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Blitz held to keep AFSCME’s voice strong in local worker advocacy in San Antonio

Pictured are some of the AFSCME members who took part in the summer blitz in San Antonio. Photo credit: Andrew Fernandez
Blitz held to keep AFSCME’s voice strong in local worker advocacy in San Antonio
By Anna Dang ·
Blitz held to keep AFSCME’s voice strong in local worker advocacy in San Antonio
David Owen

SAN ANTONIO – AFSCME members from across the nation knocked on doors, visited worksites and gathered signatures during a summer blitz in San Antonio to mobilize support for AFSCME Local 2021’s efforts to advocate for workers throughout the Texas metropolis.

Though San Antonio lacks a collective bargaining law, the local has proven that city employees still can build power and ensure they have a voice in the decisions that affect them. The city’s 12-seat Employment Management Committee (EMC) makes decisions that affect workers, and AFSCME members hold nine of those seats.

By engaging in vigorous advocacy on this committee, Local 2021 members have won pay increases, cost of living adjustments and permanent job class salary adjustments for city employees, and stopped the city’s attempts to cut jobs and increase the cost of health care.

“We're extremely far behind where we should be getting paid for most of our job titles throughout the city,” said David Owen, a 911 police communications supervisor who sits on the EMC. “It's important that the equality and wealth are spread across to everybody, and not just the higher ups.”

Every three years, San Antonio requires members of the EMC to submit enough petition signatures to continue serving on the committee.

This month, 23 AFSCME volunteer member organizers (VMOs) from Council 8 (Ohio), CSEA Local 1000 (New York), Local 13 (Pennsylvania), Local 93 (Massachusetts), HOPE Local 123 (Texas), Local 2384 (Arizona), District Council 37 (New York), and Council 3 (Maryland) joined by two new staff from Council 79 (Florida) participated in the blitz to keep all AFSCME members on the EMC.

During the two-week blitz, VMOs and staff knocked on 3,324 doors, engaged in 1,270 conversations – and signed up 62 new members for Local 2021 in the process.

AFSCME continues to fight to expand collective bargaining in Texas. In the meantime, Local 2021’s presence on the EMC has given city employees a much-needed voice.

“AFSCME is making a big difference,” said Tracey Nation, who holds a seat on the EMC and is a lead customer support worker for the city’s information technology department. “I don't think a lot of people recognize the resources (AFSCME) can bring together. … If they want to continue having a spokesperson for them, the union is a spokesperson.”

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