Press Release Feed Press Releases Tue, 3 May 2011 05:00:00 +0000 AMPS en hourly 1 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders’ Statement on the White House Summit on Worker Voice Wed, 07 Oct 2015 15:19:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the White House Summit on Worker Voice and the importance of collective bargaining:

“It was heartening to hear many panelists today talking about the essential role that unions and collective bargaining play in fixing an economy that is badly out of balance and improving incomes for all working people.

Throughout the history of America, we see incontrovertible evidence that when unions are strong, all workers’ wages are higher and more families are part of a secure and thriving middle class. These gains for working families were not achieved through petitions, or asking the boss nicely. Without the ability to come together through a union to speak up for each other and bargain collectively with their employers, working people never truly have a voice and working families never truly build power.

We can once again value hard work over corporate profits and CEO bonuses if we act to change the rules to protect the interests of working families, not just the wealthy and well connected.

Unions are the last, meaningful voice for working people in this country, and without collective bargaining, working people will never truly have a voice on the job.”

AFSCME Mourns Loss of Leader Marty Beil Fri, 02 Oct 2015 12:41:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement mourning the loss of leader Marty Beil:

“We are devastated today at the sudden and tragic loss of Marty Beil, a fierce and courageous advocate for working people in the state of Wisconsin and across our nation. Brother Beil’s work was his passion, and his passion was fighting for workers’ rights and social justice – fighting to ensure that everyone in our nation got a fair shot at the American dream.

Throughout his long and distinguished service, Marty Beil improved the lives of thousands of AFSCME members and their families. By leading AFSCME Council 24 through the darkest days of the attacks on working families in Wisconsin, he helped light a spark that reignited our labor movement. In turn, people across this nation rose up in defense of workers’ rights. He helped change the conversation in this country about what it means to respect the dignity of working men and women.

Brother Beil spoke truth to power. And he backed his words up with actions. He never asked or expected anybody to make sacrifices that he wasn’t willing to make himself. A generation of labor activists learned from him and were inspired by his determination and unwavering courage, and their commitment and passion is his legacy. Today, our union is stronger than ever because of Marty Beil’s dedication and lifetime of service.

The thoughts and prayers of our entire AFSCME family are with Marty’s wife, Susan, his children, Natalie, Audra, and Nick, and his granddaughter, Trinity.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders’ Statement on Speaker Boehner’s Resignation Fri, 25 Sep 2015 15:52:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement following the news that Speaker Boehner will resign from Congress:

"We hope that Speaker Boehner’s resignation is not a sign of increasing extremism and intransigence in Congress. Regardless of partisan politics, working families in America need their elected officials to work together to keep the government open and fund the vital public services on which we all rely.

"Pope Francis stated in his address to Congress just this week: ‘You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics.’ Congress should listen to his advice."

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders’ Statement on Gov. Walker Dropping Out of the Republican Primary for President Mon, 21 Sep 2015 17:44:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement based on news reports indicating Gov. Scott Walker plans to drop out of the race for the republican presidential nomination:
“This is a clear rebuke of the anti-worker platform on which Governor Walker based his entire presidential campaign. At a time when Americans of both parties are frustrated with an unbalanced economy manipulated by CEOs and corporations – the very people who backed Governor Walker – it’s no surprise that nearly six in 10 Americans support labor unions and resoundingly reject his approach. Governor Walker found nearly zero support for his policies that would have tipped the scales even further against working families. Just one week after he tried to reboot his foundering campaign on the backs of working people, he has abandoned his bid for the presidency.
Combined with the recent defeat of right to work legislation in states across the country, the rejection of Governor Walker’s harmful, unjust economic policies should serve as a wake-up call to all politicians seeking to further their careers by silencing the voices of working people, and to those who would try to manipulate the U.S. Supreme Court to even further rig the rules for the wealthy. America’s voters are ready for better.”

AFSCME Hosts Presidential Town Halls Sun, 06 Sep 2015 13:32:00 -0500 Members of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) in Iowa and across the nation tuned in this Labor Day weekend for livestreamed town halls with Sec. Hillary Clinton, Gov. Martin O’Malley, and Sen. Bernie Sanders. The events gave working people and retirees the chance to interview the U.S. Presidential candidates about the issues that matter most to them: restoring balance to the economy, making a decent living to provide for their families, retirement security, and the ability of workers to bargain collectively.

Town hall participants in Iowa and nationwide provided feedback through surveys after the event as part of AFSCME’s democratic and transparent presidential endorsement process.

“People are working harder than ever, but basics like groceries and rent are eating up more and more of our paychecks every month,” said Iowa member and mother, Paula Martinez. “We asked the candidates how we can help our children achieve a better life if we can’t afford quality child care, let alone college.”

Public service workers are looking for a president who will balance the economy, and ensure it rewards hard work. They want a President who strengthens workers’ right to collectively bargain for wages and benefits, making it possible to sustain a family and retire with dignity.

“It seems like the rules are manipulated to help those at the top,” said Marc Wallace, an AFSCME Iowa member and veteran. “We’re feeling that unfairness just like everybody else and that’s what I came into this weekend hoping to hear the candidates address.”

Since the spring, AFSCME has been gathering feedback on the Presidential candidates and their vision for America from members nationwide through polling, surveys, and forums. The union sent questionnaires in the late spring to both Republican and Democratic candidates. The three candidates who filled out their questionnaires were invited to meet with our member-elected board of 35 international vice-presidents who represent councils and affiliates from across the country.

AFSCME invited the three candidates to participate in the Iowa town halls. Following the town halls, AFSCME will continue to engage our members and retirees to receive feedback on the Presidential nominees. Any endorsement decision will be driven by this member input and will be determined through a vote by the member-elected International Executive Board.

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders’ Statement on court decision upholding Fair Labor Standards Act protections for home care workers Fri, 21 Aug 2015 14:56:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia’s decision in Home Care Association of America v. Weil:

“We applaud today’s unanimous decision upholding the Department of Labor’s rule applying Fair Labor Standards Act protections to the more than 2 million home care workers throughout the nation. The court reinforced that these workers are more than mere ‘elder sitters’ outside the scope of federal minimum wage and overtime protections. They provide essential services that allow the elderly and disabled to remain in their own homes, and our laws should reward their labor with the same protections available to other workers. With this decision to stand on, we look forward to the Department of Labor’s enforcement of the rule in the states so that all home care workers can finally receive the fair wages they deserve.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders’ Statement on the Passing of Julian Bond Mon, 17 Aug 2015 12:06:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement mourning the loss of Julian Bond:

"Our world has lost a giant in the struggle for freedom and dignity for all people. Julian Bond leaves behind an enduring legacy both through the generations of activists who learned from his inspiration and guidance, and through the lives of millions of Americans who will grow up to raise their own children in a more equal society because of his work. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him, and by all who strive for justice."

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders’ Statement on President Obama’s Overtime Rule Change Tue, 30 Jun 2015 15:47:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the Obama administration’s proposed overtime rule change:

“Americans are working harder than ever, but while corporate profits are skyrocketing, incomes are still flat-lining. So it is an encouraging sign that President Obama’s proposal to change an outdated overtime rule could give workers who make up to $50,440 a hard-earned raise. To lift incomes for all working Americans, we must also restore the traditional 40-hour work week that too many workers are now denied. But lifting the overtime threshold to protect more workers is an important step toward improving American incomes, creating new jobs and growing the middle class.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Statement on the Obergefell v. Hodges Decision Fri, 26 Jun 2015 13:02:41 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision:

“Today is a momentous day. Together as a nation we took a dramatic step toward the ideals of equality and freedom. Today, brave Americans who were unafraid to stand up and organize for their basic rights proved once again the arc of history is long but it bends toward justice.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Statement on the King v. Burwell Decision Thu, 25 Jun 2015 10:52:20 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s King v. Burwell decision:

"We are thrilled that the Court came down on the side of allowing millions of Americans to keep their health care. By rejecting this overtly partisan attack against existing law, the Court has preserved the health and peace of mind of the more than 8 million Americans who will now continue to rely on the law for access to quality, affordable health coverage. Any further attempts by extremists in Congress or in the states to undermine the law should be dismissed as the dangerous, out of touch, and partisan ploys that they are. We hope this decision is a signal that the Court will not stand for political attacks on existing laws that work well, especially laws that benefit everyday Americans."

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Statement on the Voting Rights Advancement Act Thu, 25 Jun 2015 09:48:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the introduction of the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 by Sen. Patrick Leahy and Rep. John Lewis:

“There is nothing more fundamental to who we are as Americans than our right to cast a vote. Yet in 2015 we find that basic freedom under relentless attack from political opportunists and the Supreme Court, which two years ago gutted key provisions of the landmark Voting Rights Act. Yesterday, Senator Leahy and Representative Lewis introduced the Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore and safeguard every American citizen’s right to cast a ballot.

Fifty years ago, proud men and women in this country marched arm-in-arm, enduring vicious attacks, to ensure every citizen could vote. From their unwavering determination and sacrifice came the Voting Rights Act. AFSCME is committed to ensuring that our leaders in Congress today honor that sacrifice and protect the rights they secured for future generations.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Statement on Senate Fast Track Vote Tue, 23 Jun 2015 17:02:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the Senate’s vote to advance fast track legislation:

“It is unfortunate that the Senate sided with corporate interests over the American people by advancing legislation that will allow dangerous trade deals to be negotiated in secret. The past is prologue when it comes to American trade policy and fast track will only continue the terrible legacy of putting corporate profits ahead of American jobs, the environment, and our health care. We will now turn our focus to the deeply flawed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) and similar deals, which will open up vital public services to outsourcing. While this is a blow to working Americans, we will not give up the fight for transparency, fairness, and accountability in our country’s trade policies.”

Candidate Quotes from AFSCME Presidential Endorsement Meetings Wed, 10 Jun 2015 11:48:00 -0500 AFSCME began its 2016 presidential endorsement process this week by meeting with several announced candidates for president. Endorsement questionnaires were sent to Republican and Democratic candidates, and those candidates who returned completed questionnaires were invited to meet with AFSCME’s International Executive Board. This week, members of our board met with Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, Governor Martin O’Malley, and Senator Bernie Sanders. The candidates’ remarks and conversations with the board included the following highlights:


Governor Martin O’Malley:

“Unions have been a bulwark against what otherwise would have been the end of America’s middle class.”

“There are several things we can do to keep wages tracking more closely with productivity – one of those is growing union membership, and making it easier rather than harder to collectively bargain.”

“As I campaign and forge a new consensus here, part of what we have to do as a party is remind people and teach people what it’s going to take to rebuild our middle class, and union membership is a big part of that.” 

Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton:

“I believe that when unions are strong, America is strong. And I say that because it is a historic fact. And it’s an economic reality.” 

“The history is clear: The great American middle class was built largely by workers exercising their right to organize and to bargain collectively for higher wages and better conditions. When more workers were in unions, more workers were in the middle class. That’s just a fact, and I will be talking about that during this campaign.”

“At a time when those at the top have so many advantages, unions provide balance to our economy and a boost to everyday Americans, and we’re all therefore better off. I’ve said this all over the country. I will keep saying it.”

Senator Bernie Sanders:

“Taking on the billionaire class, making sure we have a tax system that asks the wealthiest and large corporations to pay their fair share, a system that guarantees higher education for all young people, a system that expands Social Security and doesn’t cut it, a political system that fights to join the rest of the industrialized world with health care for all people, a $15 an hour minimum wage, a system that makes it easier for workers to join unions. All of those ideas mean nothing if there is not a mass movement behind those ideas. And that movement is going to have to be led by the trade union movement, which I look forward to working with.”

AFSCME will continue to keep an open dialogue with candidates from both parties. Our process will be thorough and democratic, and the voices and priorities of our 1.6 million members across the country will determine the outcome.

Secretary Clinton offered a strong message for working families Mon, 13 Apr 2015 13:00:00 -0500 “Secretary Clinton offered a strong message for working families in her announcement today. Voters are looking for candidates from both parties to bring serious, proven solutions to the table that level the economic playing field and ensure every American has a free and fair shot at the American Dream. Among these proven solutions is making it easier for workers to organize so that they can share in the prosperity of their own productivity. America's public service workers look forward to hearing where the candidates stand.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Statement on National Healthy Schools Day, April 7, 2015 Tue, 07 Apr 2015 11:01:15 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement in support of National Healthy Schools Day, April 7, 2015:

“There is no question that quality public schools are a gateway to the middle class for millions of American children. AFSCME members from coast-to-coast work hard to ensure that our nation’s students are learning in an environment that supports their path to success. Whether it’s making sure students have a safe way to get to and from school or making sure classrooms are clean and secure, or providing nutritious meals, AFSCME members are dedicated to helping America’s children thrive. AFSCME is committed to protecting the next generation’s path to the middle class, and we are proud to support National Healthy Schools Day 2015.”

AFSCME Women's Conference Leaving Indiana Mon, 30 Mar 2015 13:52:00 -0500 "This past week, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law a bill that legalizes discrimination, allowing businesses to refuse service to customers simply because they are gay or lesbian. Further, since Governor Pence claims disingenuously that it is about religious freedom, his law protects any business owner who refuses to hire someone of a different religion from their own.

"This un-American law sets Indiana and our nation back decades in the struggle for civil rights. It is an embarrassment and cannot be tolerated. As such, AFSCME will move our 2015 Women’s Conference in October from Indianapolis, Indiana, to another state. We will send additional details about the conference’s new location and any necessary date change as they become available.

"The 1.6 million members of AFSCME cannot in good conscience make such a sizeable financial investment in Indiana knowing that women and men in that state are deliberately being targeted for discrimination.

"Throughout our proud history, our union has stood up whenever injustice has occurred – be it for striking sanitation workers in Memphis in 1968, or for the victims of apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s. Governor Pence’s law, motivated by ultra-right wing zealots, is an affront to the vast majority of those in our nation who believe that every American deserves equal treatment under the law, no matter whom they love or where they worship. 

"AFSCME is pulling our Women’s Conference out of Indiana this fall as a sign of our disgust and disappointment with Governor Pence’s discriminatory law. We stand with the ever-growing number of corporations and associations who are taking similar action this week, and demanding fairness for all in the state of Indiana."

President Saunders: We Need a Budget That Values Hard Work Wed, 18 Mar 2015 12:05:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders made the following statement regarding the Congressional budget proposals:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Among companies receiving lobbying disclosure resolutions for 2015 are:

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

Filers of Lobbying Disclosure Resolutions Include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Fleming
Gwendolen Noyes
Ronald Trimmer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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