Skip to main content

At Phoenix ‘Staff the Front Lines’ stop, governor, mayor join AFSCME president, workers

Photo: Andrew Dudenbostel
At Phoenix ‘Staff the Front Lines’ stop, governor, mayor join AFSCME president, workers
By Natalia Pérez Santos ·

PHOENIX – AFSCME President Lee Saunders and members of AFSCME Locals 2960 and 2384 joined Gov. Katie Hobbs and Mayor Kate Gallego today to speak about the urgent need to fill public service vacancies and the importance of hiring dedicated people to fill these good union jobs.

From nurses to sanitation workers to corrections officers, chronic short staffing is undermining the effective delivery of public services that Arizonans rely on.

That’s why AFSCME launched the Staff the Front Lines initiative this year, to partner with elected officials on recruiting and retaining the essential workers who keep our communities running. The Staff the Front Lines bus is visiting and holding recruitment events at more than 20 cities across the country this summer.

Saunders stressed the importance of working with state and local officials to staff the front lines and thanked Hobbs and Gallego for their commitment to committed to stepping up recruitment to fix the problem.

“All told, nationwide there are 970,000 state and local government job openings – that’s the highest number in the 20-plus years that this data has been collected. There simply aren’t enough people on the payroll providing the services that keep our neighborhoods running,” Saunders said at a news conference.

Hobbs, an AFSCME member, said the public service workforce is the backbone of Arizona’s economy.

“We need to do our part to make sure that your value is reflected in the way that we govern. By coming together, we can make sure that Arizona is the best place to live, work and raise a family,” Hobbs said.

The City of Phoenix has 2,300 vacancies, according to Gallego.

“We are America’s fastest growing city. We are adding a lot of residents and that gives us a chance to hire,” she said, adding that Phoenix needs, for instance, 911 operators. “It’s hard work, but so important to a successful community.”

Local 2960 President Frank Piccioli said entering public service gives applicants the chance to build meaningful, fulfilling careers. Local 2960 members work for the City of Phoenix and in EMS professions.

“There has never been a better time to apply,” Piccioli said. “Working with the mayor, we’ve negotiated a strong contract this year which is giving city workers the single largest pay increase in 40 years.”

Jason Henley, president of Local 2384, which represents “blue collar” workers for the City of Phoenix, said he gained the skills to work for the city’s water utility through the union’s apprenticeship program, and now mentors others.

“Whether you are beginning your career or looking for a fresh start, I guarantee there’s a job in public service for you. And if you’re interested in learning a new trade, there are programs to help you learn those skills,” he said.

Selena Barner, an AFSCME member and administrative aide for the Regional Wireless Cooperative, spoke about the good benefits – including educational assistance – and job security she enjoys, thanks to her union job.

“I was able to earn my associate degree for free, which will help open even more doors for me,” Barner said. “And the job security you have working in public service is unparalleled, which is so important for those with loved ones to support.”

Related Posts