Public service workers keep our communities running and take pride in the essential work they do. But chronic understaffing is making their jobs harder than ever. To ensure our communities are safe, healthy and strong, we must staff the front lines.

Stories from the Front Lines

In the News

About Staff the Front Lines

Across the country, states, cities and towns are facing massive staffing shortages. Public service workers are on the job around the clock, caring for our communities and responding to emergencies. But they need help.

Through important legislation like the American Rescue Plan, the Biden Administration and the pro-worker majority in Congress provided direct relief to working families and secured historic investments for our communities that helped to stop the bleeding, close budget holes, and keep essential workers on the job.

But this legislation was only the first step on our path to recovery.

Pandemic job cuts and hiring freezes slashed the public service workforce. Today, the public service is still hundreds of thousands of jobs short from pre-pandemic levels. States, cities, and towns are not hiring fast enough to fill the lost jobs, which is putting a strain on the everyday heroes who keep our communities running.

To address this crisis, AFSCME members are organizing together to Staff the Front Lines — investing in our essential workers and recruiting qualified and passionate professionals to work in public service.

Hear From AFSCME Members

Wendy Smith

During the pandemic, there was so much need. People depended on us to get them tested and vaccinated. Even though we were overwhelmed and understaffed, I always reminded myself that we are the only access to health care that some people might have. I care about showing up for them.


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- Wendy Smith Community Health Nurse, AFSCME Local 558
Crosby Smith

I'm committed to taking care of my patients, that's what keeps me going. But the staffing crisis is taking its toll. Some of us are working 16 hours straight with no breaks. We want to do everything we can for our patients, and I know we could if we had enough people on the job.


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- Crosby Smith Care Provider Council 31 AFSCME Local 2645
Heather Burke

We're out in the field every day, working one-on-one with kids to ensure they're safe. But we're losing staff, which means kids in need are losing these crucial home visits. We can't allow them to be left behind. We need more people in the community doing this essential work.


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- Heather Burke Social Case Worker Council 18 AFSCME Local 3927
Sheron Mickens

When there is a crisis like COVID-19 or Hurricane Ian, the caseload increases, and the short staffing becomes even more of a challenge. We work overtime and weekends to try to assist because the need does not stop. It makes it hard to retain employees. Our communities deserve better.


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- Sheron Mickens Hearing Specialist Council 79 AFSCME Local 3076
Shirley Eby

As a corrections officer, you got to be a doctor, a psychiatrist, a social worker, a chaplain, and sometimes you got to be a momma. We do everything we can to help folks get through a difficult situation, but there's only so many of us. We need back up.


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- Shirley Eby Correctional Captain Council 17 AFSCME Local 2702