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Two Hundred-Plus County Employees Join AFSCME in Indy

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By David Patterson Explore the Issues Organizing Workers' Rights
Two Hundred-Plus County Employees Join AFSCME in Indy
Workers in the county clerk's office show off their AFSCME green. (Photos by Myra Pugh)

Some 230 Marion County employees in Indianapolis joined the AFSCME ranks, this summer, after newly elected officials granted their employees the right to bargain collectively.

Employees from the Marion County Clerk’s, Auditor’s, Assessor’s and Surveyor’s offices had worked without collective bargaining rights or raises for far too long. In fact, many have gone at least eight years without a raise. With newly elected, pro-labor Mayor Joe Hogsett taking office in 2015, county employees decided the time was right to form their union with AFSCME Council 962. AFSCME Council 962 organizers helped workers in the process by meeting with employees in each of the offices; identifying  supporters; answering  questions and concerns over meetings after work, at lunches and over phone calls and emails; and training key leaders. The result has been a success. A majority of the employees signed membership cards and each of the county offices voluntarily recognized AFSCME.

George FarleyGeorge Farley helped lead the organizing drive in the county Tax Assessor's office.

“It was exciting to organize our offices,” said George Farley, an accounting coordinator in the Assessor’s office and a member of the AFSCME bargaining team. “It was satisfying convincing people to join together and signing union cards, knowing that we are standing together to make our jobs better.”

Currently, the bargaining team is training and preparing to negotiate a first contract with the county, and AFSCME members are looking forward to founding their own local union.

“We’re looking forward to bringing everyone together into the local,” said Farley, a former UAW member. “So many of my co-workers don’t realize what it means to have a union. And that we, as members, are in control of it. We determine our leaders, our issues and how we spend our dues dollars. That’s going to be exciting to see.”