AFSCME.org Press Release Feed http://www.afscme.org/rss/press-releases AFSCME.org Press Releases Tue, 3 May 2011 05:00:00 +0000 AMPS en hourly 1 Public Support for Unions Continues to Surge http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/public-support-for-unions-continues-to-surge Wed, 28 Aug 2019 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/public-support-for-unions-continues-to-surge As we approach Labor Day weekend, a new Gallup poll released today reveals public support for labor unions reaching 64%—a near 50-year high. This positive surge in approval demonstrates how effective unions have been in shifting the conversation and educating working people about the value and benefits of strong unions to their families and communities. It’s no wonder that nearly half of non-unionized workers would join a union if given the opportunity. 

With support for unions on the rise; with presidential candidates embracing unions; and with working people across the country taking collective action in their workplaces, it’s more important than ever that our elected representatives give people more freedom to join unions.

In response to the Gallup Poll, AFSCME President Lee Saunders said, “Despite relentless anti-union attacks from wealthy corporations, more and more people recognize that unions are a force for progress and national strength, improving the lives of all working families and their communities. The labor movement has a powerful wind at its back. And we will carry this momentum into new organizing campaigns and our work in the 2020 elections.”

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Permanent Authorization of 9/11 Victim Fund a Major Victory for First Responders, Public Service Workers http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/permanent-authorization-of-9-11-victim-fund-a-major-victory-for-first-responders-public-service-workers Tue, 23 Jul 2019 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/permanent-authorization-of-9-11-victim-fund-a-major-victory-for-first-responders-public-service-workers AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement after Senate passage of the Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act. The bipartisan legislation ensures that the following groups receive full compensation from the fund: first responders, workers injured by toxins during the rescue and clean-up effort who developed certified 9/11 illnesses, and family survivors of these fallen heroes:

“On September 11, 2001, first responders answered the call to protect their neighbors. In the aftermath, brave public service workers of all kinds spent months healing and rebuilding their communities. In doing so, they were exposed to toxins that have led to debilitating illnesses and even death.

“It is indefensible that these men and women should receive anything less than the full compensation they deserve for the sacrifice they have made. Just as we have pledged to never forget those who died on that tragic day, we must not abandon those who showed selfless heroism in the rescue and recovery efforts.

“AFSCME applauds Congress for the bipartisan effort to pass this legislation, preventing this critical program from expiring.”

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AFSCME President Lee Saunders on Impending Scalia Nomination http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscme-president-lee-saunders-on-impending-scalia-nomination Fri, 19 Jul 2019 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscme-president-lee-saunders-on-impending-scalia-nomination AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding President Trump's plan to nominate Eugene Scalia to Secretary of Labor: 

“Working people need a labor secretary who has their backs.

“From completing a fiduciary rule that protects retirement savings, to making more workers eligible for overtime pay, to establishing a workplace violence safety and health standard, the Labor Department can move an agenda that would make a powerful difference in the lives of millions of working families.

“It remains to be seen, however, if Eugene Scalia would demonstrate this kind of leadership. His record, both in private law practice and as the Labor Department's top attorney, indicates support for unchecked corporate power and neglect of the welfare of working people.

“AFSCME members will be watching closely during his confirmation hearing to see if he would lead the Labor Department in a way that is consistent with its mission.”

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Raising the Minimum Wage Will Strengthen the Working Class http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/raising-the-minimum-wage-will-strengthen-the-working-class Thu, 18 Jul 2019 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/raising-the-minimum-wage-will-strengthen-the-working-class In response to the passage of the Raise the Wage Act, AFSCME President Lee Saunders released the following statement. This legislation will raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and eliminate the exploitative tipped minimum wage:

“This legislation is a long time coming. The federal minimum wage has stayed flat for the last decade, while corporate profits and CEO compensation have skyrocketed. Raising the wage will make a huge difference in the lives of millions of our hardest-working people, many of whom are juggling multiple jobs just to keep their heads above water.

“A $15 minimum wage will reduce inequality and strengthen our communities, lifting families out of poverty and putting upward pressure on wages for everyone. Absolutely everyone working full-time should be able to provide the basic necessities – food, housing, health care and more – that their families need to survive.”

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Repeal of 40% Tax on High-Cost Health Benefits Vital to Improving Health Care http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/repeal-of-40-percent-tax-on-high-cost-health-benefits-vital-to-improving-health-care Wed, 17 Jul 2019 16:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/repeal-of-40-percent-tax-on-high-cost-health-benefits-vital-to-improving-health-care Today, the House voted with bipartisan support to pass H.R. 748, the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2019, sponsored by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Connecticut), which repeals the burdensome 40% tax on employer sponsored high-quality worker and retiree health benefits. In response, AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement:

“We applaud the House on voting to repeal this regressive health tax. Although this tax does not take effect for another 2 1/2 years, it is already forcing employers to reduce worker and retiree health benefits – raising medical copays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket health expenses. It is also hurting AFSCME members and public service workers who are negotiating contracts that will extend into or beyond 2022. Working families are struggling to afford health care and millions still live without coverage. Congress needs to be working on solutions to bring down costs, not raise them. It is urgent that the Senate act swiftly to repeal this 40% health tax.”

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Former Vice President Joe Biden to Attend AFSCME Public Service Forum in Las Vegas http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/former-vice-president-joe-biden-to-attend-afscme-public-service-forum-in-las-vegas Wed, 17 Jul 2019 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/former-vice-president-joe-biden-to-attend-afscme-public-service-forum-in-las-vegas On Saturday, Aug. 3, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) will host the 2020 Public Service Forum, where presidential candidates will answer questions from AFSCME public service workers as well as from HuffPost Washington Bureau Chief Amanda Terkel and The Nevada Independent Editor Jon Ralston.

Former Vice President Joe Biden will join at least 17 other presidential candidates who are expected to participate, including Sen. Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Gov. Steve Bullock, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Rep. John Delaney, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Kamala Harris, Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Seth Moulton, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Rep. Tim Ryan, Sen. Bernie Sanders, business leader and philanthropist Tom Steyer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and author Marianne Williamson. The 2020 Public Service Forum comes on the heels of the second Democratic primary debate, which will be held July 30-31.

America’s public service workers will make their voices heard in this election. As they dedicate their lives to making our communities stronger, safer and healthier, they have a unique perspective into solving the problems Americans face every day. Whether they’re responding to emergency calls, driving our children to school, caring for our most vulnerable, keeping our streets clean or doing any of the hundreds of jobs AFSCME members perform every day, people in public service deserve respect for their work and to have a voice on the job.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders: “We’re excited to see so many candidates embrace unions and public service workers who dedicate their lives to empowering their communities. To AFSCME members, public service isn’t just a job, it’s a calling. In this forum, AFSCME members want to hear candidates discuss their specific plans to invest in public services and to give working people a seat at the table by making it easier to join a union. Candidates should lay out a vision for unrigging the rules of our economy and restoring power to working people.”

WHO:  At least 18 presidential candidates are expected, including former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker, Gov. Steve Bullock, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Rep. John Delaney, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Kamala Harris, Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Seth Moulton, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Rep. Tim Ryan, Sen. Bernie Sanders, business leader and philanthropist Tom Steyer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and author Marianne Williamson.

Moderated by:

  • Amanda Terkel, HuffPost Washington Bureau chief
  • Jon Ralston, The Nevada Independent editor

AFSCME Members  

WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019 at 9:00am

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Pete Buttigieg, Steve Bullock to Attend AFSCME Presidential Forum in Las Vegas http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/pete-buttigieg-steve-bullock-to-attend-afscme-presidential-forum-in-las-vegas Mon, 15 Jul 2019 15:14:38 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/pete-buttigieg-steve-bullock-to-attend-afscme-presidential-forum-in-las-vegas On Saturday, Aug. 3, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) will host the 2020 Public Service Forum, where presidential candidates will answer questions from AFSCME public service workers as well as from HuffPost Washington Bureau Chief Amanda Terkel and The Nevada Independent Editor Jon Ralston.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Gov. Steve Bullock join at least 15 other presidential candidates who are expected to participate, including Sen. Cory Booker, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Rep. John Delaney, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Kamala Harris, Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Seth Moulton, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Rep. Tim Ryan, Sen. Bernie Sanders, business leader and philanthropist Tom Steyer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and author Marianne Williamson. The 2020 Public Service Forum comes on the heels of the second Democratic primary debate, which will be held July 30-31. 

America’s public service workers will make their voices heard in this election. As they dedicate their lives to making our communities stronger, safer and healthier, they have a unique perspective into solving the problems Americans face every day. Whether they’re responding to emergency calls, driving our children to school, caring for our most vulnerable, keeping our streets clean, or doing any of the hundreds of jobs AFSCME members perform every day, people in public service deserve respect for their work and to have a voice on the job.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders: “We’re excited to see so many candidates embrace unions and public service workers who dedicate their lives to empowering their communities. To AFSCME members, public service isn’t just a job, it’s a calling. In this forum, AFSCME members want to hear candidates discuss their specific plans to invest in public services and to give working people a seat at the table by making it easier to join a union. Candidates should lay out a vision for unrigging the rules of our economy and restoring power to working people.”

WHO:  At least 17 presidential candidates are expected, including Sen. Cory Booker, Gov. Steve Bullock, mayor Pete Buttigieg, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Rep. John Delaney, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Kamala Harris, Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Seth Moulton, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Rep. Tim Ryan, Sen. Bernie Sanders, business leader and philanthropist Tom Steyer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and author Marianne Williamson.

Moderated by:

  • Amanda Terkel, HuffPost Washington Bureau chief
  • Jon Ralston, The Nevada Independent editor

AFSCME Members  

WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019 at 9:00am

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New Bill of Rights Promises to Give Domestic Workers the Respect They Deserve http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/new-bill-of-rights-promises-to-give-domestic-workers-the-respect-they-deserve Mon, 15 Jul 2019 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/new-bill-of-rights-promises-to-give-domestic-workers-the-respect-they-deserve AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement in support of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Act introduced today by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington):

“Domestic workers perform some of society’s most important work – caring for our children, people with disabilities and the elderly – and for that, they deserve respect. This bill would close legal loopholes that deny domestic workers basic federal labor and civil rights protections. It would also make job conditions safer and fairer for a workforce that is primarily made up of women, people of color and immigrants. AFSCME is proud to support this legislation, and we will keep fighting in solidarity with our partners and allies until home care providers, child care workers and house cleaners are treated with the dignity they deserve.”

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AFSCME President Lee Saunders on Acosta Resignation http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscme-president-lee-saunders-on-acosta-resignation Fri, 12 Jul 2019 20:13:36 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscme-president-lee-saunders-on-acosta-resignation AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement in response to the resignation of Alex Acosta as secretary of Labor:

“Secretary Acosta’s resignation was long overdue. Working people need a strong advocate at the Labor Department, someone who shares their values and priorities, someone who will fight for their rights and freedoms. It’s time for President Trump to finally nominate such a person as the next labor secretary.

“Acting Secretary Patrick Pizzella has a long history of hostility to workers’ rights and to unions. We are concerned by his appointment as acting secretary and hope his tenure is very brief. Pizzella had an abysmal, anti-worker track record during his time at the Federal Labor Relations Authority. In addition, his work with corrupt and disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff to undermine minimum wage protections ought to be disqualifying.

“The next labor secretary should champion issues that protect workers and ensure they are paid fairly for the work they do. That includes reviving a fiduciary rule, finalizing a more reasonable threshold under which employees are automatically eligible for overtime pay, and establishing a workplace violence safety and health standard.”

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Bill Would Provide Federal Employees Time to Care for Children, Family Members http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/bill-would-provide-federal-employees-time-to-care-for-children-family-members Fri, 12 Jul 2019 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/bill-would-provide-federal-employees-time-to-care-for-children-family-members AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement in support of the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act, which passed the House of Representatives today as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act was introduced by New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney. This legislation would, for the first time, grant federal employees 12 weeks of paid family medical leave:

"Federal employees work every single day to ensure that our communities are safe and healthy. For their commitment and tireless service to the nation, they deserve the ability to keep their families strong. This legislation allows federal workers to take time off from work to care for a newborn child or a sick loved one without sacrificing the pay they need to sustain their families. These are freedoms every worker should enjoy. This bill will raise the bar for other employers, including in the private sector, creating a pathway to give more working families the level playing field they deserve.”

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AFSCME to Host 2020 Public Service Forum Moderated by HuffPost http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscme-to-host-2020-public-service-forum Thu, 11 Jul 2019 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscme-to-host-2020-public-service-forum On Saturday, Aug. 3, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) will host the 2020 Public Service Forum, where presidential candidates will answer questions from AFSCME public service workers as well as from HuffPost Washington Bureau Chief Amanda Terkel and The Nevada Independent Editor Jon Ralston. The event will be livestreamed by HuffPost

America’s public service workers will make their voices heard in this election. As they dedicate their lives to making our communities stronger, safer, and healthier, they have a unique perspective into solving the problems Americans face every day. Whether they’re responding to emergency calls, driving our children to school, caring for our most vulnerable, keeping our streets clean, or doing any of the hundreds of jobs AFSCME members perform every day, people in public service deserve respect for their work and to have a voice on the job. 

At least 15 presidential candidates are expected, including Sen. Cory Booker, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Rep. John Delaney, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Kamala Harris, Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Seth Moulton, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Rep. Tim Ryan, Sen. Bernie Sanders, business leader and philanthropist Tom Steyer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and author Marianne Williamson. The 2020 Public Service Forum comes on the heels of the second Democratic primary debate, which will be held July 30-31.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders: “Public service workers dedicate their lives to empowering their communities. And when they come together in a union, they win a voice on the job that lifts up their families and makes their communities even stronger. In this forum, AFSCME members want to hear candidates discuss their specific plans to invest in public services and to give working people a seat at the table by making it easier to join a union. Candidates should lay out a vision for unrigging the rules of our economy and restoring power to working people.”

HuffPost Washington Bureau Chief Amanda Terkel: “I could not be more excited to moderate this forum dedicated to issues critical to working people – issues at the core of HuffPost’s daily coverage. And we’re honored that the legendary Jon Ralston will be joining us on stage to question the candidates.”

The Nevada Independent Editor Jon Ralston: “I'm thrilled to be a part of this forum in Nevada. It's an honor to be with one of Washington's best journalists and to interview the candidates on topics of great interest to Nevadans and voters everywhere.”

WHO:  At least 15 presidential candidates are expected, including Sen. Cory Booker, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Rep. John Delaney, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Kamala Harris, Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Seth Moulton, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Rep. Tim Ryan, Sen. Bernie Sanders, business leader and philanthropist Tom Steyer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and author Marianne Williamson.  

Moderated by:

  • Amanda Terkel, HuffPost Washington Bureau chief
  • Jon Ralston, The Nevada Independent editor

AFSCME Members

WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019 at 9:00am

*** Media who wish to attend must RSVP by July 26th to Nicky Vogt (nicole@npstrategygroup.com) *** 

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AFSCME Knocks Trump Administration’s Continued Efforts To Eliminate Care For Millions of Americans http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscme-knocks-trump-administrations-continued-efforts-to-eliminate-care-for-millions-of-americans Tue, 09 Jul 2019 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscme-knocks-trump-administrations-continued-efforts-to-eliminate-care-for-millions-of-americans Today, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in the high-profile lawsuit that threatens to kick millions of Americans off their health care, Texas v. Azar. In response, AFSCME President Lee Saunders released the following statement:

“Americans have spoken decisively at the ballot box: they want to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and give more people access to the health care they need. But the Trump administration and its political allies shamefully continue to use the courts to jeopardize the health care of millions of people. This case threatens to roll back the progress we’ve made, returning to a time when insurance companies could impose lifetime caps and discriminate against women, older Americans and people with preexisting conditions. Health care is a right and not a privilege. It’s time to protect and expand that right for everyone.”

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Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act Gives Workers More Freedom to Join Unions http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/public-service-freedom-to-negotiate-act-gives-workers-more-freedom-to-join-unions Tue, 25 Jun 2019 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/public-service-freedom-to-negotiate-act-gives-workers-more-freedom-to-join-unions The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) praised the introduction of the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act (H.R. 3463 and S. 1970), which would safeguard public sector workers’ right to a seat at the table by setting a minimum nationwide standard of collective bargaining rights that states must provide. The bill was introduced today in the House of Representatives by Pennsylvania Rep. Matt Cartwright and in the U.S. Senate by Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono.

Among other pro-worker provisions, the bill strives to give public sector workers the same basic rights and freedoms enjoyed by workers in the private sector. The legislation will ensure that the dedicated public employees working every day to improve their communities have collective bargaining rights, including the rights to:

  • Join together in a union selected by a majority of employees;
  • Collectively bargain over wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment;
  • Access dispute resolution mechanisms (such as mediation or arbitration);
  • Use voluntary payroll deduction for union dues;
  • Engage in other concerted activities related to collective bargaining and mutual aid;
  • Not have their union be subject to rigged recertification elections; and
  • Sue in court to enforce their labor rights.

The introduction of this bill is the latest attempt to unrig a system that favors the wealthy over working people. It marks another big step forward in the growing political and grassroots momentum behind unions after years of attacks on workers from right-wing special interests and politicians.

“America’s workers have withstood attack after attack on their right to organize. With renewed energy they are organizing in unions to reclaim their power,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “This legislation is about defending the freedom of public sector employees to form and join unions if they choose to do so. Public service workers show up every day to make our communities healthier, safer and stronger. It’s time for elected officials to show up for them and give them the respect and voice on the job they deserve to negotiate for themselves and their communities.” 

Across the country, behavioral health workers, emergency medical technicians, teachers and more are demanding unions because of the value and protections they provide for workers. Union members earn higher wages and are more likely to have employer-provided health care, pensions and benefits such as paid sick and family leave. Unions also set standards that benefit all workers, union and nonunion alike.

For women and people of color, unions provide the best vehicle to combat discrimination in the workplace and address the unjust racial and gender pay gap. African American union members earn 19% more – and Latino union workers 28% more – than their nonunion counterparts. In some sectors the difference is even greater. Women who are members of a union earn 21% more than their nonunion counterparts. 

The introduction of the bill follows recent news from Nevada, where 20,000 state employees won the freedom to collectively bargain for wages and improvements on the job such as workplace safety. The Nevada collective bargaining bill, which was signed into law on June 12 by Gov. Steve Sisolak, is the largest statewide expansion of collective bargaining for state workers in 16 years anywhere in the country.

With public support for unions at a 15-year high; with presidential candidates embracing unions; and with working people across the country taking collective action in their workplaces to join unions, it’s clear that Americans are looking to unions as the most effective vehicle to level the playing field for working people in an economy that favors the wealthy.

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Universal Child Care Bill Will Help Hardworking Families http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/universal-child-care-bill-will-help-hardworking-families Tue, 18 Jun 2019 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/universal-child-care-bill-will-help-hardworking-families AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement in support of the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act, which was introduced today by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Rep. Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico):

“It’s already hard enough for working families to make ends meet, let alone afford the extraordinary cost of quality child care. The plan by Senator Warren and Congresswoman Haaland provides much-needed relief to millions of hardworking families who are falling behind in an economy that overwhelmingly favors the wealthy. It’s time to ensure that all families have access to affordable child care and that providers of that care are paid a fair wage for the important work they do.”

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Nevada Governor Signs ‘Historic’ Union Law to Help 20,000 State Workers http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/nevada-governor-signs-historic-union-law-to-help-20000-state-workers Wed, 12 Jun 2019 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/nevada-governor-signs-historic-union-law-to-help-20000-state-workers AFSCME President Lee Saunders and AFSCME Local 4041 President Harry Schiffman issued the following statements after Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed into law SB 135, a bill expanding collective bargaining rights to more than 20,000 Nevada state employees. The bill is the largest expansion of collective bargaining rights for state workers in 16 years.  

“This bill is about respect for state employees who make their communities stronger every day,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “By signing this bill, Governor Sisolak demonstrates his understanding of the importance of giving working people a seat at the table and the voice on the job they deserve. Americans are looking for an answer to a rigged economy that favors the wealthy, and it’s clear that they are turning to unions in growing numbers. It is time to make it easier all across the country for working people to join in strong unions.”

“This is a historic day for state employees and all Nevadans, as collective bargaining rights will mean a voice on the job to make meaningful changes in our workplaces and communities,” said Harry Schiffman, president of AFSCME Local 4041. “We are grateful to Senator David Parks, who has worked alongside state employees for many years to get us to this point, and thank the leadership in both the State Senate and Assembly for their support of Nevada state employees.” 

Today marks yet another massive win for working people and the labor movement as union momentum continues to grow across the country. With the freedom to negotiate, Nevada state employees – including corrections officers, nurses, Department of Transportation workers and caretakers – can now use their collective voice to negotiate a host of workplace issues, among them wages, paid leave and ways to improve safety on the job.  

Across the country, more workers are coming together to demand a level playing field through unions. Grocery store workers, teachers, public service workers, journalists and hotel and food service workers are joining in a wave of activism and new organizing drives. Unions are enjoying their highest level of public support in 15 years and presidential candidates have embraced unions at a level not seen in years. It is clear that unions are seeing increasing grassroots and political momentum, and AFSCME will continue to pursue a growth agenda in Nevada and across the country to strengthen public services and give public service workers the respect they deserve.

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Union Momentum Grows: 20,000 Nevada State Employees to Gain Collective Bargaining Rights http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/union-momentum-grows-20000-nevada-state-employees-to-gain-collective-bargaining-rights Mon, 03 Jun 2019 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/union-momentum-grows-20000-nevada-state-employees-to-gain-collective-bargaining-rights Public service workers across the country lauded the passage of Nevada Senate Bill 135, which expands collective bargaining rights to over 20,000 Nevada state employees – the largest statewide expansion of collective bargaining rights in 16 years. The bill, expected to be signed into law by Gov. Steve Sisolak, comes at a time when unions are experiencing the highest level of public support in more than a decade.

With their new freedom to negotiate, Nevada state employees can use their collective voice to negotiate a host of workplace issues, among them wages, paid leave and ways to improve safety on the job.

“Twenty thousand public service workers in Nevada have now added their voices to the growing chorus of Americans who understand that the freedom to join strong unions is needed more than ever to unrig the system by putting working people above corporate interests, fix our democracy and strengthen our communities across the country,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “Public service workers in Nevada and everywhere else across the country are everyday heroes. The work they do is hard and largely unsung, and for that they deserve respect. We will continue to fight for similar progress around the country, organizing to improve public services that strengthen communities, and win greater freedom for public service workers to join in strong unions.”

AFSCME will continue to organize Nevada state workers into the AFSCME family, building more power to lift up all working people and benefit the entire Silver State.

With public support for unions at a 15-year high; with presidential candidates embracing unions; and with working people across the country taking collective action in their workplaces to join unions, it’s clear that Americans are eager for pro-worker solutions to level the playing field for working people in an economy that favors the wealthy.

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Consumers, Health Leaders and Allies Must Join Forces to Ensure Consumer Interests are Reflected in National Health Care Debate, Says New National Alliance http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/consumers-health-leaders-and-allies-must-join-forces-to-ensure-consumer-interests-are-reflected-in-national-health-care-debate-says-new-national-alliance Tue, 14 May 2019 16:31:08 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/consumers-health-leaders-and-allies-must-join-forces-to-ensure-consumer-interests-are-reflected-in-national-health-care-debate-says-new-national-alliance A newly formed alliance that launched today wants to ensure that the economic incentives of the health care system encourage affordable, high-quality health care for all of America’s families.

Consumers First: The Alliance to Make the Health Care System Work for Everyone, brings together powerful interests from consumers, employers, children, labor, and primary care providers. The Steering Committee of the Coalition consists of the following seven national organizations:

  • Families USA
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • American Benefits Council
  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
  • American Federation of Teachers
  • First Focus
  • Pacific Business Group on Health

Consumers First aims to uproot the fundamental economic distortions in the health care system that drive high costs and low-quality care for America’s families. The alliance will work to educate Congress, the federal government and state policymakers about critical changes that are needed immediately to ensure the health care system provides higher-value care to the people it serves.

In addition, Consumers First has released a Call to Action paper.

The paper asks allies to join forces to address the significant economic distortions in the health care payment and delivery system that drive high costs and low-quality care. The call to action outlines six policy focus areas in the health care system that need to be addressed immediately:

  • High and rising health care prices
  • Distortions created by provider payment systems, including Medicare
  • Increased health care industry consolidation
  • Federal tax policy for nonprofit health care Institutions and insurance plans
  • Flawed health care workforce policy
  • Inadequate access to data and lack of transparency

One of Consumers First’s next steps will be to finalize a congressional and administrative policy agenda on the key changes that are needed in health care.

“While our country has made significant gains in health care coverage in the last several decades, our health care system remains rife with inefficiencies and economic distortions that are hurting every day families. Until we change the incentives that drive low-quality, high-cost care, consumers will continue to be left behind. We have convened the Consumers First alliance and issued this paper to ensure that the economic incentives of the health care system are fundamentally changed so that families can always receive affordable, high-quality health care. This effort is not about tinkering around the edges. Over time, we aim to uproot the economic distortions that are hurting families, and drive to a more efficient, rational payment and delivery systems that puts the needs of consumers first,” said Frederick Isasi, Executive Director, Families USA.

“Affordable, high-quality healthcare is entirely possible for all Americans but will require significant changes in the U.S. health system. We have lost over 10 years of wage growth to health care cost inflation and have not seen needed gains in quality or patient outcomes. We are paying the highest prices in the world for highly variable care. We all deserve better and PBGH’s Members are prepared to be engaged and proactive to achieve better care at lower costs. PBGH is excited to partner with Families USA on a shared agenda for healthcare quality and affordability that places the health and financial well-being of employees and families first. Let’s get moving!” said Elizabeth Mitchell, President & CEO, Pacific Business Group on Health.

“This Alliance was created because for too many American families, access to care is uneven, inconsistent and dependent on multiple variables.  While most First-World countries have managed to offer people basic healthcare, here in the U.S. – the wealthiest country in the world – patients are often caught in a maze of arbitrary regulations, payment systems and prices that vary widely.

Our members, who are nurses and healthcare professionals, see these inequities up-close understand all too well the need for greater transparency, oversight and accountability in our healthcare delivery system. But, basic health care is a right human right that should be available to all; not a privilege reserved for the wealthy few. What we need is a sea change in the drivers of our health care system so that working families – indeed all families – can access the care they need and deserve,” said Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers.

“Every single day, AFSCME health care workers see how the current system fails to provide Americans with the care they deserve. The high cost of health care and prescription drugs, coupled with decades of stagnant wages, places millions of Americans in a position where they must choose between paying for basic necessities and life-saving medications. By joining Consumers First, AFSCME will ensure that frontline health care workers are at the table as we seek to expand access to quality health care for all,” said Lee Saunders, President, AFSCME.

“Large employers, like the members of the American Benefits Council, provide the high-value, high-quality health coverage that people like. But these employer plan sponsors are consumers, too, and the high costs that plague our health care system – brought about by flawed policies and backwards incentives – are simply untenable. There is much that can be accomplished through cooperation and consensus, which is why we are proud to join with the other members of Consumers First to find practical solutions,” said James A. Klein, President, American Benefits Council.

“Children are among the most vulnerable consumers of healthcare and their needs are often neglected. Children need special care, like pediatric surgeons, emergency medications like EpiPens and other items that often don’t receive the attention they deserve. It’s time to put consumers first, and children must be at the front of the line,” said Bruce Lesley, President, First Focus on Children.

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AFSCME Blasts Trump Administration’s ‘Vicious Attack’ on Home Care Workers’ Freedoms http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscme-blasts-trump-administrations-vicious-attack-on-home-care-workers-freedoms Thu, 02 May 2019 16:11:44 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscme-blasts-trump-administrations-vicious-attack-on-home-care-workers-freedoms The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a rule change that prohibits home care workers from making any automatic deductions – including union dues and health care premiums – from their Medicaid-funded paychecks. In response, AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement:

“Home care workers work incredibly hard, caring for loved ones and the most vulnerable people in our society. They deserve respect for the vital jobs they do. Instead, this anti-worker administration is attacking their right to organize and enjoy basic benefits afforded to other workers, such as health and dental insurance, which will hurt them and the people they care for. This is a vicious, outrageous attack against their freedoms, and AFSCME members across the country will stand together with home care workers in this fight.”

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AFSCME Launches Interactive Seven-Figure Campaign to Engage Young People of Color Ahead of 2020 Election http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscme-launches-interactive-seven-figure-campaign-to-engage-young-people-of-color-ahead-of-2020-election Wed, 17 Apr 2019 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscme-launches-interactive-seven-figure-campaign-to-engage-young-people-of-color-ahead-of-2020-election The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) today launched “I AM – Be the Change,” a bold effort to engage young African Americans and Latinos to answer the call of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the 1,300 Memphis sanitation workers to be the change in their communities and fight for social and economic justice.

I AM video

Watch AFSCME President Lee Saunders Announce “I AM - Be the Change”

“I AM – Be the Change” builds on the groundswell of activism fueled by the I AM 2018 program, which led thousands of Americans in honoring the 50th anniversary of the historic 1968 Memphis Sanitation Worker Strike and the assassination of Dr. King. Through a national moment of silence, youth town halls, activist trainings and a march on Memphis uniting thousands of civil, faith and labor leaders and advocates, communities across the country committed to voting in the midterm elections and continuing Dr. King’s and the sanitation workers’ struggle for equal treatment, fair wages, and a voice on the job.

“I AM – Be the Change” seeks to expand on the successes of 2018, when voters elected a pro-worker majority in the House of Representatives, seven pro-worker governors and more pro-worker state legislators than at any time in almost a decade. The initiative will keep young people engaged by highlighting issues such as excessive student loan debt, lack of affordable housing and lack of good-paying jobs.

“‘I AM – Be the Change’ is meant to inspire young people of color to take action online and offline to drive change in their communities,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “We intend to create a year-round organizing presence in disenfranchised communities that are too often ignored after Election Day and to inspire black and Latino youth to reclaim Dr. King’s and the sanitation workers’ fight for civil rights and workers’ rights as their own.”

Motivated to reverse the declining voter participation rates among black and Latino voters, AFSCME’s I AM program is spearheading the effort in 2020 and beyond to continually engage and mobilize young people of color.

To open a conversation on the issues affecting the next generation, I AM will use Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to empower young people with the resources they need to stay politically engaged past Election Day. Additionally, AFSCME will build an online hub for civic and economic empowerment where community members can learn about the challenges facing working people, how to mobilize their neighbors and how to hold elected officials accountable – ensuring that organizing at the local level is led by those who know their communities the best.

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AFSCME Endorses Key Legislation that Would Provide Student Debt Relief to Millions of Public Service Workers http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscme-endorses-key-legislation-that-would-provide-student-debt-relief-to-millions-of-public-service-workers Thu, 11 Apr 2019 11:18:58 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscme-endorses-key-legislation-that-would-provide-student-debt-relief-to-millions-of-public-service-workers AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement in support of the “What You Can Do For Your Country Act of 2019,” which was introduced today by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Tim Kaine of Virginia. This legislation would fix transparency issues and expand eligibility in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to ensure that public service workers who make their communities safer, stronger and healthier every day are actually receiving the relief they were promised: 

“The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program was started to provide student loan debt relief to public service workers who dedicate their careers to bettering their communities. Instead, the program has left millions of workers without a path to forgiveness, benefiting less than 1% of all public service workers who have applied. That’s why AFSCME is proud to endorse the ‘What You Can Do For Your Country Act of 2019,’ which would make eligibility requirements transparent, streamline the application process and close loopholes to give public service workers and their families a fair chance to get ahead. No one should have to take on crippling student loan debt to access the opportunities that come with higher education.”

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AFSCME’s Saunders: ‘Anniversary of Dr. King’s Death is a Call to Action on Civil Rights’ http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscmes-saunders-anniversary-of-dr-kings-death-is-a-call-to-action-on-civil-rights Thu, 04 Apr 2019 08:10:25 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscmes-saunders-anniversary-of-dr-kings-death-is-a-call-to-action-on-civil-rights One year after leading thousands of labor and civil rights advocates to Memphis, Tennessee, as part of the union’s I AM 2018 initiative, AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the 51st anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was shot and killed in Memphis where he was helping 1,300 AFSCME Local 1733 sanitation workers strike under the iconic slogan “I AM A MAN”: 

The anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s death is a call for action and a potent reminder that workers’ rights and civil rights are inextricably linked. Dignity, fair wages and a voice on the job. AFSCME will continue the I AM initiative to fight for dignity for all workers, a voice on the job and an end to discrimination. Dr. King’s values are AFSCME’s values.”

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‘Workers chose to stick with their union’: AFSCME Posts Strong Membership Numbers in New Filing with Department of Labor http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/workers-chose-to-stick-with-their-union Wed, 27 Mar 2019 06:30:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/workers-chose-to-stick-with-their-union Gain of 9,000 new working members and 19,000 retirees, despite Janus v. AFSCME decision and right-wing efforts to ‘defund and defang’ public service unions and urging members to quit

Overall, union retained 94 percent of all represented workers, defying expectations over Supreme Court decision fallout

Threats remain; AFSCME focused on organizing, 2020 and continued wins in the courts

WASHINGTON —  The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) submitted its annual LM-2 filing with the Department of Labor, which requires all unions to report the number of members and agency fee payers they represent. AFSCME’s filing shows a gain of 9,097 dues-paying members and 18,638 dues-paying retirees over the union’s report last year, suggesting that efforts by the billionaires and corporations behind the Janus v. AFSCME case and the anti-worker majority of the United States Supreme Court to “defund and defang” public service unions have fallen flat. 

The report is the first since Janus v. AFSCME, the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling which held that requiring fees from public service workers who receive union benefits but choose not to join the union is unconstitutional. In the wake of the decision, the report shows that, overall, the union retained 94 percent of workers it represents, including both dues-paying members and fee payers. According to the report, AFSCME represents 1,329,594 working members, agency fee payers in the private sector and retirees, compared to 1,411,877 reported last year. Though this represents a bottom-line decrease of 6 percent thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision, it crushed union analysts’ expectations, which anticipated a loss upwards of 30 percent.

“In overwhelming numbers, AFSCME members have blunted the attacks of the wealthy special interests and chosen to stick with their union. Nurses, school employees, corrections officers, emergency medical technicians and others will not forfeit their seat at the table or let their voices be silenced. They will continue to assert their rights and freedoms,” said Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME.

The union’s AFSCME Strong campaign, launched in 2014, was essential to this success. AFSCME Strong represented a major culture shift, prioritizing one-on-one conversations and member-to-member engagement, modernized communications, a state-of-the art data infrastructure, and political engagement that has seen members advocating for and mobilizing behind candidates who support working families. In all, AFSCME Strong resulted in more than 1 million conversations between AFSCME members about the value of union membership since 2014.

A Growth Agenda and 2020

Since 2016, AFSCME has won 245 organizing campaigns and has ramped up those efforts across the country in both the public and private sectors.

There is also momentum in public and political support for unions and pro-worker solutions to a rigged system in which the richest few continue to take advantage of working people. At 62 percent, unions have reached their highest level of support in 15 years. Meanwhile, lawmakers and presidential candidates are increasingly advocating pro-worker policies, from a living wage to universal health care to student debt.

“Public service workers never quit doing everything possible to keep their communities safe and strong. The best way to do that is to come together in a strong union and negotiate for improvements that benefit everyone – lower nurse-patient ratios, smaller classroom sizes, better equipment for EMTs and higher funding for road repairs,” said Saunders.

The Battle in the Courts

Meanwhile, right-wing groups continue to rely on courts to implement an unpopular anti-worker agenda. But AFSCME and other public service unions continue to rack up victories in these cases:

  • Federal courts in Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Alaska, Ohio and California have rejected corporate interest groups’ bids to require unions to pay back agency fees that were collected and spent in representing the workers prior to the Janus decision. These courts have found that the unions acted in good faith and in accordance with controlling law at the time. In fact, the Illinois district court ruled that Mark Janus, the plaintiff in Janus v. AFSCME, is entitled to no damages. Any other result, these courts have noted, would promote lawlessness and erode the judiciary’s standing in the eyes of the public.
  • In two separate cases this month, judges preliminarily halted two Missouri laws, one that would eliminate merit system protections and collective bargaining over job protections for state employees and another that would hamstring all Missouri public service workers’ rights to collectively bargain. Both judges held that the respective laws violated Missourians’ fundamental right to collectively bargain, a right enshrined in the state constitution.
  • In February, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Mentele v. SEIU Local 925, rejected the Freedom Foundation’s and National Right to Work Foundation’s attempts to eliminate exclusive representation in labor relations, a bedrock principle of American labor relations.

“The Janus case taught us two things: first, the anti-worker Supreme Court majority cares more about rigging the system in favor of corporate interests than about facts and precedent,” said Saunders. “Second, public service workers are resilient and see the value of union membership. We will not let five justices determine the future of our union. We will fight any attempt to break our bonds of solidarity. We will continue to build power together to lift up our families and our communities.”

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AFSCME Applauds the Introduction of the IDEA Full Funding Act http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscme-applauds-the-introduction-of-the-idea-full-funding-act Tue, 26 Mar 2019 12:05:48 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscme-applauds-the-introduction-of-the-idea-full-funding-act AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement in support of the IDEA Full Funding Act introduced by Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) and Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) and Reps. Jared Huffman (D-California), John Katko (R-New York), David McKinley (R-West Virginia), Glenn Thompson (R-Pennsylvania) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania). This legislation would fulfill a commitment made in 1975 to provide states with 40 percent of the average per-pupil expenditure for students with disabilities:

“All students deserve access to a free, safe, nurturing and quality learning environment. Students with disabilities are no exception. AFSCME members across the country work with these students, driving their buses to get them safely to and from school, assisting them in the classroom, and helping to make sure they have equal access to a good education and a brighter future. We support the introduction of the IDEA Full Funding Act to ensure that the federal promise made to students with disabilities nearly 50 years ago is kept.”

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AFSCME Supports the ‘Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act’ http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscme-supports-the-excellence-in-mental-health-and-addiction-treatment-expansion-act Thu, 14 Mar 2019 11:58:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscme-supports-the-excellence-in-mental-health-and-addiction-treatment-expansion-act AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement in support of the “Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act,” bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) and Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) and Reps. Doris Matsui (D-California) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma). The legislation would increase the level of much-needed resources in 19 states to treat mental health conditions and addiction:

“AFSCME members are committed to making their communities healthier and stronger through treating addiction, mental health conditions and addressing the opioid epidemic. We support this important bipartisan legislation because it builds on the success and effectiveness of established Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs), which have expanded services and reduced wait times for patients who need urgent treatment. We thank Senators Stabenow and Blunt and Representatives Matsui and Mullin for their leadership and for making it easier for dedicated mental health professionals to provide better care for the clients to whom they are so dedicated.”

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AFSCME President Lee Saunders on DNC Choosing Milwaukee for 2020 Convention http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscme-president-lee-saunders-on-dnc-choosing-milwaukee-for-2020-convention Mon, 11 Mar 2019 19:18:07 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/afscme-president-lee-saunders-on-dnc-choosing-milwaukee-for-2020-convention AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the Democratic National Committee choosing Milwaukee to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention:

“America’s heartland is a great place for the nominee of the Democratic Party to communicate a vision for how he or she will lift up working families. That would include making it easier for workers to join in strong unions. Wisconsin is where AFSCME was founded. The issues our members care about will be front and center in political debate heading into 2020, especially as the Democratic National Convention will be held in a state where voters rejected former Gov. Scott Walker’s disgraceful attacks on working people.”

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