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 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Renewed Attempts to Repeal and Replace the Affordable Care Act http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-renewed-attempts-to-repeal-and-replace-the-affordable-care-act Thu, 20 Apr 2017 17:31:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-renewed-attempts-to-repeal-and-replace-the-affordable-care-act AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the Affordable Care Act repeal amendment from Reps. Meadows and MacArthur.

“For weeks, tens of thousands of Americans spoke up with passion and outrage about the cruelty of robbing 24 million Americans of their health coverage. Unbelievably, the response from congressional leaders was to make their bill worse than the one they couldn’t pass a month ago.

“Repeal-and-replace 2.0 includes all of the same deeply unpopular elements of their previous bill, plus it adds provisions stripping away some of the most universally popular and important elements of the Affordable Care Act. It still will lead to skyrocketing costs for older Americans. It still defunds Medicaid in order to give tax handouts to corporations and millionaires. Now, their plan also guts protections for pre-existing conditions and allows insurers to drop vital coverage like maternity care. This plan will take us back to the days when those with health conditions won’t be able to afford coverage at all or won’t be able to get a plan that includes the very coverage they need.

“The American people have already made themselves heard loud and clear. Congress should show that they are accountable to their constituents, not party leadership or the White House, and drop their nakedly partisan attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on New OMB Directive to Reduce the Federal Workforce http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-new-omb-directive-to-reduce-the-federal-workforce Wed, 12 Apr 2017 14:37:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-new-omb-directive-to-reduce-the-federal-workforce AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement about the Trump Administration’s announcement of a “Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce.”

“It’s beyond insulting to hear OMB Director Mulvaney’s characterization of this proposal as ‘the coolest thing nobody’s talking about.’ There’s nothing cool about firing hard-working people who’ve devoted themselves to government service, or about hurting communities that depend on the services they provide.

“From protecting our neighborhoods to building community infrastructure to ensuring that our skies are safe for travel, public service workers never quit finding ways to make the American people stronger and healthier. This new directive, made necessary by an administration budget proposal that is unprecedented in its austerity and cruelty, doesn’t trim fat; it cuts right into bone.

“Federal employees and all public service workers didn’t choose their careers expecting to get rich. But they deserve basic respect. They deserve better than this attack on their livelihoods from the Trump administration.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on the Confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-confirmation-of-neil-gorsuch-to-the-us-supreme-court Fri, 07 Apr 2017 14:40:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-confirmation-of-neil-gorsuch-to-the-us-supreme-court AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, following an unprecedented move to invoke the “nuclear option”:

“Today the American people were once again cheated by a system rigged against them. The Senate’s action to ram through the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch without strong bipartisan support sets a troubling precedent and sheds further light on the politicization of the Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court must not be used as a political tool to satisfy a ruthless corporate agenda. Justice Gorsuch must take his responsibility to the country and to the Constitution seriously by standing up for everyone, not just the privileged and the powerful.

“AFSCME is committed to standing up for the rights and protections of public service workers who make their communities stronger and for all working people, regardless of who is in office or serving on the judiciary. We maintain our resolve to organize and to work with our allies to fight for economic justice and equal rights under the law for all working families.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on the Use of the “Nuclear Option” to Force the Confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-use-of-the-nuclear-option-to-force-the-confirmation-of-neil-gorsuch-to-the-supreme-court Thu, 06 Apr 2017 12:30:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-use-of-the-nuclear-option-to-force-the-confirmation-of-neil-gorsuch-to-the-supreme-court AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement in response to the unprecedented use of the “Nuclear Option” to force through the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court:

“The Senate’s decision to rig the rules to ram through an extremist Supreme Court Justice is a stain on our nation’s democracy and a kick in the teeth to working people who will continue to be second-class citizens to corporations. Anyone nominated for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be able to earn strong bipartisan support.

“Judge Gorsuch failed to obtain this support because of his troubling record of ruling in favor of corporations at the expense of everyday working people. His belief that corporations are people and his refusal to answer fundamental questions about his past rulings and judicial philosophy cast serious doubt that he would use the Constitution to protect the rights of everyone, not just the wealthy and privileged.

“During his campaign, President Trump promised to lift up the forgotten man and woman, yet at every turn he has reneged on that promise. He has attacked vital public services and institutions designed to protect working people, including an independent judiciary. His pick for a new Supreme Court Justice proves once again he didn’t mean a word of it.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on the Failure of AHCA in the House of Representatives http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-failure-of-ahca-in-the-house-of-representatives Fri, 24 Mar 2017 16:42:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-failure-of-ahca-in-the-house-of-representatives AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the inability of the House to move forward on the American Health Care Act:

“It was obvious to the tens of thousands of Americans who flooded town halls and phone lines, and the majority of American voters who opposed the American Health Care Act, that this abomination of a bill was nothing more than tax giveaways for corporations and millionaires disguised as health care legislation. 

“Working families, medical professionals, seniors and child advocates, and voters of all political stripes made themselves heard loud and clear: anything that dismantles the progress made under the Affordable Care Act is unacceptable.

“We must continue to hold our leaders accountable to President Trump’s repeated promises to working families on health care: nobody loses their coverage, and no cuts to Medicaid or Medicare.”

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AFSCME Opposes Neil Gorsuch for Appointment to Supreme Court http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-opposes-neil-gorsuch-for-appointment-to-supreme-court Thu, 23 Mar 2017 10:38:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-opposes-neil-gorsuch-for-appointment-to-supreme-court AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement opposing Judge Neil Gorsuch for appointment to the United States Supreme Court.

“Before receiving a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch needed to answer fundamental questions, both about his past record and about how he would apply the law as a Justice on the highest court in the land. On both accounts, Judge Gorsuch has come up short.

“Judge Gorsuch has failed to demonstrate and give fundamental assurances that he would be an independent voice on the Court who will use the Constitution to protect the rights of everyone, not just the wealthy and powerful. He failed to adequately address a troubling record of ruling against everyday working people, instead siding with employers, corporations and Wall Street despite often blatant and draconian violations of basic worker rights, safety and consumer protections. It is clear that he believes corporations are people and his judicial philosophy would likely further tilt the scales of justice against working families.

“At a time when the country is facing deep divisions, the American people cannot afford to confirm a nominee to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court if that nominee’s commitment to the Constitution’s guarantee of equality under the law is shrouded in doubt. We urge the U.S. Senate to oppose the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court.”

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Elissa McBride Elected AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/elissa-mcbride-elected-afscme-secretary-treasurer Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:55:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/elissa-mcbride-elected-afscme-secretary-treasurer The International Executive Board of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees today by acclamation elected Elissa McBride as its new secretary-treasurer. McBride, who will assume office effective immediately, has served as AFSCME’s director of Education and Leadership Training since 2001.

“AFSCME members are the backbone of our communities,” McBride said. “Members of our union staff our libraries, maintain our roads, care for us in times of medical crisis, ensure the safety of our children and much more. I am honored to serve as their secretary-treasurer, and I pledge to serve with passion, integrity and commitment as we continue to organize for workers’ rights and fight for public services.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders added: “Elissa McBride has been a dynamic force in our union for more than 15 years. As a superb educator and organizer, she has helped lead us through a period of growth and change. She never quits fighting for our members, and for all working people, to get the respect they deserve. At this critical moment in AFSCME’s history, she has the energy and expertise we need to put us on the right course for the future.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on the Trump “Skinny Budget” http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-trump-skinny-budget Thu, 16 Mar 2017 15:32:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-trump-skinny-budget AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the “skinny budget” released by the White House:

“The budget presented today by President Trump is even worse than we could have imagined. His proposed cuts are so large, so dangerous, and so harmful to the basic well-being of American families that they may prove too extreme even for the extremists in Congress.

"This budget cuts nearly everything that matters to working families. It would make it harder for them to send their kids to college or a quality public school, to find good jobs, even to heat their homes or live and work in safe and healthy environments.

"Combined with the proposed changes to Medicaid contained in the health care plan the president has endorsed, this budget will prove devastating to state budgets and the vital public services our communities depend on. 

"Once again, President Trump's actions aren’t living up to the populist rhetoric of his campaign. He is breaking promises to the struggling families who feel left behind in today's economy. This budget does not just neglect these families and communities; it goes out of its way to hurt them."

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Puerto Rico Fiscal Plan http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-puerto-rico-fiscal-plan Mon, 13 Mar 2017 18:12:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-puerto-rico-fiscal-plan AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the oversight board’s approval of a fiscal plan for Puerto Rico:

“The plan approved by the Oversight Board will have devastating consequences for the people of Puerto Rico, especially its most vulnerable citizens. The plan adopts an austerity approach that will slash services, cut pensions and create yet more economic hardship for Puerto Ricans. The winners are wealthy investors who stand to gain from the mass privatization of the services that remain. These actions are the foreseeable result of an anti-democratic law adopted by the last Congress. The people of Puerto Rico have been forgotten; we call on the federal government to act quickly to restore services and pensions.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on CBO Analysis of the American Health Care Act http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-cbo-analysis-of-the-american-health-care-act Mon, 13 Mar 2017 18:05:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-cbo-analysis-of-the-american-health-care-act AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the Congressional Budget Office’s score for the American Health Care Act:

“As if the pleas of doctors, nurses, retirees, hospitals and lawmakers from both parties weren’t enough, now we have 24 million additional reasons to protect the Affordable Care Act. The health care legislation congressional leaders are rushing through to a vote will cause 24 million Americans to lose their coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office, while burdening millions more with dramatic cost increases and weakening the Medicare Trust Fund.

“The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office’s assessment further crystallizes the priorities of House leaders: to take away health care for millions of vulnerable Americans and use the savings to cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations. Their plans to gut Medicaid and shift its costs to the states will prove particularly dangerous, not only threatening health services for children, seniors and people with disabilities, but also destabilizing state budgets.

“The CBO score is not up for negotiation, argument, or interpretation. If congressional leaders choose to continue rushing this legislation forward, they do so knowing full well that their plan will cause real pain and exact a devastating human cost for millions of Americans.

“Let’s keep the pressure up on members of Congress by flooding their phone lines, writing them letters and attending town halls. We can and must protect health care for 24 million fellow Americans.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on the Passing of Deputy Kevin Haverly http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-passing-of-deputy-kevin-haverly Tue, 07 Mar 2017 17:22:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-passing-of-deputy-kevin-haverly AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement about the passing of Kevin M. Haverly, a sheriff’s deputy in Greene County, New York, and member of AFSCME Council 82:

“The AFSCME family is mourning the loss of Brother Kevin Haverly, who died in the line of duty from injuries sustained in a car accident during his overnight shift on February 28.

“Deputy Haverly exemplified the courage and sacrifice that is the hallmark of all law enforcement professionals. Despite the risks, women and men like Deputy Haverly don’t hesitate to put the safety of their neighbors ahead of their own. They put their lives on the line, so that others can stay out of harm’s way. Because of their character and commitment — because they never quit — our communities thrive.

“AFSCME, representing nearly 100,000 public safety officers nationwide, fights for those officers to have the tools and resources they need to do difficult jobs. That includes not just salary, pension and other benefits, but the best possible training, equipment and safety measures.

“We are heartbroken for Deputy Haverly’s fiancée, Dawn, their three children, and all of his family and friends. We send them love and strength as they cope with this shocking and devastating loss. For more information on how to provide financial assistance to the Haverly family, please click here.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on the American Health Care Act http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-american-health-care-act Tue, 07 Mar 2017 16:04:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-american-health-care-act AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the upcoming committee markup of the American Health Care Act:

“The replacement plan put forward by congressional leadership is no replacement at all for the tens of millions of Americans who rely on the Affordable Care Act to keep their families healthy without fear of bankruptcy. It is simply a tax cut for corporations and the wealthy, funded by gutting Medicaid and shifting health care costs onto states and working families.

“This so-called replacement plan strips women of access to vital preventive care services by defunding Planned Parenthood. It endangers Medicare solvency and allows insurance rates for older Americans to skyrocket. Millions of working people, children and people with disabilities will be put at risk. In fact, some of the only interests who stand to gain from this plan are the health insurance and pharmaceutical corporations that will receive massive tax breaks, paid for by increasing out-of-pocket costs for patients.

“Though this bill has been kept secret, and congressional leadership has failed to provide lawmakers and the public with a CBO score for their legislation, we already know that it will leave millions without coverage. But the questions remain – how many will lose their coverage, and at what cost to jobs, local economies and state budgets? No vote should occur on this legislation until those questions are sufficiently answered.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on New Administration Travel Ban http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-new-administration-travel-ban Mon, 06 Mar 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-new-administration-travel-ban AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on President Trump’s revised executive order travel ban targeting six majority-Muslim countries:

“Despite attempts to make it seem less draconian, the administration’s new travel ban is just as troubling as the first. What makes our country strong is what makes our union strong: our unwavering belief in core values of diversity, inclusion and justice, no matter what adversity we might face.

“AFSCME members and working people across the nation are looking for solutions to fix an out-of-balance economy that favors the wealthy few. This ban does nothing to move our country in the right direction; it only serves to divide us based on bigotry and fear.

“AFSCME members come from all backgrounds, races, religions and ethnicities. We know that no matter where we come from, what we look like, or how we worship, what is most important is how we lift up each other, and how we lift up our communities.”

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AFSCME Statement on Oral Arguments before 7th Circuit Court in Janus Case http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-statement-on-oral-arguments-before-7th-circuit-court-in-janus-case Wed, 01 Mar 2017 16:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-statement-on-oral-arguments-before-7th-circuit-court-in-janus-case AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement about oral arguments today before the United States 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court is hearing arguments in Janus v. AFSCME, a case out of Illinois that represents a renewed effort by corporate and special interest groups to upend the longstanding rights of people who work in public service – people like teachers, firefighters, nurses, and social workers – to come together, speak up for their communities, and get ahead:

“It is clear that the corporate CEOs and wealthy special interests behind this case will stop at nothing to make it harder for public service workers like teachers, firefighters, nurses, and public safety workers to speak up together for better public services, stronger communities, and wages and protections that benefit all Americans. Our economy is out of balance, manipulated to benefit those who are already wealthy, and this case could make it even worse.

“From child-protection investigators to nurses to first responders, public service workers go neighborhood to neighborhood, working to keep their communities safe, healthy and strong. It is their ability to band together with their co-workers as a union to speak up for better staff levels, training, and safety procedures that enable them to keep their communities running smoothly. It would be shameful to see the Circuit Court of Appeals decide the case in favor of wealthy special interests and put the working families and communities at risk.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Responds to Presidential Address http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-responds-to-presidential-address Tue, 28 Feb 2017 22:57:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-responds-to-presidential-address AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement responding to President Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress:

“President Trump offered no specific, tangible solutions to assure working families that he's sincere about fighting for them. There is no evidence that his actual governing agenda is anything besides a handout for the wealthy and austerity for the rest of us.

“Repealing the Affordable Care Act will throw the health care system into disarray and millions of people off the insurance rolls. The president is still teeing up a tax cut that will line the pockets of the very wealthiest Americans. His preliminary budget would leave the safety net in tatters and eviscerate public services.

“And he didn't mention Social Security or Medicare even once, providing no guarantee at all that he would protect these benefits that our retirees have been promised, these programs they depend on.

“President Trump has forgotten about the ‘forgotten man and woman’ whom he said his campaign was about. Working people deserve better than lip service and empty promises. They deserve a president who walks the walk, who will create jobs and lift wages, who will ease our economic anxiety and bolster our economic security, who will improve our lives and give our families hope for a brighter future.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Tonight’s Presidential Speech: “We’ll Be Listening Closely” http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-tonights-presidential-speech-well-be-listening-closely Tue, 28 Feb 2017 17:43:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-tonights-presidential-speech-well-be-listening-closely AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement in advance of President Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress:

“It’s time to walk the walk. For going on two years now, President Trump has been promising to create economic opportunity and make life better for working people. Tonight, he addresses a joint session of Congress, and working families will be listening closely.

“They want to hear if he’s going to keep his word – and they want concrete plans, not vague promises or platitudes. They want to know specifically how he will create jobs, raise wages and help workers have a strong voice on the job. They want him to explain specifically how he’s going to lift up the middle class if he’s going to pursue tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, while calling for radical cuts to public schools, public safety and other public services.

“They want solid assurance that they can continue to depend on Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act to keep their families healthy. They want to know if the president, as he pledged, will protect the programs and benefits they need for a dignified retirement. He needs specifically and unequivocally to denounce plans, championed by some in Congress and embraced by his own Secretary of Health and Human Services, to undermine retirement security by cutting or privatizing Social Security or Medicare.

“Working people, both union members and non-union members, have been getting a raw deal. They’re working harder for less. They’re struggling to keep a roof over their heads and pay the bills every month. Donald Trump said he would be a president for them. Now is his chance to prove it. We’ll be listening closely tonight.”

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AFSCME Opposes President Trump’s Budget Plan to Slash Vital Public Services http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-opposes-president-trumps-budget-plan-to-slash-vital-public-services Mon, 27 Feb 2017 17:22:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-opposes-president-trumps-budget-plan-to-slash-vital-public-services AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on President Trump’s budget proposal, which would slash tens of billions of dollars in funding for vital public services:

“AFSCME strongly opposes President Trump’s plan to reduce vital public services that support working families and keep the economy strong. This is the President’s first budget and a new opportunity to back up his promises to help working families with real action and real help. But his proposed cuts do just the opposite.

“We urge President Trump to make good on his promises to stand with middle class families and reverse his plan to drastically reduce investments in public health, public schools, infrastructure, public safety and other important public services.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on DNC Vote http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-dnc-vote Sat, 25 Feb 2017 21:06:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-dnc-vote AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on Sec. Tom Perez being elected as Chair of the Democratic Party:

“I congratulate Keith Ellison on running an excellent campaign. Because of the fresh perspective and real ideas about the future of the party he brought to this race, he will be a true asset to the party as Deputy Chair. I am glad that Keith will also continue to be an outspoken advocate for working people and progressive values in the House of Representatives.

“We are at a unique moment in history. The heart and soul of our democracy are on the line — from voting rights to civil rights to workers’ rights. Meanwhile, you can look outside your window on any given weekend and see that grassroots energy and engagement are at an all time high. As a party, we do not have a moment to lose. The Democratic Party must present a bold vision that lifts up working people from all walks of life, and pursue strategies that turn that vision into reality.

“Tom Perez is a tenacious champion for all working families. As DNC Chair, I know he will bring the same passion for economic and social justice that made him such a remarkably effective Labor Secretary, and I am confident that the entire Democratic Party will move forward together in unity.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Justice Department Private Prisons Announcement http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-justice-department-private-prisons-announcement Thu, 23 Feb 2017 19:48:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-justice-department-private-prisons-announcement AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the Justice Department’s reversal of the Obama Administration decision to phase out the federal government’s use of private prisons:

“Corrections officers working in our federal, state and local prisons have some of the most dangerous jobs imaginable. They put themselves in harm’s way to protect their communities. They deserve our respect and gratitude, because they never quit putting public service and public safety first.

“Today’s Justice Department decision, however, puts corporate interests first. It’s been demonstrated time and time again that prisons-for-profit provide less security at a higher cost to taxpayers. And they contribute to the mass incarceration epidemic that is devastating so many communities.

“Private prisons are dangerous and overcrowded, with inexperienced staff and unsanitary conditions. At all levels of government, we should be phasing them out, not propping them up.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Council 31’s Strike Authorization http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-council-31s-strike-authorization Thu, 23 Feb 2017 17:23:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-council-31s-strike-authorization AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the Illinois state workers’ vote to authorize a strike:

“Public service workers show up every day knowing that their work means something to their communities. They don’t get rich protecting our children, fixing our roads, or keeping our water clean; they do it because it’s a calling. All they ask in return is basic respect, in the form of fair wages and benefits to do their jobs more effectively.

“But Governor Rauner has shown a shameful disrespect for Illinois state workers and the communities they serve. By refusing to negotiate in good faith, he has demonstrated again that he puts his own agenda before the best interests of working families. By irresponsibly using dedicated public service workers as a fiscal scapegoat, he has given union members in state government no choice but to vote on whether to authorize a strike.

“Today Council 31 has announced that over 81 percent of union members voted YES to give their Bargaining Committee the authority to call a strike. AFSCME members across the country stand in solidarity with Illinois state employees in their fight for fundamental fairness.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on New Immigration Rules http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-new-immigration-rules Tue, 21 Feb 2017 16:37:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-new-immigration-rules AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the Department of Homeland Security’s new rules on enforcing executive orders on immigration:

“The rules announced today for implementing President Trump’s executive orders amount to nothing short of mass deportation. Instead of seriously addressing comprehensive immigration reform, this administration is throwing communities into chaos and fear.

“America is made stronger by the generations of immigrants who have come here willing to work hard, play by the rules and pay their fair share — no matter where they are from. Today’s steps threaten and undermine fundamental American values of hard work, family and community.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on New Iowa Collective Bargaining Law http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-new-iowa-collective-bargaining-law Fri, 17 Feb 2017 18:12:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-new-iowa-collective-bargaining-law AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the signing of the new Iowa collective bargaining law:

“The law signed by the governor today is a slap in the face to the hardworking women and men who provide professional public services that strengthen Iowa communities every day. 

“For more than 40 years, the collective bargaining system has worked fairly and efficiently, providing economic security to state employees and a good value for Iowa taxpayers. These unnecessary changes aren’t about fiscal responsibility. They’re an attack on public service workers who need the strongest possible voice on the job.

“We won’t give up this fight. AFSCME will continue to stand with Iowa working families and communities.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on New Hampshire “Right-to-Work” Vote http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-new-hampshire-right-to-work-vote Thu, 16 Feb 2017 17:31:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-new-hampshire-right-to-work-vote AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on “right-to-work” failing to pass the New Hampshire House:

“Today’s vote is a victory for working families in New Hampshire and a defeat for the corporate special interests attacking working people across the country.

“The people of New Hampshire sent a clear message today: In an unbalanced economy manipulated to benefit the wealthy few, lawmakers should make it easier, not harder, for hard-working people to come together in a union to get ahead.

“So-called right-to-work laws result in lower wages for all workers because they erode the ability of working people to speak up together for fair wages, benefits, and protections that set standards for all workplaces.

“AFSCME members are committed to our communities and to making New Hampshire a better place to live for everyone, not just the wealthy and powerful.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on House GOP Health Care Plan http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-house-gop-health-care-plan Thu, 16 Feb 2017 15:05:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-house-gop-health-care-plan AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the health care replacement plan put forward by House Republicans: 

“Today, House Republican leaders shared with their caucus options for legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“The measures they propose to replace the ACA are a mix of half-measures and failed policies that will do little to provide coverage to the 30 million people who will lose their insurance if the ACA is repealed. They want to pay for their plan through a tax hike on middle-class families that could potentially destroy employer-based insurance for nearly 180 million Americans.

“Moreover, their plans to restructure and cut Medicaid would destabilize our health care system and state government finances and cause many children, seniors and people with disabilities to lose the health services they need.

“Insurers have warned that the health insurance market will collapse if the ACA is repealed, but GOP leaders and the White House are pressing ahead anyway. Rather than putting the health and economic security of millions of Americans first, they are pursuing an extremist agenda.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Acosta Nomination http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-acosta-nomination Thu, 16 Feb 2017 13:21:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-acosta-nomination AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the nomination of Alexander Acosta as U.S. Secretary of Labor:

“President Trump’s promise to lift up working people was a centerpiece of his campaign. It’s critical that he be held accountable on this question, and his choice of labor secretary is a test of whether he meant what he said.

“During a time of unprecedented attacks against labor unions and the middle class, we need a labor secretary who will truly be an advocate for working families. We need someone with a demonstrated commitment to lifting wages, to enhancing retirement security, to ensuring workplace safety, to aggressive enforcement of anti-discrimination and wage and hour laws. I look forward to hearing Mr. Acosta answer tough questions on these issues.”

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