Union Momentum

40,000 California child care providers win collective bargaining, sparking the largest organizing campaign in the country: In September, members of Child Care Providers United (CCPU), a coalition of family child care providers across the state who are members of UDW/AFSCME Local 3930, SEIU Local 99 and SEIU Local 521, celebrated a historic win when California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill granting 40,000 child care providers the right to join a union and collectively bargain. This bill is the culmination of over 16 years of advocacy. With a seat at the table, child care providers, who are mostly women of color, will be able to negotiate for fair pay and benefits so that they can support their families, advocate for expanded access to care, especially for low-income families, and improve early childhood education for California’s next generation.

Nevada corrections officers and behavioral health workers choose AFSCME: Since Nevada expanded collective bargaining rights for state employees in June, corrections officers and workers who provide mental and behavioral health care services to their communities became the first and second state employee units to file with the Government Employee-Management Relations Board for recognition as members of AFSCME. Together, this represents hundreds of Nevada public service workers who are making the decision to join the union to improve their workplaces, their lives and their communities.

On All Fronts, Union Momentum Continues to Grow

There is a wave of pro-worker activism and organizing across the country. Americans in a wide range of professions – from journalists to grocery store workers, from nurses to behavioral health workers –are uniting for a seat at the table to level the playing field in an economy rigged to favor the wealthy and the well-connected. Since 2016, AFSCME has won more than 300 organizing fights and added thousands of members to our ranks. Not only is union support at a near 50-year high, nearly half of all Americans say they would join a union if given the choice.

“More Americans and public service workers are organizing in unions for a voice on the job because they see unions as the most effective vehicle to improve their workplaces, sustain their families and strengthen their communities,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “This grassroots action has fueled political momentum, with presidential candidates embracing unions with a fervor we have not seen in decades and with the introduction of landmark state and federal legislation giving public service workers a voice on the job and protecting their freedom to join unions. As we approach 2020, we are strong, and we are committed to ensuring that on Election Day we elect candidates who are serious about strengthening public services and workers’ rights.”

Public service workers have faced countless attacks on their freedom to organize, but they have shown that they will not quit on their co-workers or their communities and are driving new union growth from coast to coast:

Congress introduces landmark legislation to give workers more freedom to join unions: Following the lead of millions of workers who are organizing together, members of Congress introduced legislation on June 25 to make it easier for working people to join unions and improve their communities. The “Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act” would, for the first time, safeguard public sector workers’ rights to a seat at the table by setting a minimum nationwide standard of collective bargaining rights that states must provide. This bill marks a significant step forward in expanding the political and grassroots momentum behind unions after years of attacks on workers from right-wing special interests and the politicians who do their bidding.

20,000 Nevada state employees win collective bargaining: AFSCME members and public service workers were at the forefront of a successful effort to win collective bargaining for Nevada state employees. In June, Nevada’s governor signed into law the largest statewide expansion of collective bargaining in 16 years. More than 20,000 Nevada state employees will be able to organize with AFSCME, and will now have the freedom to negotiate over wages and a host of workplace issues that will improve services and benefit entire communities. The historic Nevada win comes on the heels of Delaware and Washington expanding collective bargaining rights for an additional 2,600 state employees.

2020 presidential candidates are embracing unions: Unions are taking center stage as presidential candidates gear up for 2020. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar joined the picket line with Stop & Shop workers in New England; Joe Biden and Tim Ryan featured union workers in their announcements; and Kamala Harris stood in solidarity with AFSCME members striking for equal pay and a fair wage and pulled out of a commencement speech at the University of California-Berkeley. At the AFSCME Public Service Forum, nearly the entire presidential field pledged to support federal legislation expanding collective bargaining for public service workers. Together, these actions represent a level of solidarity from elected officials in support of workers organizing that has not been seen in decades.

State employees in Illinois and Pennsylvania win strong contracts: In 2018, working people elected pro-worker governors in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, Maine, Nevada and Kansas – voting out anti-union extremists like Bruce Rauner, who brought the original suit that became Janus v. AFSCME, and Scott Walker, who notoriously gutted public employees’ collective bargaining rights. With Rauner gone, AFSCME Council 31, which represents nearly 40,000 Illinois public service workers, negotiated and just ratified a new contract that treats state employees with the respect and dignity that they deserve. And in Pennsylvania, AFSCME Council 13, which represents more than 40,000 Commonwealth employees, ratified a new contract.

Organizing for a voice on the job to make communities stronger and healthier: AFSCME is organizing emergency medical professionals and behavioral health workers across the country who are on the front lines of combating our country’s greatest health emergencies, from the opioid epidemic to mental health crises. Every day they work hard to provide quality care to patients suffering from addiction and mental health issues even as they themselves struggle with high caseloads, understaffing and poor wages. To tackle these problems, workers are organizing through AFSCME’s United We Heal campaign to help their clients get better and improve their communities. Over 1,500 behavioral health and substance abuse workers have formed unions with AFSCME since 2016. Read more stories here.