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Your Union-Made Vacation

Planning an adventure? Meet the AFSCME members who make it happen.

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By Olivia Sandbothe, Diane Williams & Pablo Ros General
Rick Patrizio

You can't get much closer to real-life paradise than the beaches of Maui. But even paradise has its dangers. It's lifeguard Rick Patrizio's job to make sure that beachgoers stay safe while they have fun in the sun.

"I always tell people to never turn your back on the ocean and never climb on slippery rocks. No matter how strong a swimmer you are, Mother Nature is stronger."

Patrizio is a lieutenant with Hawaii's Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division. He's also a chair for Unit 14 of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, AFSCME Local 152. The 700 members of the unit may spend their days at the beach, but that doesn't mean they get to relax.

"In our line of work, no business is good business," says Patrizio. "If you see us up and working, that means somebody is in trouble."

If you're headed to the beach this summer, don't forget to protect yourself from the sun and stay hydrated. Coppertone sunscreen and Rubbermaid coolers are both union-made in the United States.

The Pool

Alvin Williams

Alvin Williams, a lifeguard in Hallandale Beach, Florida, and member of AFSCME Local 2009 (Council 979), says he became a lifeguard more than 15 years ago and what he likes most about his job is "the satisfaction of knowing you may be the reason someone survives in the water."

He teaches survival skills to children who already know how to swim but may not know their limits. Several years ago, he saved a child who jumped into the deep end of a swimming pool not realizing what he was getting himself into. "I saw the look of panic in his eyes," Williams recalls. "I ran toward him and told him I was going to get him out of there."

To stay out of trouble, Williams advises children to always swim with a buddy and near a lifeguard stand. If they'll be out in the sun, they should also drink plenty of water to avoid muscle cramps.

Back to Nature

Edward Wileman

Can't swing a ticket to Hawaii? No problem. No matter where you live, you're probably not too far from some beautiful public land.

In central Pennsylvania, Edward Wileman of AFSCME Local 2245 is hard at work making sure that the great outdoors are accessible to the public. He's a maintenance supervisor in the Tuscarora State Forest, which covers more than 90,000 acres of rolling Appalachian wilderness.

Wileman's job is to make sure that more than 100 miles of trails and roads are clear and well-maintained for hikers, cyclists and horseback riders. "This is the place to come if you want to get back to nature," he says.

Even when he's not on the job, Wileman is passionate about the outdoors. He even visits local schools dressed as Smokey the Bear to teach kids about fire safety.

His advice to vacationers is to play it safe. "There's not a ton of dangerous wildlife, but we do have some rattlesnakes and bears," he says. "Be careful, because you're a visitor on their property."

Rattlesnakes aside, Tuscarora State Forest is a friendly place to visit. "If you see us, feel free to ask questions," Wileman says. "We're public employees and that's what we're here for."

Before you head into the wilderness, be sure to pack your Danner hiking boots and your Weber grill - both union-made in the USA. If you're looking for union-made hunting and fishing gear, the Union Sportmen's Alliance can help you find it. Visit unionsportsmen.org.

"We show transitionary animals," says Tory Ferraro, a senior principal preparator. "These are strange-looking big birds, dinosaurs that range from the size of a chicken to a four- or five-foot ostrich."

Rebecca Meah

A Day at the Museum

The school year is drawing to a close, but at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, members of AFSCME Local 1559 (DC 37) are preparing an educational experience for kids and adults alike. They're building the displays for an exhibit called "Dinosaurs Among Us," set to run through January 2017. The exhibit traces the evolutionary links between prehistoric giants and the birds we can see in our backyards today.

"We show transitionary animals," says Tory Ferraro, a senior principal preparator. "These are strange-looking big birds, dinosaurs that range from the size of a chicken to a four- or five-foot ostrich."

Teams of skilled museum preparators and assistants tend to every detail for an experience that brings dinosaurs to life. Rebecca Meah, a senior principal preparator, explains the process. "We spent months on molds and built steel skeletons that we coated in spray foam, layered on silicone and rubber and finished with hand-painted feathers."

These are only a few of the summer activities that are brought to you by union labor. Whether you're traveling far from home or just looking for a weekend outing, be on the lookout for your AFSCME sisters and brothers.

More AFSCME-Made Vacation Destinations

Florida: Vizcaya Museum and Gardens: This stunning Italianate mansion, built by a millionaire in 1916, was acquired by Miami-Dade County in the 1950s. AFSCME Local 199.

Michigan: Mackinac Island State Park: Stroll the beaches of Lake Superior and the charming downtown district from bike, horseback or on foot. MSEA/ AFSCME Local 5.

California: East Bay Regional Park District: A system of parks and nature preserves to hike among giant redwoods and take in stunning views of the San Francisco Bay and surrounding landscape. AFSCME Local 2428.

South Dakota: Dinosaur Park: Built by the Works Progress Administration in 1936, this reptilian roadside attraction is a fun stop on the way to Mt. Rushmore. AFSCME Local 1031.

Louisiana: Let a union sister or brother get you home safely after a night on Bourbon Street. New Orleans Cab Drivers for Justice/AFSCME Council 17.