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The Birth of a Main Street Movement

Every AFSCME member has the ability to make a difference during these challenging times.

By Pres. Gerald W. McEntee
Pres. McEntee
Encouraging a Movement | Pres. Gerald W. McEntee addressed attendees during the opening day of the 2011 Next Wave Conference. (Photo by Alex Jones)

AFSCME members are committed to public service. All of us share a core value, one that was held by the men and women who created our union during the most challenging days of the Great Depression. It’s an understanding that each of us has to take personal responsibility for making life better for those with whom we share our communities and country. Whether you work in a hospital or court house, whether you work on the road or in a prison, the work you do is special. It requires women and men with special talents to do it. And it shows in the willingness you demonstrate to get involved, to be active and to make a difference in big ways and small.

Get America Working
Across the country this year, our members are leading the fight against the unprecedented attacks that anti-worker legislators and governors have directed toward public employees. In more than a dozen states, our right to collective bargaining came under assault, as if public employees were responsible for the economic crisis created by Wall Street greed and hands-off regulators in Washington, DC. Scapegoating will not turn the nation’s economy around. Jobs will do that. That is why we urge Congress to swiftly pass President Obama’s American Jobs Act (see related story), to get America working again.

Main Street Movement
In state after state, AFSCME members have pulled together to find real solutions to our problems. You can read about several of them in this issue’s cover story. Our members are leading a new Main Street Movement that is standing up to the Wall Street financiers and the billionaires who think the economy should only work for them. We’re fighting for an economy that works for everyone.

That’s why in Wisconsin this August, Next Wavers were out with retirees mobilizing the votes to remove two anti-worker state senators. They also successfully protected three pro-worker senators who were targeted by the Wall Street forces for standing up for collective bargaining. Now, in Ohio, our members are engaged in the historic fight to overturn Senate Bill 5 on the ballot. The legislation they are voting on is part of a national effort to destroy the middle class by eliminating the right of workers to bargain for fair pay, benefits and working conditions. That’s why AFSCME members are mobilizing to get record numbers to the polls on Nov. 8. We need everyone in Ohio who cares about protecting the middle class to vote ‘NO’ on Issue 2.

Telling Our Side
AFSCME members are on the frontlines in every corner of the country, telling our side of the story to the media, canvassing neighbors, organizing rallies, speaking up in the community, and signing up co-workers for PEOPLE. You are lobbying, writing letters, tweeting and posting stories of our commitment on Facebook. You are doing what you have always done, standing up, proud and powerful, and making our union stronger in the struggle.

Fifty years ago, Pres. John F. Kennedy inspired Americans in all walks of life to become more active in public life. He created programs like the Peace Corps and VISTA to provide new avenues where Americans could serve. President Kennedy noted that “one person can make a difference and every person should try.” Just as it was true a half century ago, it remains true today. Every AFSCME member has the ability to make a difference during these challenging times. And it’s up to each of us to try.

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