Press Release Feed Press Releases Tue, 3 May 2011 05:00:00 +0000 AMPS en hourly 1 AFSCME President Lee Saunders on Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García-Padilla’s Fiscal Plan Fri, 14 Oct 2016 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the fiscal plan released by Puerto Rico Gov. García-Padilla:

“The people of Puerto Rico are facing immense challenges as they enter into a second decade of economic decline. Yet, much like the experience in the rest of the U.S., the financial hardships in Puerto Rico are not experienced equally. Wealthy investors, from the island- and mainland-based financial services industry, are not only shielded from the hardships, but have actually benefited from them. Sophisticated financiers knew exactly what they were doing as they sought to exploit Puerto Rico’s struggles to maintain services for its residents.

“Although we do not agree with every aspect of Gov. Alejandro García-Padilla’s plan, when it comes to debt service, we think he gets the broad strokes exactly right. The captains of Wall Street, and especially the monoline insurance companies, sought to profit handsomely at the expense of Puerto Rico families. They justified their profit-taking on the basis of bearing risk. As the investors knew when they demanded extraordinary returns on their investment, Puerto Rico does not have the financial capacity to pay the excessive profits without creating horrific deprivation for its residents. 

“Governor García’s plan for creditors is the proper starting point for achieving fiscal balance. Much more work, however, remains to be done to bring about the economic growth necessary to sustain the working families of Puerto Rico. Maintaining labor standards, avoiding further reductions in critical services and offering Medicaid financing, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Childcare Tax Credit to Puerto Ricans on the same basis as states must be a top priority.”

As Trump Skipped Out on Taxes, Americans May Have Paid Price in Education, Health and Safety Tue, 04 Oct 2016 10:55:00 -0500 On Saturday, October 1, The New York Times revealed that Donald Trump may have avoided paying federal income taxes for 18 years because the self-described successful businessman lost nearly $1 billion in 1995.

While individual income taxes are not earmarked for a specific program or budgetary line item, a new analysis from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) lays out how massive an impact Trump’s refusal to pay his taxes could have had on public services, breaking down how his federal tax contributions could have impacted Head Start education and public service workers who protect public health and safety.

According to Trump’s financial disclosure with the FEC, he received at least $380 million in income in 2014. Assuming Trump paid federal income tax on the same basis as a typical taxpayer who does not itemize, but applies the personal exemption to his income, he would owe $150 million in federal taxes that year.

Trump tax chart

In addition, he would owe 8.82 percent in New York State taxes, or $33.5 million, and an additional 3.87 percent in New York City taxes, or $14.7 million.

While individual income taxes are not earmarked for a specific program or budgetary line item, the below examples are meant to illustrate how Donald Trump skipping out on his taxes denied Americans vital public services that protect public health and safety.

These are estimates based on the best available evidence. The only way to know the real cost to American taxpayers is for Donald Trump to release his tax returns.

  • Veterans’ health. The average salary of a Veterans Affairs registered nurse is approximately $75,000 or $100,000 with benefits and leave. If Trump paid his taxes without special breaks, his federal taxes would be sufficient to pay 1,500 VA nurses.

    With 168 VA Medical Centers, this averages out to nine nurses at each, including centers in Ohio (Chillicothe, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Dayton); Pennsylvania (Altoona, Coatesville, Erie, Lebanon, Philadelphia and Wilkes Barre); and Florida (Tampa, Lake City, Gainesville, Miami, Orlando and West Palm Beach). In addition, there are also nearly 1,000 outpatient clinics and ambulatory care centers.

  • Body armor. Relatedly, if Trump paid his taxes, 363,000 soldiers could have their body armor upgraded to the latest generation of equipment.

  • Head Start. Donald Trump’s alleged refusal to pay his federal income taxes could have denied opportunities for 20,212 Ohio kids to attend Head Start for one year. Similarly, it could have denied Head Start opportunities for 20,325 children in Pennsylvania or 17,718 in Florida.

  • Infrastructure. The average salary of a state and local Department of Transportation worker is $65,000 with benefits and leave. Federal funds typically pay about half of the compensation of state and local transportation agency personnel who work on federal highways. If Trump paid his taxes without special breaks, his federal taxes would be sufficient to pay 2,300 highway maintenance workers.

  • FBI agents. Agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation on average earn $63,595 with total compensation around $85,000. If Trump had paid his taxes, the FBI could have hired an additional 1,765 agents to keep America safe from crime and terrorism.

  • New York City police. New York City police earn $76,488 at the senior level with total compensation costs of $90,829, on average. If Trump paid his city taxes at the full rate, 161 senior officers would be funded to keep New York’s citizens and landmarks safe.

As noted above, individual income taxes are not designated entirely to specific programs or budgetary line items. The above analysis only serves to show how massive an impact Donald Trump’s refusal to pay federal taxes could have on specific areas of health and safety.

The only way to know the true public impact on the American people is for Donald Trump to release his tax returns.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders on the Report that Donald Trump Avoided Paying Taxes for Decades Sun, 02 Oct 2016 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the report that Donald Trump may have avoided paying taxes for nearly two decades:

“Too often we are told that cutting vital public services is the only way to balance budgets. The truth is, we can make our communities safer, healthier, and stronger than ever if we close loopholes and force scam artists like Donald Trump to pay his taxes just like everyone else.”

More than 6,000 CA Public Service Workers Vote to Unite with AFSCME Mon, 26 Sep 2016 23:30:00 -0500 Six thousand public service workers represented by Public Employees Union (PEU), Local 1 voted Monday to unite with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)—one of the nation’s largest public service worker unions. The affiliation will give public workers across eight Northern California counties a stronger voice to improve the vital services they provide their communities every day.

Local 1 President Mike West, a Printing Services Coordinator at Los Medanos Community College, said that he and his coworkers are excited to become part of a larger movement that is fighting to defend families and neighborhoods across the country.

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

Every day, public service workers make their communities better, providing everything from education to clean water. PEU Local 1 represents more than 6,000 public service workers in the region, including workers for cities, counties, community colleges, school districts, libraries, courts, Head Start and special districts that provide clean water and other services.   

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

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

More than 163,000 workers across California and 1.6 million nationwide stand together in AFSCME—the fastest growing public service worker union.

“I’m honored to welcome Local 1 members into the AFSCME family,” said AFSCME International President Lee Saunders. “When public service workers come together, big things happen. Neighborhoods thrive and America is stronger. That’s what this affiliation is about, and we look forward to building a better future for working families across Northern California.”

AFSCME President Lee Saunders on the Continuing Resolution Fri, 23 Sep 2016 17:22:09 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the congressional debate over the continuing resolution:

“The lead tragedy in Flint has been compounded by the failure of Congress to address it. The people of Flint, and especially the children of Flint, have waited months and months for action, but have been met with stonewalling and silence. It is imperative that Congress provide relief for Flint in the continuing resolution.”

Judith Rivlin Named AFSCME General Counsel Wed, 14 Sep 2016 13:34:00 -0500 The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) today announced the appointment of Judith Rivlin as General Counsel. Rivlin has served as the Deputy General Counsel for the 1.6 million member public service worker union since 2014, and the promotion comes following the AFSCME International Executive Board’s confirmation of former General Counsel Bill Lurye as the union’s new Chief of Staff/Counsel.

Judy Rivlin has spent her entire legal career as a labor lawyer. She has served the federal government in positions at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Her career in the labor movement includes serving as House Counsel to the Sheet Metal Workers International Union, and then as Associate General Counsel to the United Mine Workers, where she specialized in miners’ health and safety issues. Rivlin also is an experienced mediator, volunteering as a court-appointed mediator through the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. She has expertise in a wide range of issues arising in both private and public-sector labor-management relations, as well as internal union affairs. 

In addition to her legal career in the labor movement, Rivlin has been active as union member and official — as a steward for the American Federation of Government Employees, and as president of the NLRB lawyer’s union. Since joining AFSCME, she has particularly enjoyed working with affiliates on the AFSCME Strong program, a long-term internal organizing effort which has yielded more than 300,000 new members throughout the country. Rivlin will officially begin her new role of General Counsel later this month.

Bill Lurye Named AFSCME Chief of Staff Wed, 14 Sep 2016 13:08:00 -0500 The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) today announced the appointment of Bill Lurye as Chief of Staff/Counsel for the 1.6 million member public service worker union. The appointment was confirmed by AFSCME’s International Executive Board on Wednesday, September 14, and Lurye will officially begin the new role later this month.

As AFSCME’s General Counsel, Lurye helped lead the union’s response to unprecedented attacks on working people through the courts, including the Friedrichs v. CTA case which threatened to silence the voices of millions of nurses, teachers and first responders throughout the country.

“Bill has played a critical role to help our union weather the storm of attacks over the past several years,” said Saunders. “He has time and again proved himself to be one of the finest strategists in the labor movement, and as Chief of Staff/Counsel, he will continue to help AFSCME grow and build power for working families and our communities.”

Prior to joining AFSCME, Lurye was an associate general counsel at the AFL-CIO, and was in private practice in New Orleans for many years, representing unions and employees, as well as pension trust funds. He is a College of Labor and Employment Lawyers fellow and serves on the American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Law leadership council.

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Donald Trump’s Visit to Detroit Sat, 03 Sep 2016 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the Donald Trump’s campaign visit to Detroit:

“This Labor Day weekend, let's be perfectly clear on the reasons why Donald Trump does not have the support of union members. He supports so-called right-to-work laws that make it harder to negotiate better wages, better benefits and a secure retirement, and result in lower wages for all working families. Trump has even bragged about preventing his employees from unionizing.

“As he visits Detroit today, let's also take a moment to remember when Trump not only said that the American auto industry should have been left for dead, but encouraged auto makers to relocate their Michigan and Ohio plants to right-to-work states, so they could pay their workers less.

“We could go on and on - from his record of labor law violations, to his habit of outsourcing jobs overseas, he simply does not support working people. But you don't just have to take our word for it. Check out what Trump has to say about unions, in his own words:”

Link to video:

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on the Obama Administration’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order Wed, 24 Aug 2016 13:09:06 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the Obama administration’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order:

"AFSCME applauds the Obama administration's Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order and fully supports the regulations required to implement it. Requiring companies seeking to obtain federal contracts to disclose prior wage, civil rights and safety violations is a win-win for taxpayers and workers who too often are denied the wages they are owed and are injured or even killed on the job. Taxpayers deserve to know that the federal government is putting in place mechanisms that improve contract performance and fairness.

"These new regulations promote much-needed transparency and help ensure that employees, including thousands of hardworking AFSCME members who deliver vital public services, receive the protection against wage theft, discrimination and workplace hazards they deserve. AFSCME opposes the ongoing efforts of right-wing members of Congress to block these much-needed common sense regulations. Companies who play by the rules and comply with the law have nothing to fear from these regulations. Indeed, they should stand with us as we build an economy that is fair for all. These regulations are both smart and the right thing to do."

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Justice Department Ending Use of Private Prisons Thu, 18 Aug 2016 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision to end their use of private prisons:

“Whether at the federal or state and local level, private prison operations have long been a stain on our nation’s criminal justice system. Compared to publically run correctional facilities, private prisons provide a fraction of the safety and rehabilitation our communities should expect. They have not kept us secure, nor have they delivered savings to the taxpayers – instead, corporate prisons have profited off of the suffering of our communities and have led the way to mass incarceration and the immoral detention of immigrant families in privately operated facilities that just this week were revealed in reports to be wasting taxpayer money.

“Today’s announcement reinforces what we have long asserted: The dedicated women and men working in our nation’s federal, state and local public prisons keep our communities safe, day in and day out, and they do it more cost effectively than at prisons operated for profit by private corporations. Private prisons are a failed experiment. We whole-heartedly applaud the Justice Department’s decision to end their use and call on state and local governments, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, to follow the federal government’s lead on this decision.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Hillary Clinton’s Selection of Tim Kaine for VP Fri, 22 Jul 2016 22:12:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on Hillary Clinton’s selection of Tim Kaine as her running mate:

“If you need further proof of what sets Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump apart in this election, look no further than their choice of running mates. While Mike Pence is an extremist who gave Indiana’s skilled workers a pay cut and attacked the retirement security of nurses, teachers and firefighters, Tim Kaine has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with working people on the issues that affect our families.

“As Governor, Tim Kaine supported working people by creating good jobs through critical infrastructure investments. Like Secretary Clinton, Senator Kaine also stands with public service workers on critical issues facing our families and communities such as protecting Social Security, raising the minimum wage, easing the burden of student loan debt, and closing corporate tax loopholes and making the wealthiest pay their fair share.

“Hillary Clinton’s choice of a running mate is just more proof for working people that she has our backs, and she will be the champion our families need in the White House.”

AFSCME President Lee Saunders Wins Reelection by Acclamation Tue, 19 Jul 2016 15:59:00 -0500 Today, member delegates attending the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) 42nd International Convention reelected Lee Saunders as International President by acclamation. First elected to AFSCME’s top position in 2012, Saunders will serve another four-year term.

Saunders has presided over a period of unity, innovation and growth, despite unprecedented attacks on public service workers and the unions that represent them. In his first years as president, Saunders fostered a culture shift at AFSCME, returning AFSCME to its organizing roots. A new program, AFSCME Strong, has reinvigorated the union, making it a more effective advocate for public service workers and all working people.

“America’s public service workers never quit on their communities,” Saunders said. “They are up before sunrise to make sure buses, roads and bridges are safe for children going to school. They are still at work at midnight, staffing hospitals and responding to 911 emergencies. They do their jobs with passion and pride. They deserve good wages and benefits, professional development and retirement security, and most of all, recognition and respect.”

With a renewed focus on organizing, AFSCME has added new members, trained thousands of new activists and strengthened the bond between members and their union. Since 2013, nearly 340,000 fee-payers and nonmembers have signed up with AFSCME, including nearly 63,000 new members in so-called “right-to-work” states like Iowa, Florida and Texas. The union’s voluntary political action committee, PEOPLE, has broken records, both in terms of dollars raised and the number of members contributing.

“I am honored by the confidence AFSCME members have placed in me, and I look forward to building on the success of the last four years. I only hope to do as great a job leading this union over the next four years as AFSCME members do everyday to make their communities better places to live.”

Hillary Clinton Addresses AFSCME Convention Tue, 19 Jul 2016 15:52:00 -0500 Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Secretary Hillary Clinton rallied public service workers from around the country at the 42nd Bi-Annual International Member Convention of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) on Tuesday, July 19.

Sec. Clinton addressed the 6,000 delegates and guests to AFSCME’s convention on topics including her plans to rebuild an economy that works for all Americans, not just those at the top. She pointed out Donald Trump’s dangerous record of exploiting workers, and highlighted the clear choice facing working families in this election. Sec. Clinton stands with AFSCME members on the issues that affect their everyday lives and their communities, such as improving the incomes of ordinary Americans, along with equal pay, retirement security and the right to organize together in strong unions.

“I will be by your side in this fight every step of the way. If I have the honor of serving you as President, working people will always have a seat at the table and a champion in the White House,” said Sec. Clinton. “I believe that when unions are strong, America is strong.”

“And we all need to do more to support all our public servants,” added Clinton. “These are jobs that provide dignity and a sense of purpose. Jobs that are about giving back and making our communities stronger.”

AFSCME was proud to back Sec. Clinton in October of 2015 after an exhaustive endorsement process found nearly two-thirds of our membership supported her for president. AFSCME members are on the front lines, making our communities safer, healthier and stronger every day. Just as we never quit answering the call for our neighborhoods, public service workers will never quit working to elect a president who shares our passion for public service.

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on the Shooting of Police Officers in Baton Rouge Sun, 17 Jul 2016 06:00:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement about this morning’s shooting of police officers in Baton Rouge:

“All of AFSCME is devastated by the news out of Baton Rouge this morning. Across the country every single day, millions of police officers do a dangerous job with honor and professionalism. We send our deepest condolences to the families of the fallen and pray for a full recovery for the wounded.

“This has been a difficult month for the Baton Rouge community, for our nation and the world. It has never been more important for all of us to stand united against violence, embrace our common humanity, and summon our better angels.”

Labor Leaders Win Strong Fair-Trade Platform Language Sat, 09 Jul 2016 13:52:00 -0500 American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees President Lee Saunders and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers President Bob Martinez on the Democratic Party platform committee’s adoption of the Saunders amendment on fair trade:

“The Democratic Party made history today on the crucial issue of fair trade. We adopted language in our platform that declares our support for working families by setting the highest possible standards for worker and environmental protections and significantly strengthening enforcement and accountability tools.

“We are proud to oppose trade agreements that do not support good American jobs, raise wages and improve our national security.

“This amendment is a clear statement of where we stand on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and all other trade deals, past and future: We stand with American workers and against bad trade deals.

“Even in a tense negotiating environment, our bold statement in support of fair trade standards for working people passed overwhelmingly, by a count of 117 to 64.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on the Shooting Deaths of Police Officers in Dallas Fri, 08 Jul 2016 10:43:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the shooting deaths of police officers in Dallas:

“The 1.6 million members of AFSCME are devastated by the assassination of five Dallas police officers and the wounding of seven others. Millions of law enforcement officers go to work each day to protect their communities, unsure whether they will come home at night. For five brave souls, that concern proved all too real.

“For law enforcement officers in Dallas and across America, the risk and worry no doubt feels heavier today. We owe them and their loved ones our prayers, our love and our gratitude. There is no excuse for this violence. None.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on the Shooting Deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile Thu, 07 Jul 2016 20:04:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile:

“As a union that represents public service workers, including law enforcement officers, and is steeped in the history of civil rights, AFSCME has a unique perspective of the crisis roiling this country. And make no mistake: This is a crisis. Denying it is not an option.

“We must end the unacceptable violence that cut short the lives of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, while honoring the millions of officers who do a dangerous job each day with dignity and respect for all. We are better than this.”

AFSCME Members Welcome Secretary Hillary Clinton at 42nd International Convention Tue, 05 Jul 2016 17:56:00 -0500 The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) will be joined by presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Secretary Hillary Clinton, at their 42nd International Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Tuesday, July 19.

AFSCME proudly supports Secretary Clinton, as she stands with AFSCME members on the issues that affect our communities, such as equal pay, retirement security and strong unions, and we are united in our commitment to put a champion for working people in the White House. Public service workers played a key role in the grassroots efforts that helped Hillary Clinton secure the nomination and will work to elect her president in November.

Media interested in covering this event should RSVP here.

Secretary Hillary Clinton at AFSCME 42nd International Convention
When: 11:30 AM PST, Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Where: Las Vegas Convention Center, 3150 Paradise Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89109

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Supreme Court Denial of Certiorari in Home Care Association of America v. Weil Mon, 27 Jun 2016 13:05:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to deny certiorari in Home Care Association of America v. Weil: 

“We are very pleased that the decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Home Care Association of America v. Weil stands. That decision upholds the Department of Labor’s rule applying Fair Labor Standards Act protections to the more than 2 million home care workers throughout the nation. These home care workers offer essential services to the elderly and disabled, and now they can finally receive the wages and overtime pay they deserve. This will enable them to focus on providing quality services so those who are in need of care can remain at home and live with dignity.”

AFSCME President Lee Saunders on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision in United States vs. Texas. Thu, 23 Jun 2016 17:12:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on today’s 4-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in United States vs. Texas.

“Because of a politically motivated legal effort to challenge the President’s constitutional authority, civil rights and economic justice remain out of reach for millions of families who live in constant fear of being torn apart. Meanwhile, the exploitation of workers in the shadow economy continues to drive down wages and benefits for all working people.

“The political agenda that challenged the President’s authority in DAPA and DACA expansion is the same as the agenda preventing the Court from operating at full capacity. Americans expect the U.S. Supreme Court to function fully and exist above politics in order to protect the Constitution. That is why members of the United States Senate who have been shirking their constitutional obligations to the country should finally do their job and give President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, a hearing and an up or down vote. After a ninth justice is finally confirmed, we urge the Department of Justice to seek a rehearing in this case.”

AFSCME President Lee Saunders on the 2016 Social Security and Medicare Trustees Report Wed, 22 Jun 2016 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the 2016 Social Security and Medicare Trustees Report:

“The report released today underscores the vital importance of preserving, protecting and expanding Social Security and Medicare. In an out-of-balance economy that increasingly favors a handful of the wealthy few, and with half of Americans without access to pensions, Social Security and Medicare are increasingly necessary to keep tens of millions of Americans out of poverty when they leave the workforce. Americans who work their entire lives and pay into Social Security and Medicare deserve to have access to the benefits when they retire, and Congress should, and can, strengthen the financial solvency of these programs for future retirement, disability and survivor beneficiaries – but not by shifting costs on to beneficiaries.”

National Unions Coordinate Support for Orlando Community Tue, 14 Jun 2016 17:13:00 -0500 Leaders of the American Federation of Teachers, the Florida Education Association, the National Education Association, the Service Employees International Union, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees released the following statements today on their coordinated efforts to provide support and resources to the Orlando community in the wake of Sunday’s horrific shooting. The unions have joined forces to offer counseling to members and their families who have been affected, assemble resources for parents and teachers to help children understand the news, and point supporters toward blood donation and targeted fundraising efforts.

AFT President Randi Weingarten said, “AFT members, including teachers, school staff, social workers and nurses, are on the front lines when our communities are traumatized by violence. We are committed to supporting our members; our students, patients and their families; and communities in Florida and around the country, as we grapple with this horrible act of hatred. We’re working with our state affiliate, the Florida Education Association, along with the NEA, SEIU and AFSCME, to coordinate support and resources for the Orlando community and for educators nationwide during this time of crisis. It is clear that this was an act of hatred perpetrated against the LGBT community. We will work not just to support one another, but to educate and foster acceptance and love so we can prevent hate-based crimes through understanding. Let us all find the moral courage to use this tragedy to build bridges and open our hearts, not to build walls and further hatred.”

Visit the AFT’s to find resources for talking to kids about the Orlando attack.

FEA President Joanne McCall, who is an AFT vice president, said, “Our hearts go out to the victims of another senseless mass shooting. We send our prayers to the victims and their families and friends and for the entire community of Orlando. We pray for an end to these all-too-familiar acts of violence. As educators, we know that violence has no place in our society.”

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said, “Orlando, we are holding you in love. In a thousand ways, we will turn our powerful love into powerful actions and stand against the hate that was unleashed against you. Educators join Americans across this country in embracing you with prayers and support. Even in the face of such hatred and violence we will never lose hope that love conquers hate.”

Visit ‪‬‬‬‬ to find resources and opportunities to support the victims of the Orlando attack.    ‬

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry said, “We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in labor and in the progressive community to help communities across this country heal and recover. Together, we demand that our nation does everything to ensure that no more families have to feel this pain, sadness and loss ever again. It’s long past time for our nation to do something about gun violence in our communities. SEIU renews the commitment of our 2 million members to use every ounce of our energy to unite and fight to end this senseless gun violence and build a better future for all families.”

AFSCME President Lee Saunders said, “Our hearts go out to the victims and families of the mass shooting in Orlando, the largest atrocity of this kind in U.S. history. We thank the first responders on the scene and those around the country who never quit on their communities, especially when the unthinkable happens.

“Public service workers are steadfast in our commitment to confront the bigotry behind this attack on the LGBT community. We renew our promise to defeat this kind of hatred with the compassion we bring to our jobs every day.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders: “Now Is The Time To Unite For Working Families” Tue, 07 Jun 2016 21:00:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders congratulated Sec. Hillary Clinton on becoming the presumptive Democratic nominee for president and called for unity in electing a champion for working families this November:

“I am pleased to join hundreds of thousands of nurses, first responders and other public service workers in congratulating Secretary Hillary Clinton on becoming the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party.

“Throughout this campaign, Secretary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders have made the concerns of working families their top priority. After months of passionate debate, voters have chosen Secretary Clinton. Now is the time to unite for working families.

“The choice between Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump could not be clearer. Trump is a dangerous and unstable demagogue who thinks American wages are too high and has called for gutting workers’ rights. Public service workers are ready to hit the streets to make sure he gets nowhere near the White House.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Speaker Ryan’s Anti-Poverty Plan Tue, 07 Jun 2016 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement on House Speaker Paul Ryan’s anti-poverty plan, “A Better Way”:

“Speaker Ryan’s plan to reduce poverty drastically misses the mark. In an economy that is out of balance and favors the wealthy few, Speaker Ryan’s plan would in fact exacerbate poverty and inequality by slashing and severely weakening the vital social safety net a vast majority of Americans rely upon. 70 percent of Americans will turn to the social safety net in their lifetime, and programs such as Social Security, tax credits for working families and other effective investments in education and child care have kept many Americans out of poverty. But Speaker Ryan’s plan does nothing to strengthen Social Security or Medicare, and it touts the failed Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant model for other safety net programs.

“This comes as no surprise. Speaker Ryan has endorsed the GOP House budget proposal that would cut $3.7 trillion from programs that support struggling American families while protecting tax cuts for a handful of wealthy and powerful interests. If Speaker Ryan and his colleagues in Congress are serious about lifting Americans out of poverty and expanding opportunity, they should support proven policies like raising the minimum wage and ensuring equal pay for women, as well as overtime pay for Americans who are not getting paid for the work they already do.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Final Obama Administration Overtime Rule Wed, 18 May 2016 10:25:53 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the Obama Administration’s final Overtime Rule, which will raise the overtime salary threshold for millions of Americans to $47,476:

“Americans are now much closer to getting the hard-earned raise they deserve. Today people are working harder and putting in longer hours, yet are making less money than they were decades ago because our economy is out of balance. The Administration’s overtime rule will help to reverse this imbalance by helping to ensure that working people get paid for the work they already do.

“In an economy that only benefits the wealthy few, raising the overtime threshold will provide much needed protection for hardworking people that will not only help to restore the 40-hour work week, but also improve incomes and grow the middle class. Millions of Americans go above and beyond, working more than 40 hours a week. Congress should not stand in the way of these working people getting the hard-earned and long-overdue raise they deserve by taking any legislative action that would overturn, weaken or delay implementation of this final rule.”