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Front-Line Workers are Stepping Up to the Plate – When Will Congress?

Front-Line Workers are Stepping Up to the Plate – When Will Congress?
Pictured: Sue Foster, member of AFSCME Local 4011. Member-provided photo.

In Louisville, Kentucky, the school employees of AFSCME Local 4011 (Council 962) are continuing to serve their community during the coronavirus pandemic – in a new and different way.

Every day, they staff dozens of food distribution sites, making sure that the children in their school district have healthy meals. This piece from the “Our Stories” page of the AFSCME website describes how the members of Local 4011 are stepping up to the plate, now more than ever. It is only one of many powerful and moving stories of AFSCME members on the front lines.

The leaders of Local 4011 have taken one of the most valuable tools for building and sustaining a union and turned it into a tool for staying connected and strong during the COVID-19 crisis. Since school employees in Louisville are now working remotely, the county-wide local has identified nine zones where members live. Each zone has a communication and mobilization structure to stay in touch with members and meet their needs. For any union activist, that concept sounds very familiar: it’s a MAT, or member action team, converted to a neighborhood network.

This is a story that highlights the life-saving value of solidarity. The story from Louisville also highlights the urgent need for funding for state and local government. Congress must act now to meet the immediate needs of communities.

Every day, in Louisville and across the nation, public employees make sure that kids eat. That safe water comes out of our taps. That unemployment insurance claims are processed. That garbage is collected. That 911 calls are answered. This work is often unseen or taken for granted – but it is work that sustains our lives and our livelihoods.

In this moment, when our communities are struggling more than ever, cities and states need the federal government’s help to bridge the gap until our states can safely reopen. Congress failed to include aid to cities and states in its last bill.

One big reason for that failure was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who refused to move a bill that included funding for the kind of services that the school employees of Local 4011 are providing in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky. Let’s hope that McConnell hears from a lot of the families who depend on those meals and other public services, from his own state and every other state.

Here’s how you can contact your own members of Congress and McConnell, to demand that they fund the front lines so that we can fight the pandemic and reopen our economy. Public service workers are doing their part. Members of Congress need to do theirs.

Take Action

Tell Congress to do its part to fund the front lines and pass state and local aid for public services.

Front-line public service workers are critical to fighting this pandemic and re-opening our economy. America can do neither if we lay them off.

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