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AFSCME Staff the Front Lines bus makes second stop in Lansing, Michigan

AFSCME Council 25 member Sam Muma speaks in front of the Staff the Front Lines bus in Lansing, Michigan. Photo: Nick Voutsinos/ AFSCME
AFSCME Staff the Front Lines bus makes second stop in Lansing, Michigan
By AFSCME Staff ·

Our union’s Staff the Front Lines bus arrived in Lansing, Michigan, today, the second stop of a national tour that seeks to encourage employers to fill open public service positions. It brought together AFSCME members and leaders with elected officials.

“Public service is unique,” said Michigan’s Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II. “The choice to put your professional time in service of the people whom you live with and live around, that is such an emotional commitment to community. That is something that must be understood and rewarded.”

Unfortunately, despite an end to the public emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic, life has yet to return to normal for front-line workers in communities across the country. Many such workers – from nurses to corrections officers and 911 dispatchers – are doing their best in severely understaffed workplaces and government agencies aren’t filling job vacancies fast enough.   

AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Elissa McBride put in stark context the number of such vacancies in communities across the nation.

“I’m going to start with a number: 959,000,” she said. “That’s the population of Detroit, Flint and Lansing combined, but it’s also the number of vacancies in public sector jobs in the United States. Every day those positions go unfilled, our communities, our loved ones and our families suffer – and that’s why we need to solve this staffing crisis.”

Among the AFSCME members in attendance were Sam Muma, a Flint Street operator and maintainer who is a member of Council 25, and Jacob Brown, a worker at the state’s Department of Natural Resources who is a member of the Michigan State Employees Association (MSEA).

“America cut a bunch of important public service jobs during the Great Recession,” Muma said. “Jobs of city workers like me, who keep our water clean, our streets safe and our communities healthy. Now we need to work on filling these public service jobs and going further than that.”

Brown highlighted the importance of public service jobs to the health of communities all over the state.

“My work, and the work of all my union siblings in the Department of Natural Resources, is essential in maintaining Michigan’s natural beauty,” he said. “But the truth is, we need more workers to ensure that our pristine environment stays that way.”

The public service job openings represent a huge opportunity to qualified candidates. Many of these are good union jobs – jobs with a purpose that offer higher pay, excellent health care and retirement security.

“The hundreds of different jobs that make our lives better … are performed by people who love their jobs and are willing to talk about it,” said Lawrence Roehrig, president of Council 25. “We are here to tell you that we are trying to match jobs to people who want to be part of this solution.”

Our union remains committed to partnering with state and local officials to find solutions to the public service staffing crisis.

“We’re honored to partner with elected officials who are committed to finding solutions with us,” McBride also said. “And we’re going to figure out solutions, because we know the difference public service makes.”

The STFL bus tour began Monday with a first stop in Rochester, N.Y. It will make stops in more than 20 communities in Minnesota, Washington, California, Arizona, New Mexico, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Virginia. The tour is part of our union’s Staff the Front Lines initiative, which includes hiring events, legislative advocacy, partnership building and a digital marketing strategy.

Staff the Front Lines bus tour in the news

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