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AFSCME’s Next Wavers Sign up New Members for Missouri Home Care Union

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By Joe Lawrence Labor Movement Next Wave Organizing
AFSCME’s Next Wavers Sign up New Members for Missouri Home Care Union
Orlando Rivera, Jr. of DC 37 with home care attendant Kevon Short

AFSCME Next Wave members in St. Louis recently signed up 46 new members for the Missouri Home Care Union, AFSCME Council 72, which last year began negotiating its first contract.

The effort was part of an organizing training for member volunteers during the Next Wave National Advisory Committee meeting held recently.  Some 800 member volunteers will be trained in the weeks ahead as part of our union’s “50,000 Stronger” campaign to boost AFSCME’s membership ranks.

Our union’s Next Wave is made up of new and young AFSCME members throughout our nation.

“We’re standing on common ground,” said Next Waver Orlando Rivera, Jr., of Local 371, DC 37, in New York City. “It’s the same fight everywhere, and organizing members is what makes us all stronger.”

Missouri voters in 2008 overwhelmingly approved giving the state’s 13,000 Medicaid-funded home care attendants the freedom to bargain for improved client care and working conditions. Attendants voted in 2009 to form the Missouri Home Care Union. In 2012, a state Supreme Court decision established union freedom for home care attendants, ruling that the state must certify an election for 13,000 home care workers who voted overwhelmingly to be represented by the Missouri Home Care Union, a partnership between AFSCME Council 72 and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). And today, they are at the bargaining table as they continue to build union membership.

AFSCME’s “50,000 Stronger” is a new drive to sign up tens of thousands of new members and continue building power in places where workers are already represented by AFSCME.

Next Waver Todd Weyer said he understands the urgency of the new campaign.

“Big business and the politicians are focused on taking down working people,” said Weyer, a member of Minnesota Local 3168, Council 65. “Minnesota could be the next Wisconsin. What we did this week is an example of getting on the frontlines and getting it done.”

MacArthur Jackson, Jr., a new member of the Missouri Home Care Union, said it was “an honor” to be “part of a national force for workers,” adding, “It takes people getting involved to get it done, and an army of people can do it.”