Press Release Feed Press Releases Tue, 3 May 2011 05:00:00 +0000 AMPS en hourly 1 New Union Membership Data Reveal Anti-Worker Assault Is Failing Fri, 18 Jan 2019 12:00:00 -0500 The vicious anti-worker assault on American public sector unions—epitomized by the Janus Supreme Court case—has failed to gain traction, new data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirm.

Despite a multimillion-dollar, decades-long war waged by special interests on public sector workers’ right to join together for a better life—culminating in Janus, which was meant to “defund and defang” unions—official statistics show 2018 public sector membership held strong at 7,167,000, a marginal 0.5 percent decline, with total U.S. union membership at 14,721,000 million. Public service unions have all seen more membership joins than drops since the decision.

Since Janus was decided in June, its funders have poured millions of dollars into deceptive campaigns encouraging public service workers to quit their unions, while continuing to manipulate the judicial system to attack the rights and freedoms of working people. But courts are increasingly siding with workers over special interests in the face of attempts to further disenfranchise working families by asking judges to reverse pre-existing and sound law.

The legal merits, the facts and public opinion have always been on the side of working people.

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees President Lee Saunders said: “Momentum is on our side. Public support for unions is at its highest level in 15 years, and elected officials nationwide are embracing unionism as the key to unrigging an economy that overwhelmingly favors the privileged and powerful over working families. Our challenge now is to make it easier for working people to join unions—the one way for workers to get the dignity and respect they deserve.”

“After the Janus ruling I got a letter telling me that I didn’t have to pay fair share fees anymore unless I wanted to,” said Todd Bennington, principal planning analyst for Hennepin County Human Services in Minnesota and a member of AFSCME Council 5, Local 2864. “That’s when I became a member. Being a member is very important to me, particularly in the wake of that decision. It’s important because I believe in the power of collective action, that working together we have a lot more power to effect change in the world and in our own lives. A sense of community and connectedness is so much more appealing to me than the idea of every person for himself. Collectively, we’re going to get a lot better outcomes.”

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said: “It’s heartening that working people have seen straight through these right-wing anti-union groups’ brazen attempts to destroy our union and other democratically run, independent public sector unions. In fact, our union is growing, and winning. Since Janus, we have had 11 organizing wins, adding thousands of new members across higher education, healthcare and PSRP units.

“Union members have sent a clear message to the anti-labor right-wing ideologues: We are sticking with the union. While the right wing has many acts left in its playbook, Janus and the follow-up attacks have backfired. Educators, nurses, grad workers and so many others are joining unions because they see them as vehicles for a better life, a voice at work and a vibrant democracy. This week, the Los Angeles teachers are on strike to ensure students have the resources they need to succeed. The attacks will continue, but our members—and the American labor movement as a whole—are determined to stare them down and emerge stronger than ever.”

According to AFT member Holly Kimpon, a high school biology and anatomy teacher and president of the Genoa Area Education Association in Ohio, “It’s no different now than it was in June when the Janus ruling came out: The teachers in our district will stick together and stick with our union to make sure we have a say in the future of our kids.” Kimpon continued, “I come from a rural and conservative part of Ohio, and all but one of our teachers are dues-paying members, and not one has left the union. In fact, all six new staff members hired this year joined the union. Why? Because we know that our ability to create a safe learning environment for our students and make teaching a viable profession comes directly from being part of a strong union.”

National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García said: “Support for unions remains strong, even in the face of continual attacks on the rights of working people by corporate special interests, because unions represent the voice of working people in the fight against an economy rigged against the middle class. The NEA remains the nation’s largest labor union because educators—from West Virginia to California and in cities across America—know that together we have a powerful voice to make sure that our students have the public schools they deserve.”

“After the Janus decision, many people across the country wrote off labor unions,” said Jay V. Barbuto, a seventh- and eighth-grade language arts teacher from Phoenix. “You know what they didn't consider? Reality. The constant struggle our students face in their schools due to a lack of funding and resources. Educators and support professionals who live check to check because of their undervalued pay. Educators like me will continue to advocate for our students and colleagues as a collective power—as a union—regardless of any decision made by politicians or powerful special interests.”

Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry said: “The numbers back up what we’ve seen all across the nation: Public service workers are sticking together in unions because they know they are stronger together. When workers are united, they have the power in numbers to have a strong voice for the good jobs and quality public services our communities need.”

“I’ve had several conversations with co-workers about how important it is we maintain a united front to continue winning higher wages and better working conditions,” said Adam Korst, a graphic designer for the city of Beaverton, Ore., and SEIU Local 503 member. “While extremist groups like the Freedom Foundation continue to attack our rights and encourage us to drop our membership, we must strengthen our resolve and fight harder than ever. The assault on working people is an assault on all of us who have come together and gained the right to voice what we want and need in the workplace.”


Not only does the strategy to get members to quit their unions appear to be backfiring, but so does the anti-worker legal crusade in the wake of Janus. Recently, inDanielson v. AFSCME Council 28, a case out of Washington state, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington tossed out an attempt to force AFSCME to pay back lawfully collected fair share fees that public service workers chipped in to help cover the cost of collective bargaining prior to the Janus decision. The court ruled that the fees were collected in good faith. In Fisk v. Inslee, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit also rejected an effort by such groups to cancel contracts made between public service workers and their unions.

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Calls on President Trump to Accept House and Senate Proposals to End Shutdown Wed, 02 Jan 2019 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders called on President Donald Trump to accept Democratic proposals put forward this week by House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to end the government shutdown. The proposal is a product of bipartisan negotiations to fund the majority of affected agencies that are not party to the current dispute over border security. In addition, the proposal would allow time for continued negotiations over border security, and the Department of Homeland Security would be funded through Feb. 8: 

“It is time to end the shutdown that is denying millions of Americans critical public services and unnecessarily hurting nearly 800,000 dedicated public service workers, their families and communities. Speaker-designate Pelosi and Leader Schumer should be commended for working to end the shutdown and for putting forward a commonsense proposal with provisions that already have bipartisan support in the House and Senate. I call on President Trump and members of Congress to support the deal. Refusal to do so, all to satisfy a divisive single demand, shows a blatant lack of respect for the service of the people who keep our communities safe, healthy and strong.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Calls Trump Executive Order Canceling Pay Raises ‘Cruel’ Sat, 29 Dec 2018 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders said the following on the Trump administration’s decision to cancel a promised 2.1 percent pay increase for federal employees set to take effect January 1, 2019:

“Canceling promised pay raises for working people out of spite is cruel. Thankfully, new pro-worker leadership in the House of Representatives takes over in just a few days. One of their first orders of business should be to reopen the federal government and deliver on promises made to working people.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders: Shutdown is Irresponsible and Hurts Workers the Most Fri, 21 Dec 2018 23:55:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement in response to the partial government shutdown over Trump’s border wall:

“Shutting down the government to build a border wall and satisfy a divisive agenda is the height of irresponsible political brinkmanship. It falls hardest on hundreds of public service workers and their families, who deserve respect rather than contempt from their elected leaders. The president should come to the table, put our communities first and work to end this unnecessary and harmful shutdown.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Calls For End to Shutdown Brinkmanship Tue, 18 Dec 2018 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding a potential federal government shutdown:

“It’s time for the president to come to the table and end the brinkmanship that is already wreaking havoc on hundreds of thousands of dedicated public service workers, their families and their communities. It is irresponsible to head down this path, especially around the holidays, all to pursue a divisive partisan agenda that voters have flatly rejected. Congress has already reached bipartisan agreement on every element needed to fund the federal government, so this is entirely avoidable. The ball is in the president’s court.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders: ‘It’s Time to End the Attacks on Millions of Americans’ Health Care’ Sat, 15 Dec 2018 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement in response to a Texas judge’s ruling in Texas v. Azar to repeal the Affordable Care Act and take health care away from millions of Americans:

“In November the American people spoke loud and clear that they want to protect the Affordable Care Act, strengthen and expand Medicaid and maintain protections for people with pre-existing conditions. It’s time to end the attacks on millions of Americans’ health care.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders: Washington State Court Decision a Big Win for Working People Wed, 28 Nov 2018 18:08:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement in response to a positive ruling in the corporate-backed case, Danielson vs. AFSCME Council 28, which was heard in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington:

“Today’s decision marks a big win against corporate interest groups – the same forces behind the Janus v. AFSCME case – who continue to try and manipulate our nation’s judicial system to rob working people of their freedom to improve their lives. The facts and the law have always been on our side, and despite these repeated attacks, we will never quit fighting to make our communities stronger in Washington and across the country.”

Read the decision here.

As California Fires Rage, AFSCME Members Fight to Protect Their Communities Tue, 13 Nov 2018 14:08:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement in solidarity with the California communities and AFSCME public service workers who are braving raging fires and personal loss while protecting their communities:

“As the fires raging in California continue to wreak devastation throughout the state, AFSCME members across the country are sending their thoughts, prayers and support to the people of California. We mourn the tragic loss of life and property, and we stand in solidarity with the affected communities and families.

“And we stand firmly with the first responders – including firefighters and the thousands of AFSCME EMS workers, 911 Dispatchers, front-line public service workers as well as those behind the scenes – who are working around the clock under unimaginable circumstances to protect their communities.

“Some of these brave public service workers have also lost their own homes in the fires, their lives changed forever by this unthinkable tragedy. But they show up for work each day and continue to fight on. Because to them, public service isn’t just a job, it’s a calling.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Hails Pro-Worker Victories in Midterms Wed, 07 Nov 2018 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the results of the 2018 midterm elections:

“With great courage and conviction, working people fought back in this election against the rigged economy, standing together and sending a message to the wealthy special interests.

“For the first time in nearly a decade, the U.S. House of Representatives will have a pro-worker majority. And in many states, where extremist governors have spent years viciously attacking the rights of public service workers, we fought back and prevailed. Bruce Rauner, the multimillionaire governor of Illinois who was the original plaintiff in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, was trounced in his re-election bid. Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin who stripped away our collective bargaining rights in 2011, also went down. Pro-worker governors in Pennsylvania and Oregon retained their seats. And in Nevada, Minnesota and Michigan, voters elected new governors who are champions of working people. Governors will receive help in advancing a pro-worker agenda from newly elected allies in state legislatures across the country.

“Some important races have yet to be called, but we know this: AFSCME members organized and mobilized in overwhelming numbers during this election. Working with our allies, we harnessed the power of grassroots organizing to make a powerful case for real change.

“The corporate CEOs and the politicians that do their bidding do not relinquish power without a struggle. And they rig the rules not just of our economy but our democracy — giving themselves a built-in and unfair electoral advantage.

“But AFSCME members and their allies are resilient. We woke up today even more confident in our values, more determined than ever to stand up for our union, our families and our communities. Because we never quit.”

AFSCME: Iowa Results a Sign of Momentum Leading into Midterms Tue, 30 Oct 2018 08:33:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding recertification victories across the state of Iowa:

“The news that Iowa public service workers have overwhelmingly voted to recertify their union is just the latest sign that AFSCME members are resilient and emboldened. They are unwavering in their dedication to their fellow public service workers and their communities, and they are unfazed by the efforts of extremist politicians and anti-worker special interests to dupe them into quitting their union. The recertification victories in Iowa come on the heels of other examples of union momentum across the country – from the rejection of a right-to-work law by Missouri voters, to the massive worker-led strikes by UNITE HERE hotel workers and AFSCME Local 3299 University of California employees. Public support for unions remains at a 15-year high, and the momentum will carry forward into next week’s midterm elections. Working people are organized, energized, and ready to elect candidates who will stand with them and make it easier to join together in strong unions, not harder.”

AFSCME Denounces Hateful Violence, Dangerous Rhetoric Mon, 29 Oct 2018 15:22:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the recent hate-fueled violence, and the dangerous and divisive rhetoric from candidates for public office:

“AFSCME members come from many different backgrounds. We do many different jobs. And we hold many different beliefs. But we share one quality in common: a deep commitment to making our communities and our nation better, safer and stronger. That's why we've dedicated our lives to public service.

“We are broken-hearted by the news of the past few weeks and horrified to see that some candidates for public office still believe marginalizing and dehumanizing people who might think or look or pray differently is a winning strategy. November 6 is our chance to prove that it isn’t.

“From a hate-filled gunman murdering worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue to another angry soul targeting critics of the president with pipe bombs through the mail;

“From conspiracy theories about Jewish funding of a ‘caravan’ of immigrants headed toward the United States to attacks on all immigrants coming via our southern border that stoke racist fears;

“From a candidate for governor urging Florida voters not to ‘monkey this up’ by supporting his black opponent to a recent Trump Administration proposal that would make it official government policy to deny the existence of transgender people, public service workers say enough is enough.

“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., fought and died for the right of every person to be treated with dignity and respect when he marched with AFSCME sanitation workers in Memphis in 1968. On November 6, AFSCME members will stand up for Dr. King’s legacy and the legacy of our union.”

AFSCME Condemns Trump Administration’s Latest Anti-LGBTQ Policy Proposal Tue, 23 Oct 2018 11:06:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the Trump administration’s potential rule change to narrow the federal government’s definition of gender and to eliminate legal protections for transgender Americans:

“President Trump, who assured LGBTQ Americans that he would be their faithful ally, is proving once again to be a vicious antagonist.

“The regulatory change being considered by the administration is a cruel and crude attempt to deny the humanity of transgender people, to strip them of basic civil rights protections at school and at work, in housing and in health care. Once again, the administration is choosing the most divisive path, stoking fear and resentment, pandering to the forces of bigotry. But transgender people, no matter what, #WontBeErased.”

AFSCME Condemns Senate’s Vote to Send Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court Sat, 06 Oct 2018 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh:

“In every conceivable way, Brett Kavanaugh has revealed himself to be unfit for the United States Supreme Court. His extreme hostility to the rights and freedoms of working people is overwhelmingly clear in his record. His confirmation will make it harder for everyone who does not enjoy privilege and power – working people, women, immigrants, people of color and others – to get access to justice in the nation’s highest court.

“The credible sexual assault charges against Judge Kavanaugh have been shamefully dismissed and whitewashed, with this week’s slapdash FBI investigation designed to provide political cover for senators rather than bring important information to light.

“The millions of Americans who oppose this nomination will not fade into the night. Their passion will not subside. They will continue to raise their voices. They will be heard at the ballot box in 31 days.”

AFSCME: Amazon Announcement Shows Power of Collective Action Tue, 02 Oct 2018 12:51:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding Amazon’s announcement that it will pay its employees a minimum of $15 per hour:

“Amazon’s decision to raise wages for its workers is a testament to the power of collective action. The thousands of working people who have joined together to demand $15 and a union should take pride in this victory, and working families everywhere must keep up the pressure for a seat at the table and a union contract. As public support for unions remains at a 15-year high, and working people recommit to their unions and launch new organizing drives in droves, leaders from state capitals to Washington to corporate board rooms should take notice: America’s working people know their own value and know the value of a strong union.”

AFSCME Condemns Judiciary Committee Vote, Calls on Senate to Reject Kavanaugh Fri, 28 Sep 2018 13:51:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh:

“Brett Kavanaugh’s record makes it unmistakably clear that he elevates the interests of corporations at the expense of the rights and freedoms of working people. For that reason alone, he does not belong on the United States Supreme Court. Yesterday’s spectacle clearly established that he also lacks the character and temperament for this lifetime appointment.

“The courageous, compelling and credible testimony offered by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford makes it even more urgent that this nomination not go forward until, as Senator Flake has now requested, the FBI investigates sexual assault charges against Judge Kavanaugh.

“But the FBI should not be constrained by arbitrary timetables or limitations in scope. They must be empowered to do their job. These are serious allegations, and this is a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. This moment calls for all due diligence.”

AFSCME Condemns President Trump’s Latest Attack on Public Service Workers Thu, 30 Aug 2018 17:01:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding President Trump’s plans to freeze the pay of the civilian federal workforce:

“In recognition of Labor Day, President Trump could have thanked the public service workers in the federal government for jobs well done and for being on the front lines of keeping America's communities safe, healthy and secure every single day. Instead, he’s thrown them under the bus by cancelling a modest January 1 cost of living adjustment and instead, freezing their pay.

“No one goes into public service to get rich. The working people we count on to carry out the vital missions of our federal agencies deserve basic fairness and respect. But after giving out nearly $2 trillion in tax breaks to the wealthiest corporations and individuals, and earlier this month claiming credit for ‘the greatest economy in the HISTORY of America,’ President Trump now has the gall to plead poverty when it comes time to paying his own civilian workforce. Congress must reject this shameless attack, which will hurt working families and communities across the country.”

AFSCME President Lee Saunders on the Passing of Senator John McCain Sun, 26 Aug 2018 13:41:14 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the passing of Senator John McCain:

“Senator McCain was one of the great Americans of his generation, a true patriot who showed indescribable courage and character in defense of our country. In the U.S. Senate, he led with strength and character, putting public service before partisanship, earning respect from both sides of the aisle and across the political spectrum. On behalf of the men and women of AFSCME, I extend my deepest condolences and sympathies to his family.”

Court Overturns Trump Executive Orders Attacking Federal Employees Collective Bargaining Rights Sat, 25 Aug 2018 11:03:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the ruling to overturn Trump executive orders attacking federal employees’ collective bargaining rights:

“Today’s court ruling is an important victory for federal workers – for their collective bargaining rights, for their ability to have a powerful voice on the job and provide important services to the American people. It turns back a ruthless attack by the Administration on the integrity of the career civil service – and therefore on democracy itself.

“AFSCME was proud to be a plaintiff in this case and to successfully defend the rights of members who work at the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Justice, Department of Agriculture and other agencies. These patriotic sisters and brothers dedicate their careers to making our nation safe and strong. Today’s decision empowers them to continue doing their work in the public interest, free of cronyism and partisanship, faithful to facts and the rule of law.”

AFSCME Applauds Senator Warren’s Anti-Corruption Proposal Tue, 21 Aug 2018 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposed anti-corruption bill:

“AFSCME applauds Senator Warren’s continued leadership on the critical need to restore balance to our federal government in favor of hardworking families who struggle every day to get ahead. We appreciate her efforts to strengthen public trust in a government that serves all the people, not just an entrenched wealthy few who enjoy outsized influence in today’s Washington. We look forward to our continued work with her to root out corruption and conflicts of interest, ensure a regulatory process that protects the broad public good, and lift up the hard-working men and women of our career civil service with fair pay and the ability to conduct the people’s business free from the political influence of a handful of billionaires.”

Elissa McBride Re-Elected AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Thu, 19 Jul 2018 12:00:00 -0500 Today, member delegates to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) 43rd International Convention re-elected Elissa McBride as International secretary-treasurer by an overwhelming margin.

McBride, who received nearly 98 percent of the vote, joins AFSCME President Lee Saunders in returning AFSCME to its organizing roots. In the days following the June 27 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, even in the face of an onslaught of well-funded attacks by right-wing groups aimed at convincing public service workers to drop their unions, nonmembers choosing to join AFSCME outnumbered members leaving the union by a more than two-to-one margin.

Through the AFSCME Strong organizing program, activists have held more than 950,000 organizing conversations with members and nonmembers about the value of union membership, and since 2016, more than 18,000 new members in public service professions, ranging from paramedics and public defenders to bus drivers and sanitation workers, have organized their workplaces to join the AFSCME family.

A former organizer and labor educator, McBride served for 16 years as AFSCME’s director of Education and Leadership Training before the union’s International Executive Board elected her secretary-treasurer by acclamation in March 2017 to fill an unexpired term. McBride’s challenger for re-election was Donna Stern, of AFSCME Council 25 (Michigan).

McBride brings a wealth of experience in organizing and training strategy at a key moment in AFSCME history. As secretary-treasurer, McBride is working to ensure that the billionaires and corporate CEOs who pushed to get the Janus case before the Supreme Court fail to achieve their stated goal of “defunding” public service unions.

Toward that end, McBride said she has a razor focus on becoming an even better steward of our members’ resources so public service workers can continue to build power through AFSCME. 

“I am proud to stand with you on the front lines of the fight for workers’ rights and public services. And I am proud to stand with you as the chief financial officer of our union. Now more than ever, we as leaders must be good stewards of our union’s precious resources,” she said.

McBride went on to say, “I’m thrilled to have the privilege of continuing this work with my inspiring AFSCME sisters and brothers. When I meet with dedicated public service workers who are not only improving our communities every day, but are tenaciously building power block by block and worksite by worksite, I see a bright future for our union. I know our movement will prevail against anti-worker organizations and wealthy special interests.”

Saunders thanked AFSCME member delegates for choosing the right person for a critically important job.

“Elissa McBride has excelled as AFSCME secretary-treasurer over the last 16 months, and I am grateful to our delegates for giving her this mandate today,” Saunders said. “She is an organizer’s organizer, an effective leader who understands the challenges our union faces, with the skills and strategic vision to ensure that we rise up to meet those challenges. She represents the very best of AFSCME, and there is no one I would rather have as a partner in the years ahead.”

AFSCME Members Kick Off 43rd International Convention Mon, 16 Jul 2018 12:00:00 -0500 The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) gaveled in its 43rd convention on Monday, with more than 5,000 activists from around the country convening at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center to rally, learn new organizing skills and chart the course of one of America’s largest public service unions.

The convention marks the first major gathering of AFSCME’s leaders and activists since a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 rendered the entire public sector “right to work.”

“Time and time again throughout our history, our union has stared down adversity and prevailed,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “AFSCME has been around for more than 80 years, and we will be here 80 years from now. Our enemies can't take our union away from us. They don't get to write our next chapter. We do.” 

In the days following the June 27 Supreme Court decision, even in the face of an onslaught of well-funded attacks by right-wing groups aimed at convincing public service workers to drop their unions, non-members choosing to join AFSCME outnumbered members leaving the union by a more than two-to-one margin. Through the AFSCME Strong organizing program, activists have held more than 950,000 organizing conversations with members and non-members about the value of union membership, and since 2016, more than 18,000 new members in public service professions ranging from paramedics and public defenders to bus drivers and sanitation workers have organized their workplaces to join the AFSCME family.

Through the “Rise Up Institute,” activists at this year’s convention will gain advanced new organizing skills to take back to their communities and workplaces, as the union and its affiliates across the country turn their focus to external organizing campaigns.

AFSCME activists and leaders will be joined in Boston by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry, and National Education Association Secretary-Treasurer Princess Moss.

AFSCME Opposes Trump Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for United States Supreme Court Mon, 09 Jul 2018 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court:

“The United States Supreme Court has become a tool for the rich, powerful and well-connected to trample on the rights and freedoms of working families. If confirmed to the Supreme Court, President Trump’s pick for the bench, Brett Kavanaugh, will join Neil Gorsuch in tipping the scales of the court even further in favor of a handful of wealthy special interests and against working people for decades to come.

“Judge Brett Kavanaugh has shown repeatedly that he is willing to take extreme positions and break with majority opinion to side with corporations, even when their negligence resulted in the death of a worker. Judge Kavanaugh’s record shows that he is not capable of being an independent justice who will uphold the rights of all Americans.

“Make no mistake, the special interests who handpicked the president’s slate of potential justices have no regard for settled law and no use for fair-minded, independent jurists. With the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, the same dark money forces that engineered the reversal of 40 years of precedent to rig the rules against working people in the Janus decision are now poised to tighten their grip on one of our democracy’s most important pillars for generations to come. The Senate should reject this nomination.”

Lee Saunders: Congress Must Not Seat Another Justice to Supreme Court Until After November Wed, 27 Jun 2018 17:54:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement in response to the announcement that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will retire:

“Neil Gorsuch’s seat on the Supreme Court is illegitimate. But now Mitch McConnell and his caucus must practice what they preach. Congress must not seat another justice to the Supreme Court until voters have had their say this November.”

America Needs Unions Now More than Ever As Supreme Court Sides with Corporate Billionaires Rigging Economy Against Workers Wed, 27 Jun 2018 10:33:00 -0500 The following statement was issued by leaders and members of AFSCME, AFT, NEA and SEIU following the decision by the United States Supreme Court to rule against working people and in favor of billionaire CEOs and corporate interests in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, holding that requiring fair-share fees in the public sector violates the First Amendment of the Constitution.

As millions of American workers recommit to their unions and launch new organizing drives and as support for labor unions has risen to its highest level in years, it is shameful that the billionaire CEOs and corporate special interests behind this case have succeeded in manipulating the highest court in the land to do their bidding. This case was nothing more than a blatant political attack to further rig our economy and democracy against everyday Americans in favor of the wealthy and powerful.

Public service workers—teachers, social workers, firefighters, 911 operators—are more determined than ever to stick together in their unions. Unions remain the most effective vehicle for the power in numbers working people need to secure their rights and freedoms, and provide a pathway to the middle class. We will remain a strong and vibrant force for working people, and will continue fighting to sustain our families, improve our workplaces and to make our communities stronger regardless of the court’s ruling.  

Today’s decision sends our economy in the wrong direction. But it is also a rallying point. We call on elected leaders and candidates to do everything in their power to make it easier to unite in unions and build more power for all working people.

Union leader and member responses:

“Unions will always be the most effective force and vehicle to propel working people into the middle class. Despite this unprecedented and nefarious political attack – designed to further rig the rules against working people -- nothing changes the fact that America needs unions now more than ever. We are more resolved than ever to fight like hell to win for our members and the communities they care so much about. AFSCME members don’t do this work to get rich. They do it because it’s a calling -- and for that service, they deserve respect. They deserve the same freedoms as the CEOs and billionaires who continue to rig the rules against everyone else. The American labor movement lives on, and we’re going to be there every day, fighting hard for all working people, our freedoms and for our country.” - Lee Saunders, President, AFSCME

“No court case, win or lose, could ever change how important my work and service is to me and the community I care about. My union gives me the strength, freedom and the tools I need to help people and to provide for my family. That’s why I’ll always stick with my coworkers, no matter what. We’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing: organizing and talking to coworkers and community members, building power for working people.” - Stephen Mittons, AFSCME Council 31 member, Child Protection Investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services 

“Today’s radical decision by the Supreme Court is a blatant slap in the face for educators, nurses, firefighters, police officers and all public servants who make our communities strong and safe. We are living in a system that is rigged to benefit special interests and billionaires, all at the expense of working people. Those behind this case know that unions amplify workers’ voices and transform their words into powerful and collective action. Even though the Supreme Court sided with corporate CEOs and billionaires over working Americans, unions will continue to be the best vehicle on the path to the middle class.” - Lily Eskelsen García, President, National Education Association (NEA)

“Fine arts programs were being cut from my school and students were missing out on subjects like arts and music. My union negotiated with the district to bring back music so our students could have a well-rounded curriculum. When some school principals tried to renege on the agreement, as a union, we stepped up. Educators came together through our union and spoke out for what our kids need. Strong unions build strong schools and strong communities. We need unions now more than ever.” - Alex Price, band director and instrumental music teacher, Belmont High School and Wright Brothers Middle School in Dayton, Ohio

“This decision is yet another example of how billionaires rig the system against working people, but SEIU members won’t let the extremists behind this case divide us. We will stay united, help workers who are fighting to form unions, and call on our elected leaders to do everything in their power to make it easier for working people to join together in unions.” - Mary Kay Henry, President, SEIU

“My coworkers and I are not going to let this court decision stop us from sticking together in our union. We know that we are stronger together, and that matters when we are working to ensure our community is resilient when faced with disasters like earthquakes or floods. We won’t let any court case, billionaire, or propaganda campaign divide us.” - Sara Campos, Department of Human Services, SEIU Local 503 in Salem, Oregon

“Don’t count us out. While today the thirst for power trumped the aspirations and needs of communities and the people who serve them, workers are sticking with the union because unions are still the best vehicle working people have to get ahead. 

“Strong unions create strong communities. We will continue fighting, caring, showing up and voting, to make possible what is impossible for individuals acting alone. The teacher walkouts this spring, with educators fighting for the funding children need, were an example of how we will continue to make that case—in the halls of statehouses and the court of public opinion, in our workplaces and communities, and at the ballot box in November—through organizing, activism and members recommitting to their union.

“This is a dark day in U.S. jurisprudence. Swung by a Trump-appointed justice with a long history of ruling for the wealthy and corporations over regular people, the Supreme Court overturned a 40-year unanimously decided precedent that has given teachers and firefighters, nurses and cops, a path to a better life for themselves and their communities.

“More than forty years ago, the court recognized that collective bargaining for teachers and other public sector workers benefits those workers, their employers and their communities. Union representation, if chosen by a majority, is the glue that holds us together. That wisdom has now been abandoned by the slimmest majority.

“The dissenting justices saw this case for what it really was—a warping and weaponizing of the First Amendment, absent any evidence or reason, to hurt working people. Not only was Abood well within the mainstream of First Amendment law, it has been affirmed six times and applied to other cases upholding bar fees for lawyers and student activity fees at public colleges.” - Randi Weingarten, President, AFT

“Regardless of the Supreme Court ruling, the teachers in our district will stick together to make sure we have a say in the future of our kids. We are a small union in a rural and conservative part of Ohio. But nearly all of the teachers in our district are full dues-paying members—because we know that teachers’ ability to create a safe learning environment for kids and make teaching a viable profession comes directly from being part of a strong union.” - Holly Kimpon, a high school biology and anatomy teacher, AFT member and president of the Genoa Area Education Association in Ohio

AFSCME Condemns Unjust Ruling in Muslim Ban Case Tue, 26 Jun 2018 17:27:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement denouncing today’s unjust 5-4 decision in the Trump v. Hawaii U.S. Supreme Court case:

“Millions of working people of every race and creed place their trust in the United States Supreme Court to uphold core American values in its interpretation of our Constitution, and to enforce the checks and balances on executive power that a thriving democracy requires. That trust was violated once again today.

“The Court’s ruling today sends a dangerous message: the government is not required to treat all nationalities and religious faiths equally under the law, and the Chief Executive has the power to discriminate against any group of people under the guise of national security. This is a dangerous ruling, and a dark day for all those who strive to make this nation a land of opportunity and justice for all.”