AFSCME.org Press Release Feed http://www.afscme.org/rss/press-releases AFSCME.org Press Releases Tue, 3 May 2011 05:00:00 +0000 AMPS en hourly 1 The Affordable Care Act ‘Will Continue to Help Families’ http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/the-affordable-care-act-will-continue-to-help-families Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:11:05 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/the-affordable-care-act-will-continue-to-help-families 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.”

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Home Care, Child Care Providers Resolute in Face of Supreme Court Decision http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/home-care-child-care-providers-resolute-in-face-of-supreme-court-decision Mon, 30 Jun 2014 14:10:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/home-care-child-care-providers-resolute-in-face-of-supreme-court-decision 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.

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AFSCME Stands in Solidarity with Edward Lane http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-stands-in-solidarity-with-edward-lane Thu, 19 Jun 2014 15:49:57 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-stands-in-solidarity-with-edward-lane 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.”

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AFSCME Stands with Teachers in Vergara v. California http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-stands-with-teachers-in-vergara-v-california Wed, 11 Jun 2014 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-stands-with-teachers-in-vergara-v-california 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.”

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AFSCME Lauds Representative Lynch’s Bill Establishing National EMS Memorial, Urges Swift Passage http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-lauds-representative-lynchs-bill-establishing-national-ems-memorial-urges-swift-passage Tue, 27 May 2014 17:53:34 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-lauds-representative-lynchs-bill-establishing-national-ems-memorial-urges-swift-passage “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.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on National Police Week http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-national-police-week Thu, 15 May 2014 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-national-police-week 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.”

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Statement of AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders: Congress Must Guarantee the Right to Vote http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/statement-of-afscme-pres-lee-saunders-congress-must-guarantee-the-right-to-vote Thu, 15 May 2014 10:17:16 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/statement-of-afscme-pres-lee-saunders-congress-must-guarantee-the-right-to-vote 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.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Public Service Recognition Week http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-public-service-recognition-week Tue, 06 May 2014 16:19:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-public-service-recognition-week 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.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Corrections Officers and Employees Week http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-corrections-officers-and-employees-week Sun, 04 May 2014 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-corrections-officers-and-employees-week 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.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on May Day http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-may-day Thu, 01 May 2014 10:55:32 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-may-day 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.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Statement on HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-statement-on-hhs-secretary-kathleen-sebelius Fri, 11 Apr 2014 15:48:14 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-statement-on-hhs-secretary-kathleen-sebelius 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.”

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AFSCME President Blasts House Approval of Budget for Wealthy http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-president-blasts-house-approval-of-budget-for-the-wealthy Thu, 10 Apr 2014 15:11:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-president-blasts-house-approval-of-budget-for-the-wealthy 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.”

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Our Mothers, Wives and Daughters Deserve Equal Pay for Equal Work http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/our-mothers-wives-and-daughters-deserve-equal-pay-for-equal-work Tue, 08 Apr 2014 10:32:01 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/our-mothers-wives-and-daughters-deserve-equal-pay-for-equal-work 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.”

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AFSCME Applauds Senate Approval of Jobless Aid and Calls on House to Act Without Delay http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-applauds-senate-approval-of-jobless-aid-and-calls-on-house-to-act-without-delay Mon, 07 Apr 2014 19:30:19 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-applauds-senate-approval-of-jobless-aid-and-calls-on-house-to-act-without-delay 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.” 

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“The dream lives on when we take a stand against injustice.” http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/the-dream-lives-on-when-we-take-a-stand-against-injustice Fri, 04 Apr 2014 10:26:45 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/the-dream-lives-on-when-we-take-a-stand-against-injustice 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.”

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AFSCME's Saunders: "Supreme Court Ruling is a Step Backwards" http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscmes-saunders-supreme-court-ruling-is-a-step-backwards Wed, 02 Apr 2014 18:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscmes-saunders-supreme-court-ruling-is-a-step-backwards 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.”

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AFSCME’s Saunders on GOP Tax Plan: “Give Us a Break” http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscmes-saunders-on-gop-tax-plan-give-us-a-break Wed, 26 Feb 2014 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscmes-saunders-on-gop-tax-plan-give-us-a-break AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement today on the House GOP tax plan.

“There are those in Congress whose idea of a tax plan is to lower corporate tax rates so corporations rake in more and contribute less to our own national well-being. Unfortunately, those representatives include the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

“Corporations don’t need a reduction in tax rates when many pay no or few taxes now.

“The architects of this tax plan sidestepped an opportunity and responsibility to create a fairer tax system that ensures corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share; ends tax breaks that encourage corporations to ship profits and jobs overseas; and raises much-needed tax revenue to help fund education, law enforcement and the other services on which we all rely.

“This is a very difficult time for working families to make it in America and it’s even harder when there are two sets of rules: one for the wealthy and corporations, and another for the rest of us. One way families can regain the security they lost is when everyone is required to pay their fair share in taxes.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on the Retirement of Rep. John Dingell http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-retirement-of-rep-john-dingell Tue, 25 Feb 2014 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-retirement-of-rep-john-dingell AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement today on the retirement of Rep. John Dingell.

“For five decades, Rep. John Dingell stood up for the dignity of working families in Michigan and across the country.  He made their well-being the primary focus of his work.  He steadily pursued universal health care coverage, from the first day he stepped onto the House floor 59 years ago. He championed manufacturing, particularly the auto industry, and fought for an economy that would deliver economic benefits for all Americans, not just the wealthy.  His belief in dignity and fairness drove him to take on the hard fights.  While the successes never came easy, more often than not, he won.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement today on the retirement of Rep. John Dingell.

“For five decades, Rep. John Dingell stood up for the dignity of working families in Michigan and across the country.  He made their well-being the primary focus of his work.  He steadily pursued universal health care coverage, from the first day he stepped onto the House floor 59 years ago. He championed manufacturing, particularly the auto industry, and fought for an economy that would deliver economic benefits for all Americans, not just the wealthy.  His belief in dignity and fairness drove him to take on the hard fights.  While the successes never came easy, more often than not, he won.”

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Institutional Investors Press Companies for Disclosure of Lobbying in 2014 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/institutional-investors Tue, 18 Feb 2014 16:40:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/institutional-investors Investors today announced the filing of shareholder resolutions at 48 corporations as part of a 2014 proxy season initiative asking companies to annually report their federal and state lobbying. That includes any payments to trade associations used for lobbying as well as support for tax-exempt organizations that write and endorse model legislation.

The lobbying disclosure initiative is a natural extension of ongoing shareholder efforts seeking greater corporate political spending transparency and accountability. Specifically, enhanced lobbying disclosure will enable shareholders to better evaluate whether a company’s lobbying expenditures and actions advance the company’s interests and do not present risks to company value. 

A 2014 report by Glass Lewis found that 2013 resolutions relating to political spending of a company were the most common shareholder proposal put forth during the proxy season for the third consecutive year.[1] Reflecting investors’ interest in enhanced disclosure, a rulemaking petition at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requiring public companies to disclose their political spending to shareholders attracted a record level of support for SEC rulemaking, with more than 700,000 comment letters submitted – the vast majority in support.

While the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and the unprecedented amount of political spending in the 2012 elections attracted a great deal of media attention, company expenditures on federal lobbying far exceed political election contributions, often by more than a 10-to-1 ratio. For example, a 2013 Stanford study found that during the 2010 election, $3.6 billion was spent on federal elections while $7.5 billion was spent on federal lobbying, out of which corporations spent $246 million on federal campaign expenditures but spent at least $5.1 billion on federal lobbying. During the same period, the Chamber of Commerce spent $33 million on political contributions and $302 million on lobbying.[2] These figures do not include state level lobbying expenditures by companies, where there is incomplete disclosure and yearly spending exceeds $1 billion.

Moreover, lobbying by trade associations is supported by corporate contributions that are substantial and largely unreported. For example the Chamber of Commerce spent more than $1 billion on lobbying since 1998, making it the country’s largest lobbying spender. The majority of companies do not disclose the portions of their trade association payments used for lobbying. These payments can create reputational risks for companies. Lobbying disclosure proponents believe companies need to manage these risks by assessing whether their memberships in and lobbying through trade associations accurately represent their corporate interests and policy positions, and that shareholders need to understand their companies’ expenditures for trade association lobbying and the risks they can represent.

The resolutions also ask companies to disclose payments to and membership in tax-exempt organizations that write and endorse model legislation, which includes the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC approved model legislation based on Florida’s Stand Your Ground law that gained national attention after the tragic killing of teenager Trayvon Martin. In response to investor and grassroots pressure, more than 70 companies, including Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Coca-Cola, Darden Restaurants, Endo Health Solutions, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft, Pepsi, Sallie Mae, Unilever, Visa, Walgreens and Yum! Brands, evaluated the risk to their corporate reputations, compared to the benefits of continuing membership, and made the decision to leave ALEC.

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, an active proponent of corporate disclosure of both political spending and lobbying, stated, “Transparency is fundamental to strong corporate governance and key to the New York State Common Retirement Fund's engagement with our portfolio companies.”  DiNapoli's office oversees the $160.7 billion state fund.  “We need sunlight on lobbying operations so we can evaluate potential risks to our investments. Any political spending, including lobbying, made with shareholder dollars should be disclosed.”

Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME and chair of the AFSCME Employees Pension Plan’s Pension Committee, stated, “Lobbying disclosure is in both companies’ and shareholders’ best interests and will help ensure corporate assets are used in the best interest of the company and its shareholders. There’s a saying that if you’re ashamed to talk about it, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing it. Companies already have this lobbying information so disclosure wouldn’t be difficult.”

Timothy Smith, director of environmental, social and governance (ESG) shareowner engagement at Walden Asset Management and one of the coordinators of this initiative, stated, “Over the last 10 years, investors increasingly have urged companies to disclose their spending aimed at influencing elections. This year, investors have once again taken a logical next step and asked companies to disclose their direct and indirect lobbying activities. Whether the issue is environmental impact, consumer protection, financial reform or shareholder rights, it is important for investors to understand how company dollars are spent to influence our laws and regulations by lobbying activities. While many companies have modest government affairs budgets, others spend tens of millions of dollars annually on lobbying directly and through trade associations. In addition, many companies work through lobbying organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to influence legislation and regulation at the state level such as their attack on renewable energy regulation. We believe it is timely and appropriate for companies to be much more transparent.”

This is the fourth year proposals asking for lobbying disclosure were filed by investors. In 2013, 70 proponents filed 50 proposals, and the 40 that went to vote averaged 26 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 led many companies to improve their lobbying disclosure, leading to settlements and improved disclosure at more than 25 companies, including 3M, Accenture, Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Endo Health Solutions and St. Jude Medical.

Sixty investors joined in filing and co-filing the resolution seeking comprehensive disclosure of corporate lobbying. This unique investor network is organized by the AFSCME Employees Pension Plan and Walden Asset Management, a division of Boston Trust & Investment Management Company.  

Specifically, the resolution asks for disclosure of:

  1. Company policy and procedures governing lobbying, including that done on the company’s behalf by trade associations.
  2. Payments used for lobbying and grassroots lobbying communications.
  3. Membership in and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation.
  4. Decision-making processes and oversight by management and the board.
Among companies receiving lobbying disclosure resolutions for 2014 are:
Abbott Laboratories (ABT)
Accenture (ACN)
Alliant Techsystems (ATK)
Allstate (ALL)
Altria Group (MO)
Ameren (AEE)
Amgen (AMGN)
AT&T (T)
Bank of America (BAC)
BlackRock (BLK)
Boeing (BA)
Celgene (CELG)
Chevron (CVX)
Citigroup (C)
Comcast (CMCSA) ConocoPhillips (COP)
CVS Caremark Corporation (CVS)
Devon Energy (DVN)
Dominion Resources Services (D)
EBay Inc. (EBAY)
Emerson Electric (EMR)
ExxonMobil Corporation (XOM)
Facebook (FB)
FirstEnergy (FE)
General Dynamics (GD)
Google (GOOG)
Honeywell (HON)
IBM (IBM)
JPMorgan Chase (JPM)
Lorillard (LO)
Marathon Oil Company (MRO)
Marathon Petroleum (MPC)
Morgan Stanley (MS)
Norfolk Southern (NSC)
Peabody Energy (BTU)
Philip Morris International (PM)
Raytheon (RTN)
Reynolds American (RAI)
Sallie Mae (SLM Corporation)(SLM)
Time Warner Cable (TWC)
United Parcel Service (UPS)
United Technologies (UTX)
UnitedHealth Group (UNH)
Verizon Communications (VZ)
VISA U.S.A. Inc. (V)
Wal-Mart (WMT)
Yahoo (YHOO)

Filers of Lobbying Disclosure Resolutions

Public Pension Funds

State of Connecticut Treasurer’s Office
New York State Common Retirement Fund

Labor Pension Plans and Organizations

AFSCME Employees Pension Plan
AFL-CIO
CTW Investment Group
United Steelworkers

Asset Management Companies

Boston Common Asset Management
Domini Social Investments
First Affirmative Financial Network
Green Century Funds
Rockefeller and Co.
Sustainability Group, Loring, Wolcott & Coolidge
Trillium Asset Management
Walden Asset Management
Zevin Asset Management

Foundations

Brainerd Foundation
Center for Community Change
Christopher Reynolds Foundation
Edward W. Hazen Foundation
Haymarket People's Fund
Lemmon Foundation
Max and Anna Levinson Foundation
Merck Family Fund
Needmor Fund
Oneida Tribe of Indians Trust Fund
Russell Family Foundation
Tides Foundation

Non-Profit Institutional Investors

Manhattan Country School

Religious Filers

Benedictine Sisters Charitable Trust, Boerne, TX
Benedictine Sisters of Baltimore – Emmanuel Monastery
Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica
Catholic Health East
Community Church of New York
Congregation of Divine Providence, San Antonio, TX
Congregation of Divine Providence, San Antonio, TX
Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes
Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross
Congregation of the Sisters St. Joseph of Brighton
Dignity Health
Episcopal Church
First Parish Unitarian Universalist, Cambridge, MA
First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn
Friends Fiduciary Corporation
Glenmary Home Missioners
Marianist Province of the United States
Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers
Mercy Investment Services
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
Monasterio Pan de Vida
Providence Trust
Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order
Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Sisters of Notre Dame
Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Boston
Sisters of the Holy Family, CA
Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate
Unitarian Universalist Association

Individuals

Gun Denhart
Gwendolen Noyes
Ronald Trimmer

Proposal Example – Google

Whereas, we believe it is important that Google’s lobbying positions, and processes to influence public policy, are transparent.  Public opinion is skeptical of corporate influence on Congress and public policy and controversial lobbying activity may pose risks to our company’s reputation.

Google spent approximately $31.35 million in 2010, 2011 and 2012 on federal lobbying, according to Senate reports.  But this figure may not include grassroots lobbying to influence legislation by mobilizing public support or opposition. Also, not all states require disclosure of lobbying expenditures. The reports also do not include contributions to tax-exempt organizations which write and endorse model legislation.

Resolved, the shareholders of Google request the Board authorize the preparation of a report, updated annually, and disclosing:

  1. Company policy and procedures governing lobbying, both direct and indirect, and grassroots lobbying communications.
  1. Payments by Google used for (a) direct or indirect lobbying or (b) grassroots lobbying communications, in each case including the amount of the payment and the recipient.
  2. Google’s membership in and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation.
  3. Description of the decision making process and oversight by management and the Board for making payments described in sections 2 and 3 above.

For purposes of this proposal, a “grassroots lobbying communication” is a communication directed to the general public that (a) refers to specific legislation or regulation, (b) reflects a view on the legislation or regulation and (c) encourages the recipient of the communication to take action with respect to the legislation or regulation. “Indirect lobbying” is lobbying engaged in by a trade association or other organization of which Google is a member.

Both “direct and indirect lobbying” and “grassroots lobbying communications” include efforts at the local, state and federal levels.

The report shall be presented to the Audit Committee or other relevant Board oversight committees and posted on the company’s website.

Supporting Statement

We encourage transparency about the ways corporate funds influence legislation and regulation, directly and indirectly. We commend Google for updating disclosure on its website on political spending and lobbying but the company still does not disclose details about lobbying through trade associations, maintaining secrecy about its payments used for lobbying by these associations. 

For example, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent over $1 billion in lobbying since 1998, yet any Google funding of the Chamber is secret. The Chamber has also sued the EPA for its work on climate regulation. 

In addition, Google reportedly sits on a task force of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which has launched a “high priority campaign” to repeal renewable energy standards in states.            

In contrast, Google’s website publicly affirms its commitment to “protecting the environment.”

It is in Google’s best interests to review its public policy advocacy and oversight and expand its public disclosure about third party lobbying.


[1] “Political Contributions – A Glass Lewis Issue Report,” Glass Lewis, 2014.

[2] Adam Bonica, “Avenues of Influence: On the Political Expenditures of Corporations and Their Directors and Executives,” December 3, 2013.

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Rep. Henry Waxman: Service with Courage http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/rep-henry-waxman-service-with-courage Fri, 31 Jan 2014 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/rep-henry-waxman-service-with-courage AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement today on the retirement of Rep. Henry Waxman.

“Rep. Henry Waxman, one of our nation’s most influential lawmakers, will retire from Congress after four decades of service, but he leaves a legacy of expanded health care and Medicaid coverage, cleaner air and water, and safer and more affordable medicines for Americans. He played a central role in passage of some of the most important legislation of our time. Rep. Waxman doggedly pursued the interests of the voiceless and vulnerable, sometimes over opposition within his own party, because it was simply the right thing to do. Mr. Waxman’s leadership, values and determination will be sorely missed.”

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AFSCME’s Saunders: “Equal Pay Is More Than Dollars and Cents” http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscmes-saunders-equal-pay-is-more-than-dollars-and-cents Wed, 29 Jan 2014 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscmes-saunders-equal-pay-is-more-than-dollars-and-cents AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement today on paycheck fairness on the fifthanniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act:

“Equal pay is more than dollars and cents; it’s about respect, dignity and equality in the workplace. Five years ago today, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to address the pay gap between men and women. The ink has more than dried on this bill, and it is time for women across the country to stop being short-changed.

“From Presidents Kennedy to Obama, legislation was signed giving women hope that, one day, the 77 cents they make for every $1 made by men would lead to income equality.  Year after year, we celebrate anniversaries while the wage gap widens.

“In a recovering economy and with record numbers of unemployment, women can no longer afford to be treated like second-class citizens on the company payroll. The pay disparity affects the entire family, as economic security is threatened when women are short-changed.  This is especially significant at a time when more women are becoming the family’s primary breadwinner.”

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AFSCME’s Saunders: “We Must Address Income Inequality in America” http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscmes-saunders-we-must-address-income-inequality-in-america Tue, 28 Jan 2014 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscmes-saunders-we-must-address-income-inequality-in-america AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address:

“Tonight, President Obama presented a comprehensive plan to move our country forward, create jobs and protect vital services for millions of Americans, with a focus on meaningful economic opportunity. Too often, opportunity comes with an inadequate wage for those who are unemployed and that exacerbates income inequality in our nation.  Earlier today the President took the first step to address this issue by raising the minimum wage for new government contract workers through executive order.  Now, Congress must heed his call and we must raise the minimum wage so that all Americans may live and prosper, not live in poverty.

We hope that the Congress will work with the President to take other steps to address the growing income inequality that hampers meaningful economic recovery in our country. This is the defining challenge of our time and we must rise together to meet it.

Combatting income inequality also means empowering workers to bargain for better pay and secure benefits. When unions are strong, all workers benefit. 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.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on the Introduction of the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-introduction-of-the-voting-rights-amendment-act-of-2014 Fri, 17 Jan 2014 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-introduction-of-the-voting-rights-amendment-act-of-2014 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the introduction of the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 in the U.S. House of Representatives:

“Last year, the Supreme Court caused national outrage when it gutted a crucial section of the Voting Rights Act with the Shelby County v. Holder decision. It pushed our nation in reverse after decades of hard work to make voting accessible for every American.

“A bipartisan group of lawmakers has come together and introduced crucial legislation which would restore voting oversight in states with a history of racial discrimination. Additionally, new measures will be put in place to prevent discrimination, by mandating that voters be informed of  any changes to local election law.

“It’s fitting that this legislation is introduced close to Martin Luther King Day.  We must continue Dr. King’s work by ensuring that every American has easy access to the voting booth. This legislation is a positive first step back in the right direction.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Opposition to Fast Track Authorization http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-opposition-to-fast-track-authorization Thu, 09 Jan 2014 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-opposition-to-fast-track-authorization AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement today in response to a bill introduced by Sen. Max Baucus and Rep. Dave Camp calling for fast track authorization:

“Fast track authorization is a threat to our democracy and our sovereignty.  It is a legislative procedure that facilitates closed-door deal making.  While corporations are present for trade negotiations, Congress and the public are not.

“Trade deals are sending more and more of our jobs and industries overseas. And the scope of trade negotiations extends beyond questions of tariffs, into policies that affect a broad range of U.S. standards – from the safety of our workplaces to the prices paid for life-saving medicines. The stakes are too high for Congress to tie its own hands when it comes to modifying trade deals it had little role in developing in the first place.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on the 50th anniversary of the “War on Poverty” http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-50th-anniversary-of-the-war-on-poverty Wed, 08 Jan 2014 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2014/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-50th-anniversary-of-the-war-on-poverty AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement today on the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty.

“Today we recognize the important successes of Pres. Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty initiatives.  Establishing Medicare and creating cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security cut in half the poverty rate for seniors. Without the many programs that have their roots in that era -- including Medicaid, food stamps (SNAP), subsidized child care, Head Start, housing assistance and many others -- the overall poverty rate would be nearly double what it is today.

“Every day, AFSCME members work to maximize the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs. Our members determine eligibility for social insurance and anti-poverty programs, and provide child care and home care services for the elderly and persons with disabilities. 

“But the safety net alone cannot bring about shared economic prosperity. Since mid-2009, 95 percent of all increased income in the U.S. went to the top 1 percent – the ultra-rich. Worsening income inequality is threatening the very existence of the middle class. To protect and grow the middle class, we must remove impediments to union organizing for public and private sector workers.  Congress must pass legislation that will create jobs. We must increase the federal minimum wage so jobs pay enough to lift families out of poverty.  And, wealthy individuals and corporations must pay their fair share in taxes to fund job growth and other initiatives that will rebuild the middle class.

“At the same time, we must protect and strengthen safety net programs.  Most immediately, Congress must continue jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.  And, as we mark this important War on Poverty anniversary, anti-poverty programs should receive adequate congressional support, so they can serve all who are eligible.” 

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