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Hundreds attend Staff the Front Lines job fair in Connecticut

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (center, white shirt) is flanked by AFSCME President Lee Saunders and AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler and AFSCME members at a Staff the Front Lines event held in a Hartford ballpark. Photo: Nick Voutsinos
Hundreds attend Staff the Front Lines job fair in Connecticut
By Natalia Pérez Santos and Nick Voutsinos ·

HARTFORD, Conn. – Nearly 630 people attended a job fair held here today in conjunction with an AFSCME Staff the Front Lines bus stop.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin joined AFSCME President Lee Saunders, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, AFSCME Council 4 Executive Director Jody Barr and local AFSCME union members for a bus stop press conference on the urgent need to fill open public service positions throughout the state.

The press conference coincided with a state-sponsored hiring event at Hartford Yard Goats Dunkin' Stadium, where job seekers met with representatives from city departments, state agencies and local employers. Employers included the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC), UCONN Health and the Metropolitan District Commission of Connecticut (MDC).

From nurses to sanitation workers to corrections officers, chronic short staffing is undermining the effective delivery of public services that the people of Connecticut 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 stopping in more than 20 major cities across the country this summer and holding recruitment events in many of them.

“We need you. These are great jobs, good pay, strong benefits,” Lamont said. “Come to state government, where the rubber meets the road and you’re making a difference every day. We need engineers, we need construction workers, we need each and every one of you. It’s a great time to be a young person – take advantage of it right here in the great state of Connecticut.”

Bronin said the City of Hartford has openings in a variety of fields.

“It’s not just the jobs that you might think of when you think about what a city does. If you’re an accountant, we got jobs. If you’re a (human resources) professional, we got jobs. There are so many ways to serve your community,” Bronin said.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders said a key goal of the Staff the Front Lines bus tour is to spread the word that public service jobs are available throughout the nation.“The ‘help wanted’ sign is out. As we speak, dozens of employers from state agencies, municipalities and more are participating at the job fair here at the ballpark, meeting with job seekers and telling them how to apply for open positions,” Saunders said. “This isn’t just a challenge, it truly is an opportunity. An opportunity to bring fresh talent to public service.”

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said she hears the same messages of powerlessness from workers everywhere – things are tough, finding a stable job is difficult, making ends meet is a challenge.

“So this is my invitation to every working person, and especially young people, out there: Reclaim your power. Come do that in a good, public sector union job. Come earn a living wage. Come get good health care. And come have a voice,” Shuler said.

AFSCME Council 4 Executive Director Jody Barr said it’s imperative to rebuild the public sector if American communities are to continue receiving world-class services.

“We must staff the front lines. That’s what this is all about. Here in Connecticut, our ability to work with our state and local elected officials has made the difference,” said Barr, who’s also an AFSCME vice president. “We have secured raises, and protected health care and retirement for all state workers through unprecedented agreements with the governor’s office.” 

Aimmee Reyes-Greaves, a Council 4 member and a corrections supervisor, said there is a staffing crisis in corrections nationwide.

“The safety and security of staff, inmates and the public are my No. 1 concern,” Reyes-Greaves said. “Even during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we never left our posts. A job in corrections is not easy, but it is an incredibly important job that you can be proud of. You get to go to work every day knowing that you are making a real difference in your community.”

And Marilyn Anthony, a CHCA District 1199 (NUHHCE) member and a nurse at Waterbury Hospital, said there’s never been a better time to be a nurse.“At Waterbury, a job as a nurse is a union job with incredible financial and job security,” Anthony said. “We recently negotiated a contract which will provide nurses a 4% raise every year through the lifetime of our current contract, which runs through 2025. And this is on top of amazing health care and retirement benefits. … I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity now. Our communities need you.”

To learn more about AFSCME’s national bus tour, visit

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