Press Release Feed Press Releases Tue, 3 May 2011 05:00:00 +0000 AMPS en hourly 1 AFSCME President Lee Saunders on University of California Patient Care and Service Workers Reaching Historic Agreements Tue, 28 Jan 2020 12:00:00 -0500 Nearly 19,000 AFSCME 3299 represented UC Patient Care workers joined UC Service workers in reaching a tentative contract agreement with the University of California to curtail outsourcing, lift wages and expand career ladders. In response, AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement:

“AFSCME Local 3299 members dedicate their lives to strengthening the University of California campuses where they work and the communities where they live. Now, both Service and Patient Care workers are one step closer to a fair contract that honors that commitment to public service. They have persisted and persevered. They have inspired elected officials and other allies to show their solidarity. And they have stood courageously on the front lines of a national struggle against economic inequality and injustice.”

AFSCME Mobilizes, Urges Immediate Action to Ease Suffering in Puerto Rico Mon, 13 Jan 2020 17:40:06 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement concerning the devastating series of earthquakes and aftershocks hitting Puerto Rico and called on the administration to allocate resources to ease Puerto Rico’s suffering:

“The entire AFSCME family has the people of Puerto Rico in its thoughts and prayers as they continue to face unthinkable conditions and personal hardship. Puerto Rico’s public service workers are tireless in their efforts to keep their communities safe, healthy and strong even though they, too, face displacement from their homes, vast power outages and the threat of disease. AFSCME is mobilizing to assist Puerto Rico’s communities by providing shipments of water and other vital necessities. We urge the Trump administration to implement a robust and immediate aid effort to ease the suffering and devastation facing the commonwealth. We also encourage our communities across the country to help however they can and suggest donations be directed to these organizations in Puerto Rico:

AFSCME Will Not Stop Fighting Back Against Attacks on Health Care Wed, 18 Dec 2019 12:00:00 -0500 Today, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision in Texas v. Azar. In response, AFSCME President Lee Saunders released the following statement:

“President Trump and his political allies will continue their efforts to take away health care from millions of people. We cannot afford to revert to past injustices of lifetime caps and discrimination that especially harm women, older Americans and people with preexisting conditions. Health care is a right, not a privilege, and AFSCME will not stop fighting for increased access and quality health care for all Americans.”

AFSCME Urges the Senate to Fund the Government Tue, 17 Dec 2019 12:00:00 -0500 Today, the House passed a massive fiscal year 2020 appropriations package that includes significant benefits for working families. In response, AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement:

“This budget package includes many provisions that will benefit working people and strengthen public services. This deal includes the creation of student loan assistance for behavioral health workers, a raise for federal workers, relief for mineworkers’ pensions and an increase in education funding, especially for low-income students and students with disabilities. It will also repeal the 40% tax on high-cost worker and retiree benefits so Americans will be better able to maintain and increase their health care benefits. As Congress approaches another funding deadline, AFSCME urges the Senate to pass this robust funding bill, which keeps the federal government open, enhances financial stability for states and localities and provides relief for working families.”

AFSCME Calls on Senate to Pass the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Prescription Drug Costs Now Act Thu, 12 Dec 2019 12:00:00 -0500 In response to the House passing the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Prescription Drug Costs Now Act, AFSCME President Lee Saunders released the following statement calling on the Senate to take up this historic bill to lower the price of prescription drugs for working families and retirees:

“By passing this landmark legislation, House legislators are keeping their promise to hold drug corporations accountable and lower prescription drug prices for working people and retirees. In one of the wealthiest countries on earth, no one should be skipping dosages or not taking needed medication because drugs are priced too high. This bill will bring down health care costs and make historic investments in Medicare and public health to ensure that Americans receive the care they need.

“Now it is time for the Senate to do its job and vote on this vital bill. Every day that Senate leader Mitch McConnell refuses to take action, Americans will continue to suffer.”

AFSCME Strongly Supports Landmark Bill to Restore Voting Rights Fri, 06 Dec 2019 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement in strong support of the Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) (H.R.4), a key piece of legislation that will restore the Voting Rights Act (VRA):

“There is perhaps no more important pillar of our democracy than the right to vote. The 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision shamefully gutted voting protections for millions of Americans. Within months, states enacted discriminatory voter I.D. laws, shut down polling locations and took other steps that disenfranchised working families, people of color and the elderly. Restoring equal access to the ballot box is long overdue, especially for those who have historically faced systematic discrimination and voter suppression. We applaud the House for restoring the Voting Rights Act and working to ensure that all Americans can participate in our democracy and make it stronger.”

AFSCME President Lee Saunders on Senator Warren’s Part-Time Worker Plan Wed, 04 Dec 2019 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement on Senator Warren’s plan to address unpredictable work schedules for part-time workers:

“Without question, the greatest challenge we face is providing workers with meaningful opportunities to improve their economic conditions and regain control over their own lives. Senator Warren’s plan to address fair scheduling is an example of the kind of policy that creates an economy that works for workers. We urge all the candidates to continue to lay out a clear vision of how their presidency would improve the lives of working people who have been offered many promises but seen little action from President Trump.”

Lee Saunders on Mayor Buttigieg’s Health Care Equity Proposal Wed, 04 Dec 2019 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement expressing praise for Mayor Buttigieg’s efforts to address inequities on our health care system:

“AFSCME members have long understood that access to health insurance is not the same as access to quality health care. AFSCME public service workers fight every day to both expand access and quality of care in every community around the country. We are encouraged that Mayor Buttigieg intends to address the disparities in access to health care by providing more resources to ensure health care equity.”

AFSCME Applauds Passage of Workplace Violence Prevention Bill Thu, 21 Nov 2019 12:00:00 -0500 Today, the House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 1309, the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, which demands the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issue a workplace violence prevention standard requiring employers within the health care and social service sectors to develop and implement a plan to protect their employees from workplace violence. In response, AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement:

“Every year, hundreds of nurses, social workers and others are killed, and thousands are injured, due to workplace violence incidents. The cost of inaction is too high, and we can no longer allow employers to skirt their duties to protect employees who step up every day to keep us safe, care for our loved ones and make our communities strong and healthy. Our health care and social service workers deserve to be safe at work and to go home to their families at the end of the day. We celebrate the passage of this bill as a major step forward in ensuring that workers are protected and urge the Senate to take this bill up.”

AFSCME President Lee Saunders on Senator Warren’s Medicare for All Proposal Fri, 15 Nov 2019 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement about Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Medicare for All proposal:

“As a union that has long supported quality, affordable health care for all, AFSCME believes Senator Warren’s Medicare for All proposal is on the right track – especially because it preserves and extends comprehensive health benefits workers have achieved through collective bargaining.”

Lee Saunders on DNC Standing in Solidarity with UC Workers Wed, 06 Nov 2019 12:00:00 -0500 In response to the DNC withdrawing from holding December’s Democratic debate at UCLA, AFSCME President Lee Saunders released the following statement: 

“AFSCME applauds the DNC for looking for a new venue to hold the December Democratic debate. The DNC heard our concerns about the ongoing violations of state law and labor contracts by the UC system in its effort to outsource jobs normally performed by UC workers to low-wage contractors. The university system continues to accelerate its secretive outsourcing campaign without notifying the custodial, food service and transportation services workers and nursing assistants, among others who are affected.

“UC’s outsourcing practices hurt UC employees and contract workers and drive down wages predominantly for women and people of color who already face gender and racial pay gaps. UC workers in the university and medical systems care about their students, patients and their communities, and they deserve respect.

“AFSCME’s 1.4 million members stand in solidarity with UC workers and we will do everything we can to work with Local 3299 to ensure they get the fair contract and treatment they deserve, including supporting a one-day statewide strike across all UC campuses and medical centers on Nov. 13. We urge the UC system to come to the table and negotiate a fair contract that addresses the universities’ violations and treats UC workers with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

Working People Win Big in Virginia and Kentucky Tue, 05 Nov 2019 21:53:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued this statement following election results in Virginia and Kentucky:

“Virginians have elected the most worker-friendly state legislature in at least 25 years and Andy Beshear’s victory in Kentucky is an unmistakable rejection of a brand of politics – one of division and one that favors the wealthy and well-connected over hardworking people. In both states, voters have cast their ballots for an agenda that puts working families first and gives Virginians and Kentuckians greater freedom to have a seat at the table and strengthen their communities.

“These wins are further evidence of growing grassroots and political momentum in favor of working people. With a powerful wind at our backs, we will continue this momentum by working with these newly elected champions of working people to raise wages and expand access to public services that make our communities stronger.”

AFSCME mourns the passing of Rep. Elijah Cummings Thu, 17 Oct 2019 12:00:00 -0500

AFSCME President Lee Saunders released this statement following the news that Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings passed away today: 

“Today the country lost a champion for working people. Rep. Cummings was a guardian of our democratic values and he represented the very best in public service.

“He was a leader of principle and integrity; a fierce fighter for the labor movement and all working families in Baltimore and across the country. His legacy lives on in our commitment to public service and to making our country and democracy stronger every day.”

‘Largest Union Organizing Campaign in the Country’ Underway as 40,000 California Child Care Workers Win Freedom to Collectively Bargain Mon, 30 Sep 2019 19:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement after California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Building a Better Early Care and Education System Act (AB 378). Child care providers have been uniting their co-workers across the state since 2003. They organize under the banner: Child Care Providers United (CCPU) — a coalition of family child care providers across the state who are members of UDW/AFSCME Local 3930, SEIU Local 99 and SEIU Local 521:

“Forty thousand dedicated child care providers now have the freedom to form a union and negotiate together for improvements on the job that will benefit both their own families and the families they serve. With their collective voice, providers will be able to win better wages, training, resources and increase access to quality child care for all so that every child has a better chance at success, no matter where they come from. This historic win represents the largest organizing campaign in the country, which is experiencing a dynamic surge of union activism and mobilization, with growing numbers of people demanding that we unrig an economy that favors the wealthy and well-connected. Americans want unions, and we will keep fighting until everyone has the freedom to join one.”

AFSCME President Lee Saunders on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Presidential Run Fri, 20 Sep 2019 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement about New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign for the presidency:

“I want to commend Mayor de Blasio for running a campaign that was about putting working people first by elevating the issues that are important to working families in New York and across the country. Enacting universal pre-K, paid sick days for employees and a bold plan to protect the environment while creating good jobs are all things New Yorkers can be proud of. We look forward to working with Mayor de Blasio to find new ways to win for all working families.”

Lower Drug Costs Now Act Promises to Bring Down Prescription Drug Prices Thu, 19 Sep 2019 13:42:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders released the following statement in support of H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act. This legislation would allow the federal government to negotiate prescription drug prices, impose penalties on companies that refuse to negotiate, stop unjustified price hikes for existing medications and reinvest savings back into Medicare:

“For too long, politicians have given pharmaceutical companies a free license to take advantage of working people and retirees. Every year, these companies rake in billions of dollars in profits for their CEOs and shareholders by price gouging consumers. Meanwhile, millions of Americans report skipping dosages or outright forgoing medication because of exorbitant costs.

“By introducing H.R. 3, House leadership is taking a stand for working people and retirees and promising to rein in corporate greed. AFSCME looks forward to working with this Congress to ensure that every American has access to the medication they need.”

AFSCME Opposes Scalia Appointment Thu, 19 Sep 2019 12:00:00 -0500 After Eugene Scalia’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, AFSCME President Lee Saunders released the following statement:

“Eugene Scalia has demonstrated that he remains committed to protecting corporations over working people and is unfit to lead as Secretary of Labor. In both private practice and as the Labor Department’s top attorney, Scalia supported the growth of unchecked corporate power and neglected the welfare of working people. After the Great Recession, Scalia led financial services industry efforts to challenge the 2010 Dodd-Frank law needed to protect working families.

He opposed efforts to raise the minimum wage for federal workers and advocated for eliminating the fiduciary rule, which requires financial advisors to work in their customers best interest. Scalia also sided against workers and their unions in lawsuits alleging corporations like Boeing and UPS were retaliating and discriminating against employees. We need a champion for working people in the Department of Labor who will advance standards that protect overtime pay, strengthen workplace safety and defend workers rights over corporate interests. AFSCME urges the Senate to reject this nomination.”

AFSCME Stands in Full Support of Striking Auto Workers Wed, 18 Sep 2019 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement in support of striking auto workers at General Motors:

“Public service workers proudly stand in solidarity with striking auto workers in their fight for dignity and fair treatment. They have made sacrifices for years, helping General Motors achieve record profits. For years, auto workers looked out for GM. Now it’s time for GM to look out for its workers. It is appalling that GM’s response is to punish working families by taking away their health care and trying to extract further concessions.

“The GM strike is part of a resurgence of working people taking collective action to unrig a system that favors corporations and the superrich. Teachers, Stop and Shop workers, hotel and restaurant workers and University of California workers, among others have all taken collective action to stand up for themselves and their communities and have AFSCME’s full support.”

Public Support for Unions Continues to Surge Wed, 28 Aug 2019 12:00:00 -0500 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.”

Permanent Authorization of 9/11 Victim Fund a Major Victory for First Responders, Public Service Workers Tue, 23 Jul 2019 12:00:00 -0500 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.”

AFSCME President Lee Saunders on Impending Scalia Nomination Fri, 19 Jul 2019 12:00:00 -0500 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.”

Raising the Minimum Wage Will Strengthen the Working Class Thu, 18 Jul 2019 12:00:00 -0500 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.”

Repeal of 40% Tax on High-Cost Health Benefits Vital to Improving Health Care Wed, 17 Jul 2019 16:00:00 -0500 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.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden to Attend AFSCME Public Service Forum in Las Vegas Wed, 17 Jul 2019 12:00:00 -0500 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

Universal Child Care Bill Will Help Hardworking Families Tue, 18 Jun 2019 09:00:00 -0500 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.”