay. As the fastest growing union for EMS workers, AFSCME is proud of the 23,000 EMS personnel we represent, and we will work to pass this legislation to ensure those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and their families and loved ones are properly recognized.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on National Police Week Thu, 15 May 2014 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement in honor of National Police Week:

“In 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15 falls as National Police Week. This week, tens of thousands of police officers from across our country will come to Washington, DC, to remember and honor their sisters and brothers who fell in the line of duty.

In 2013, 111 federal, state and local police officers were killed while performing their jobs. We remember State Troopers Tage Toll, Scott Johnson, and Gabe Rich, members of Public Safety Employee Employees Association/AFSCME Local 803 in Alaska. Trooper Toll passed away in March 2013, and Troopers Johnson and Rich passed away earlier this month.

“Law enforcement officers work hard to keep our families and communities safe. AFSCME has represented law enforcement officers since 1945. Today we represent more than 100,000 public safety personnel and we are proud of the difficult work they do, often under dangerous conditions, walking their beats and patrolling our communities. This week, we join law enforcement officers nationwide in paying tribute to those who lost their lives in the line of duty, and we thank them as well for risking all every day to keep us safe.

“AFSCME is proud to support the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum Foundation in recognition of the ultimate sacrifice many law enforcement officers made. Trooper Toll will be added to the memorial this year, and Troopers Johnson and Rich will be added next year.”

Statement of AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders: Congress Must Guarantee the Right to Vote Thu, 15 May 2014 10:17:16 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement today urging Congress to take action on the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 (H.R. 3899).

“James Chaney, Medgar Evers, Viola Liuzzo, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner aren’t household names, but these activists stood at the forefront in the fight for voting rights and they gave their lives so that others could participate in the political process. Today, we remember their tireless work and demand justice at the ballot box for all Americans in their names.

“Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that ensured all Americans had access to the ballot box free of past racial restrictions. It is imperative that Congress take action to repair the damage that has been done to the most important piece of civil rights legislation in modern history by supporting the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 (H.R. 3899). I urge immediate action by the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The Voting Rights Amendment Act is a first step toward ensuring that all citizens can exercise their right to vote.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Public Service Recognition Week Tue, 06 May 2014 16:19:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders made the following statement regarding Public Service Recognition Week, May 4-10:

“This week, we honor our 1.6 million sisters and brothers and all public sector workers who serve our nation as federal, state, county and local government employees, providing the services that make our communities work. They are the nurses, librarians, law enforcement & corrections officers, child care providers, EMTs, sanitation workers, hospital workers, social workers, zoo keepers and many more who prove every day the value of a vibrant public sector.

“Unfortunately, these men and women have been the targets of extremists who disregard and minimize the contributions of public service workers and the attacks come at a high price. Public service workers enhance the quality of life in our country – without them, our neighborhoods are less safe and families have less access to vital services during difficult economic times.  From protecting our children to paving our roads to being the first to rush to a disaster, public service workers form the government all citizens rely on.

“We must all honor the work of our sisters and brothers by standing united in the struggle for quality public services.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Corrections Officers and Employees Week Sun, 04 May 2014 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders made the following statement for Corrections Officers and Employees Week, which starts May 4 and runs until May 10:

“Corrections officers and employees have some of the most dangerous jobs in the country. Without them, our communities would be less safe and our prison system would be in jeopardy. During National Corrections Officers and Employees Week, we remember the extraordinary services provided to us by our 85,000 sisters and brothers in AFSCME Corrections United and by officers and employees everywhere. These women and men work hard in both maximum and minimum-security facilities, state prisons and county jails.

“We will always honor the sacrifices corrections employees make on our behalf by standing with them in their struggle, which is also ours. We will continue to oppose prison privatization and support our members’ calls for safety and dignity on the job, not only to ensure public safety, but also because it’s the right thing to do by our communities and our members.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on May Day Thu, 01 May 2014 10:55:32 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders made the following statement on May Day:

“Every year, working people around the world come together to commemorate May Day and celebrate workers’ contributions to our communities. Today, we are united with the simple message that workers’ rights should be universally acknowledged and that every person deserves the opportunity to achieve a better life for themselves and their families.

“This nation was built by hardworking people and thrives on the labor of such workers today, including the 1.6 million members of AFSCME. At a time in the life of our country when achievement of the American Dream eludes too many families, when students graduate from college with mountains of debt, when retirement security seems certain for only a privileged few who have been fortunate enough to inherit massive wealth, workers from all walks of life must stand together today and every day to demand fairness and opportunity.  Unions have always been a vehicle, helping to create a strong middle class for working families.  This is why we urge Congress to act quickly to pass comprehensive immigration reform and raise the minimum wage. This is why we continue to call attention to the economic inequality that threatens the extinction of our middle class. This is why we fight so hard for policies that help level the playing field.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Statement on HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Fri, 11 Apr 2014 15:48:14 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on Kathleen Sebelius’ leadership as Secretary of Health and Human Services:

“Secretary Sebelius’ legacy is the more than 10 million Americans who now have quality, affordable health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Millions more have improved coverage, including seniors who can now access free, preventive services and lower prescription drug costs through their Medicare coverage. Secretary Sebelius worked to put Medicare on even firmer financial footing, rooting out fraud and waste, and prioritizing unprecedented transparency. She tirelessly worked to ensure that women can access essential reproductive health care.

“Throughout her tenure, Secretary Sebelius faced enormous obstacles from those who do not share our belief that quality health care for all is a right. She served her country admirably, and AFSCME wishes her the best in her upcoming endeavors.”

AFSCME President Blasts House Approval of Budget for Wealthy Thu, 10 Apr 2014 15:11:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders released the following statement following the House approval of the budget drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan:

“Yet again, the House GOP has voted for a budget proposal that hurts families, kills jobs and would send the economy back into a tailspin. Only corporations and the wealthy benefit from its wide-open tax loopholes and additional tax breaks.

“The Ryan budget once again calls for replacing Medicare with a voucher, shifting costs to already struggling seniors and putting profit-motivated insurance company executives in charge of their health care decisions. The budget slashes Medicaid, forcing states to cut health care services for the poor, elderly and people with disabilities. It repeals the Affordable Care Act, eliminating health care for more than 10 million people. It cuts domestic spending, devastating public services provided by federal, state and local governments.

“The party-line vote for this budget underscores that House Republicans are motivated by an obsession with cutting crucial government services upon which our communities rely, and boosting the bank accounts of billionaires. They are out of touch with the pressing needs and values of most Americans.”

Our Mothers, Wives and Daughters Deserve Equal Pay for Equal Work Tue, 08 Apr 2014 10:32:01 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement today acknowledging Equal Pay Day. The day that marks the end of the extra period of time that women in the U.S. must work in order to earn what men earned during the previous year:

“Many people probably don’t know why we celebrate Equal Pay Day. Today marks the number of extra days women need to work to earn what men earned during the previous year. So U.S. women must work until April 8 this year to earn what men made as of Dec. 31 last year. This is unacceptable. Our mothers, wives and daughters deserve equal pay for equal work. Fifty years after the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and five years after the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Act, it is unconscionable that in 2014 equal pay is still up for debate. 

“Equal pay is not just a women’s issue ─ it’s a family issue. Women make up almost half of our workforce, yet they are paid 77 percent of what men are paid, and the pay gap is worse for women of color. A majority of women in the workforce are mothers and one-third are the sole breadwinners for their families. Their incomes are critical to making ends meet.

“When women working full time earn 23 percent less than men over a lifetime, their retirement security is jeopardized.  The pay gap limits a woman’s ability to contribute to her retirement income, including Social Security.

“When women receive equal pay for equal work our families, communities are on stronger economic footing.”

AFSCME Applauds Senate Approval of Jobless Aid and Calls on House to Act Without Delay Mon, 07 Apr 2014 19:30:19 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement today on the Senate’s approval of jobless aid to millions of Americans.

“Earlier today, the Senate passed long-overdue legislation to restore emergency unemployment insurance to more than 2 million Americans. While we applaud the bipartisan work that made today’s passage possible, this is a program that never should have been allowed to expire. Millions of Americans and their families depend on these benefits to put food on the table and keep the lights on while they continue to find stable work with a living wage. It’s a shame that political obstruction in the U.S. Senate held up this vital aid for more than three months.

“AFSCME calls on House leadership to bring this legislation to the floor for an immediate vote and passage before the upcoming congressional recess at the end of this week.” 

“The dream lives on when we take a stand against injustice.” Fri, 04 Apr 2014 10:26:45 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the anniversary of the 1968 AFSCME Sanitation Strike in Memphis and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. Dr. King was in Memphis in solidarity with 1,300 striking AFSCME sanitation workers. Workers like Joe Warren, Taylor Rogers, Alvin Turner, Ben Jones, Rev. Cleo Smith, Baxter Leach and countless others who were denied their rights as city employees and their dignity as men.

“Working for $1.80 cents an hour under the most inhumane conditions, these men suffered grave indignity as they put in a 60-hour work week for 40 hours of pay. Their defining moment came with their declaration “I Am A Man” – held aloft on signs – as they took to the streets of Memphis on Feb. 11, 1968, to protest decades of discrimination, disrespect and dangerous working conditions.

 “We now face a defining moment. With income inequality plaguing this nation, and a shot at the American Dream disappearing for many, the struggle continues today as it did in 1968.  Today, we honor  Dr. King by re-dedicating ourselves to the struggle for economic justice and equal opportunity  for all.”

AFSCME's Saunders: "Supreme Court Ruling is a Step Backwards" Wed, 02 Apr 2014 18:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders released the following statement after the Supreme Court issued their ruling on McCutcheon v. FEC:

“Instead of moving us forward to a place where electoral politics truly levels the playing field, today’s Supreme Court ruling mires us even deeper in the mud of big money campaigns and weakens public confidence in the campaign finance system.

“At a time when the Koch brothers and their ilk have already taken unfair advantage of ‘dark money’ politics, today’s ruling confirms the worst fears of millions of Americans. They deeply believe in our democracy but their checkbooks are no match for the deep pockets of those who want to gain even more power and wealth at the expense of working people.     

“It is up to us to pull together, educate, mobilize, and energize the millions of like-minded Americans and send a message in the streets and at the ballot box that our country’s values are not for sale.”