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Strength, Tenacity, Resilience and the Power to Win

WHEREAS:

            Ten years ago, AFSCME International Convention delegates called on our leaders to develop a plan to revitalize the union.  That plan, Power to Win, created a blueprint to increase our strength and make our union more agile and innovative to meet the challenges ahead. New resources were dedicated to mobilize broader and deeper member activism, to strengthen our political and organizing programs and to build stronger councils and locals; and

WHEREAS:

            Through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and through well-funded and concerted attacks on our job rights, pay, retirement and health security, that plan has seen us through.  Corporate-backed and ALEC-fed politicians attacked collective bargaining rights and retirement security.  They redoubled efforts to outsource jobs, often to wealthy campaign contributors.  We used and adapted Power to Win to meet these difficult challenges; and

WHEREAS:

            We developed battleground campaigns.  We reinforced our councils, locals and retiree chapters. We strengthened our political power through our PEOPLE program.  We used social media to build stronger connections with our members and our allies. We took a new approach to combatting outsourcing.  We moved from defense to offense.  Power to Win remains the roadmap. It is making a difference; and

WHEREAS:

            It is making a difference in Wisconsin.  In January 2012, Rod McAllister, a youth counselor at the Lincoln Hills School was told to take off his AFSCME T-shirt, which didn’t violate the dress code. After stripping to his bare chest, McAllister told his supervisor he could go down to his union underwear if ordered to do so. Though administrators relented, 75 workers marched outside the school over the incident. Wisconsin locals, left with few tools after Act 10 other than direct action, are adapting and growing stronger; and

WHEREAS:

            It is making a difference in Detroit.  The bankruptcy filing in Detroit targeted pensions and was a big part of the assault on retirement security of all working Americans.  Solidarity and hard bargaining paid off.  Proposed pension benefit cuts that were initially between 26 and 34 percent, were limited to 4.5 percent; and

WHEREAS:

            It is making a difference in Pennsylvania.  After seeing labor union rights taken away in Michigan and Wisconsin, AFSCME members from across Pennsylvania, along with their brothers and sisters from other unions, came out in force to protest an all-out attack on workers’ rights.  This collective action has played a big role in keeping harmful legislation from reaching the floor of the state legislature; and

WHEREAS:

            It is making a difference in California.  Negotiations between AFSCME patient care/technical and service workers and the University of California dragged on for almost two years.  A strike by patient care workers in May 2013 was the largest in the country, involving as many as 18,800 workers. Safe staffing, runaway executive compensation and retirement security were the issues. On the eve of another strike in March, an agreement was reached by the service workers.  Three weeks later, a deal was struck by the patient care workers.  The historic four-year contracts will pull thousands of full-time employees out of poverty and begin to rectify staffing practices that put members and the people they serve at risk; and

WHEREAS:

            It is making a difference in Minnesota.  AFSCME members, along with other trade unionists in the state, achieved big victories during the state legislative session.  New state employee contracts, labor peace deals, unemployment aid for locked out workers and union rights for day care providers all passed into law. These successes came because a strong political program put pro-worker politicians in control of the state legislature and the governor’s office; and

WHEREAS:

            It is making a difference in Patterson, New Jersey.  In their negotiations, AFSCME and other city unions worked together with city officials to establish a new minimum annual wage of $25,000 to boost salaries that were so low that some full-time municipal employees qualified for public assistance.  Three union contracts now include clauses that boost full-time workers’ salaries to that minimum.  In the blue-collar unit in the Department of Public Works, 96 of its 189 members were below that threshold; and 


 

WHEREAS:

            It is making a difference in Vermont. In the largest union election in Vermont history and the largest union election win in the United States in 2013, home care workers voted overwhelmingly to join AFSCME. This followed a successful fight in the state legislature for legislation granting these workers bargaining rights.  In April they concluded their first contract negotiations with the state providing improved wages; and

WHEREAS:

            It is making a difference in the private sector.  In Wisconsin, AFSCME Council 40 organized the privately run Journey Mental Health Center in Madison. Across the country, AFSCME has organized thousands of private sector EMS workers and achieved contract settlements with improved working conditions and fair pay; and

WHEREAS:

            The Power to Win is working and is making a difference, but the battles are not over. In January, AFSCME leaders agreed that Power to Win is still the strongest plan to build the union and rebuild the middle class and identified four critical goals:

            1. Strengthening our foundation with local unions;

            2. Organizing the unorganized;

            3. Building political power; and

            4. Strengthening the union through coalitions and allies.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

            We will strengthen our foundation with powerful local unions and retiree chapters and sub-chapters. We must be a member-driven union and rely on activism and mobilization in addition to bargaining and servicing.  We will continue to develop our training and education programs and use our conferences and constituency groups to achieve these goals; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

            We will organize the unorganized with the goal of representing all public service workers.  We will organize internally and externally, in the public sector and strategically in the private sector – state by state and unit by unit; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

            We will build and use our political power. The threats to our jobs, our rights and the public services we perform will not abate until we elect pro-worker leaders and achieve majorities on city councils, in state houses and in the U.S. Congress.  Our PEOPLE program provides the vital funding to get this job done; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

            We will strengthen the union through coalitions and allies. We will build lasting partnerships with organizations that share our values. We will join together with like-minded groups in coalitions to achieve our mutual goals.  We are stronger together; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED:

            We will continue to evaluate the Power to Win.  We will measure our work against the

tangible Power To Win benchmarks to assess our progress toward these goals.  We will collect best practices from our affiliates and share them to help all get the power to win.

 

SUBMITTED BY:
INTERNATIONAL EXECUTIVE BOARD

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