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AFSCME members seek fairer contract for Nebraska state workers

Photo Credit: Getty Images
AFSCME members seek fairer contract for Nebraska state workers

LINCOLN, Neb. – Members of Nebraska Association of Public Employees/AFSCME Local 61 (NAPE) are getting ready for a new round of contract negotiations with the state and are taking steps this week to broaden support for their efforts to secure a fair contract for state workers.

NAPE members are holding a rally today outside the Nebraska State Office Building in Lincoln to kick off contract talks. All state employees are invited to join.

The NAPE negotiations team will also visit 20 worksites this week to update state employees about the status of negotiations. They’ll be joined by dozens of volunteer member organizers (VMOs), who have taken time off of work to talk to their co-workers about the union, sign up new members and organize ahead of the negotiations.

“We’re going to talk to as many of our co-workers about the power of our union as we can,” said Brandon Brown, a VMO and a senior revenue agent with the Nebraska Department of Revenue. “We’re not just signing up new members, we’re getting ready to win at the negotiating table.”

NAPE negotiators are asking for wage increases that exceed inflation, paid parental leave, greater cash payouts for sick leave, early retirement insurance incentives, access to teleworking opportunities, bilingual premium pay, and more.

“The state remains critically short-staffed at many agencies and investments are needed to make sure that critical services continue uninterrupted,” said NAPE President Melissa Haynes, a social worker at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services in Fremont. “Our members worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and now is the time to invest in them.”

NAPE, which represents more than 8,000 government workers throughout Nebraska, is a rapidly growing AFSCME affiliate. It grew by 100% between August 2018 and August 2022, per NAPE, and counts one in five state workers as members. NAPE members didn’t just survive the coronavirus pandemic; the union thrived by working hard to enforce the terms of the contract, having one-on-one conversations with employees, and allowing for robust member participation in the negotiating process.

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