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Saunders: ‘We have risen to the moment. But we have more work ahead of us’

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By AFSCME Staff ·
Tags: Convention

When the Janus v. AFSCME case was decided against us, our union’s opponents predicted our demise. But we thrived and grew thanks to AFSCME Strong. As the coronavirus pandemic roils our nation, AFSCME members are rising up to the challenge and serving their communities at great risk to themselves and their families. 

Since the 2018 convention, we have enjoyed huge wins at the ballot box and in the organizing trenches. AFSCME members are gearing up for an even bigger fight: the presidential election.  

AFSCME President Lee Saunders, in his keynote speech to the delegates of the AFSCME 44th International Convention, summarized our union’s journey in the past two years and called on delegates to prepare for the Nov. 3 elections and to continue the fight for racial justice. 

“AFSCME’s story over the last two years is one of fearlessness under fire, resilience in the face of adversity. Whether it was politically motivated attacks on our right to exist, or a global pandemic threatening the safety and stability of our communities, we have risen to the moment,” Saunders said. “But we have more work ahead of us.” 

Given AFSCME’s place in our nation’s civil rights struggle, Saunders said our union must step up even more to fight institutional racism that pervades our society – a fact that became clear in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. He reaffirmed that AFSCME supports the Black Lives Matter movement and urged AFSCME members to follow in the footsteps of the recently deceased civil rights icon, Georgia Rep. John Lewis.  

“Let our legacy be that we were agitators and disruptors. That we caused ‘good trouble,’ as John Lewis called it. That we picked up where he left off,” Saunders said. “That we, with our own rich civil rights history, helped repair America’s racial breach.”  

Watch the full keynote address here.

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