Posted May 02, 2011
AFSCME corrections officers in Wisconsin join thousands of workers at the state Capitol in February to protest Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s union-busting bill. (Photo credit: Greg Dixon)
At a time when public service workers are under attack by anti-worker, anti-union politicians, National Correctional Officers and Employees Week (May 1 through 7) is an excellent opportunity to recognize the thousands of corrections officers across the country and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
These courageous and dedicated women and men work hard and perform heroic acts in very dangerous conditions, often risking their lives to keep our communities safe.
Yet, these officers continue to be used as scapegoats by politicians who blame public service workers for budget problems they did not create.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed a union-busting bill stripping corrections officers and other public employees of collective bargaining rights. Twenty-one other states are considering the same measure.
More than a dozen states, notably Ohio and Michigan, are also using state budget shortfalls as an excuse to privatize corrections and shift core responsibilities to companies that are motivated by profit, not service.
Right-to-work laws – designed to weaken unions – are currently considered in Indiana, Minnesota and 14 other states.
Last year, corrections officers in Iowa opened up their contracts to accept a week of mandatory, unpaid days and the temporary elimination of deferred compensation allotments.
To help find solutions to states’ economic problems, corrections officers along with other public service workers have made sacrifices because they care and they are proud of the work they do.
In observance of this special week, national steering committee members of AFSCME Corrections United (ACU) are in Washington, DC to talk about these critical challenges and plan for the battles ahead. They will also make a renewed effort to win passage of the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act (S.3991), which would grant collective bargaining rights to law enforcement officers across the country, including corrections officers, emergency medical technicians, police and firefighters. Last year, the U.S. House passed the bill but the Senate failed to take action.
“All workers deserve the freedom to be in a union and collectively bargain,” says Sgt. First Class Chet Millard, a veteran of both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a Wisconsin corrections officer (AFSCME Council 24, Local 219). For Millard, the attack on workers’ rights in Wisconsin is an attack on the freedoms he fought to protect as a member of our armed services.
“We are proud of the difficult work they do,” declares Pres. Gerald W. McEntee. “Too often, their voice and experience are undervalued by those in government who seek to privatize their jobs or cut their pay and benefits. We salute their brave and dedicated service. We will continue to fight for them and the valuable work they do for all of us.”
Read more about corrections issues in the latest ACU News.
Posted May 02, 2011
The 1,300 sanitation workers who participated in the historic 1968 strike in Memphis, Tennessee — members of AFSCME Local 1733 — were enshrined into the U.S. Department of Labor’s “Labor Hall of Fame” on April 29, 2011. Eight of the original strikers attended the induction ceremony before a full house in the Grand Hall of the Department of Labor in Washington, DC, and connected their struggle to attacks that continue to be waged against workers today.
Posted April 29, 2011
President Barack Obama talks with participants from the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike, an iconic campaign in civil rights and labor rights history, during a meeting in the Map Room of the White House, April 29, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson.)
From the White House:
The President met today at the White House with eight participants in the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike, an iconic campaign in civil rights and labor rights history, when public workers banded together for dignity, respect and a better life. Dr. King and leaders of the civil rights movement joined these men 43 years ago on the picket line, recognizing that economic justice and social justice are part of the same aspiration for human dignity.
The President invited the living participants in the Memphis Sanitation Strike to honor their courage, and their fight on behalf of all workers for safe conditions, respect in the workplace and a better life for themselves and their families. As workers across the country continue to face challenges to their rights, the issues for which these men fought continue to be relevant and the President remains committed to the causes for which they marched.
Posted April 29, 2011
Guitarist, singer and songwriter Tom Morello was an early supporter of the massive protests against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union bill and performed at the Capitol Square in Madison in February. That experience led him to produce a new EP, “Union Town,” consisting of 8 pro-union songs, with all profits to benefit the America Votes Labor Unity Fund.
“I was so inspired by what I saw in Madison,” Morello told the Los Angeles Times. “It seems very much like we’re at an important crossroad and that this movement was not just about stopping some bad legislation, but possibly harnessing the energy of 100,000 to 150,000 people who were in the streets and want to put some teeth back in the labor movement in the U.S.”
Morello is one of the original members of the bands Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, and released his first solo album as The Nightwatchman in 2007. “Union Town” will be available digitally on May 17th and on CD/vinyl on July 19th. For more information, visit SaveWorkers.org.
Posted April 28, 2011
Crossposted from Working America’s Main Street blog.
It’s Workers Memorial Day — a time to honor, or at least stop and think about, the workers who have lost their lives on the job. While the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) has greatly decreased the number of workplace deaths and injuries in the 40 years since it was passed, there are still too many.
Big explosions and disasters draw headlines and attention, but many more workers lose their lives in ways that don’t get widespread notice — but are no less painful for their families and friends.
The AFL-CIO’s Death on the Job (PDF) report finds that:
In 2009, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,340 workers were killed on the job—an average of 12 workers every day—and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases. More than 4.1 million work-related injuries and illnesses were reported, but this number understates the problem. The true toll of job injuries is two to three times greater—about 8 million to 12 million job injuries and illnesses each year.
The risks are not evenly distributed. Workers are much more likely to be killed in some states than others:
The risk of job fatalities and injuries varies widely from state to state, in part due to the mix of industries. Montana led the country with the highest fatality rate (10.8 per 100,000), followed by Louisiana and North Dakota (7.2), Wyoming (6.8) and Nebraska (6.1). The lowest state fatality rate (0.9 per 100,000) was reported in New Hampshire, followed by Rhode Island (1.4), Arizona (1.8), Massachusetts (1.8) and Delaware (1.8). This compares with a preliminary national fatality rate of 3.3 per 100,000 workers in 2009.
And Latino workers have an increased risk of fatalities: 3.7 per 100,000 workers as opposed to that national rate of 3.3.
The penalties for violations and fatalities are too low to deter employers from risking their workers’ lives:
For FY 2010, the median initial total penalty in fatality cases investigated by federal OSHA was $7,000, with a median penalty after settlement of $5,600.
That’s in cases where someone died. The average penalty for a serious violation of the law just on its own was $1,052 for federal OSHA.
Penalties also vary state by state:
Oregon had the lowest median current penalty for fatality investigations, with $1,500 in penalties assessed, followed by Wyoming ($2,063) and Kentucky ($2,275). New Hampshire had the highest median current penalty ($142,000), followed by Minnesota ($26,050) and Missouri ($21,000).
Criminal investigations? Forget about it:
Since 1970, only 84 cases have been prosecuted, with defendants serving a total of 89 months in jail. During this time there were more than 360,000 worker deaths. By comparison, in FY 2010 there were 346 criminal enforcement cases initiated under federal environmental laws and 289 defendants charged, resulting in 72 years of jail time and $41 million in penalties—more cases, fines and jail time in one year than during OSHA’s entire history.
On Workers Memorial Day, the best way to honor workers who have lost their lives on the job is to fight to prevent future workplace fatalities. That means more funding for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Mine Safety and Health Administration. More inspectors checking to make sure workplaces are safe, not less. More prosecutions and higher penalties, to give employers added reason to think twice about committing safety violations (and how sad is it that workers’ lives are not enough reason). And passing the Protecting America’s Workers Act (PDF) to update OSHA and fill some of its gaps.
Posted April 26, 2011
AFSCME is fighting back against a misleading report released by The Pew Center on the States on public pensions entitled The Widening Gap. In a press release, President Gerald W. McEntee said that the report reflects “ancient history, distorts the true state of public pension funds and is of limited use for anyone hoping to make informed public policy.”
While our opponents are certainly going to use the report as an excuse to portray the public pension system as “broken” and in need of “reform”, the facts don’t back that up.
The Pew report provides a snapshot of public pensions from June 2009, near the very depth of the market during the recession. It simply does not accurately reflect the current state of public pensions.
The real estate and stock market crash of 2008 and 2009 took its toll on all investors. However, while individual investors are still struggling to recover from these losses, pension funds are well on their way to recovery.
Rather than rely on the stale numbers provided in the Pew report, we should instead examine the current state of public pensions in 2011. Just this month the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems released much more relevant data in a member survey assessing the health of public pensions. Here are some of the key findings from the survey:
- In the past year, public pension fund investments have produced an average return of 13.5% and now have a 20-year average annual return of 8.2%.
- Investment returns are the single most significant source of pension funding — comprising 66% of fund revenues.
- The vast majority of public pension plans are managed responsibly and currently maintain strong funding levels. Public pensions are, on average, 75.7% funded and, with market recovery, that number will continue to increase.
Our opponents would also have you believe that our members are receiving lavish pensions at no cost. The reality is that AFSCME members receive, on average, just $19,000 per year in pension benefits, while members’ contributions and investment returns pay 70%-80% of the total cost.
Posted April 18, 2011
The following entry is part of a week-long series from our friends at Demos on a simple, yet too-often forgotten idea: Taxes Matter. They’ve taken a fresh look at some of the reigning beliefs, policy ideas and assumptions about taxes. All of it is worth reading. Go to: http://www.ourfiscalsecurity.org/taxes-matter/ for more.
Illustration by Maxwell Holyoke-Hirsch. Courtesy of Demos.
Imagine if Tea Party activists waved posters proclaiming their demands to “Shutter Our Schools” or “Pollute Our Air” or “Let Children Go Hungry.”
Those messages would have relegated them to the margins of our political space – and then quickly to the dustbin of history — rather than defining them as the politically potent force they’ve become.
Yet, is calling for “Zero Taxes” or to “Stop Taxing Us” so different? Does that not also demand that we ultimately abandon the very core of what has made America the land of opportunity, freedom and security? The problem is, without the public systems and structures that taxes pay for, America as we know and love it would cease to exist.
No matter what kind of place we call home—rural, city, suburb—our aspirations and expectations are inextricably linked with the public systems that provide for our quality of life. The basics of what we need to raise our families and to run successful businesses are now so ingrained in our daily lives that we take their existence for granted.
When we turn on our faucets, drinkable water flows. When we buy meat at the supermarket, it doesn’t make us sick. When we drive down the road, it doesn’t collapse under us. When we sit on a jury, we can free the innocent and put the bad guys away. When we send our kids to school, we know there’ll be teachers, textbooks and computers so they can learn. When we put our money in the bank, we know it’ll be there when we need it.
We live in America, dammit. Things work here. But, as certain as we are that things should be this way, we forget. We forget that environmental protections and fire stations, that public school standards, that clean air and safe drinking water, that banking regulations and Social Security checks—are all only possible because we, as Americans, have chosen to create these governmental structures and systems. And we have chosen to pool our resources to pay for them. We have chosen to do together what we cannot do alone.
Our Taxes Matter
We don’t have to love paying taxes, but we should at a minimum respect and acknowledge why we pay them. Yet without a single drop of irony, Tea Party members hold up their “Zero Taxes” posters on street curbs maintained with local government funding, lit with publicly-funded street lights, in front of public traffic signs, near publicly-maintained roads to protest efforts to fund our public goods.
They are not the first to miss the irony. For more than a generation, anti-tax zealots have promoted the idea that we’d all be better off if we each spent our money in whatever way we want. A favorite meme of the tax-cutters is that the American people know best how to spend their money—not the government. What they don’t explain is how each one of us alone is to maintain the highways, collect the trash, build and run our schools and colleges, establish and maintain our courts—basically keep a country of 300 million people not just functioning, but flourishing.
If you’ve already filed your taxes, thank you for supporting America. If you’re one of the millions who will be racing against the clock until midnight tonight, here’s some consolation: Your Taxes Matter.
Posted April 15, 2011
It was standing-room only as a crowd of hundreds of city workers debunked claims about skyrocketing pension costs in San Jose.
Phrases like “actuarial reports” and “unfunded liabilities” didn’t stop over 200 workers in San Jose, Calif., from foregoing their lunch hour to hear the truth about pensions. AFSCME members recently held this “Straight Talk on Retirement” event in response to claims that skyrocketing pension costs are to blame for budget woes.
“The mayor and city manager are wrong about pensions,” explained Yolanda Cruz, a library worker and president of AFSCME Local 101. “Instead of coming together to find solutions, they are attacking working people.”
As San Jose attempts to tackle a $115 million budget deficit, politicians like Mayor Chuck Reed have heightened their rhetoric against the men and women who serve residents in community centers, libraries and police stations across the city.
Despite the hype, the facts are that the average pension is a modest $36,000 for non-public safety employees — who also do not receive Social Security. San Jose city workers join a growing chorus of public service employees across the country and telling politicians to stop the lies.
Watch this report from KCBS in San Francisco for more:
Posted April 15, 2011
Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s heavy-handed tactics to destroy unions have progressively eroded his popular support. What he probably didn’t count on was that his anti-worker policies would end up alienating some of the very businesses that endorsed him as a candidate.
Witness Ohio’s Chamber of Commerce, whose members are breaking off over the organization’s endorsement of SB5, a bill to strip away the rights of nearly 365,000 public service workers in the state.
But just as some businesses begin to realize the implications of Kasich’s destructive agenda, many others are joining AFSCME’s Proud Ohio Workers program. The initiative was launched to help merchants across the state show that they recognize public employee support for their shops. Merchants can show their support for public employees in return by affixing a “Proud Ohio Workers” sticker to a window in the front of their store.
“The outpouring of support we’ve received from the business community shows the far-reaching consequences of these extreme proposals to cut worker’s rights, wages and benefits,” said Ohio Civil Services Association (OCSEA/AFSCME Local 11) President Eddie L. Parks. “In Ohio, businesses know Senate Bill 5 will have a direct impact on their bottom line and on the health of our local economies.”
“Small businesses understand SB5 will lead to the elimination of lots of jobs in local communities,” AFSCME spokesperson Dennis Willard told TPM. “When that happens, because public sector jobs like all jobs drive the economy, these merchants are really concerned they’re going to lose business.”
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Jon Husted Friday certified that We Are Ohio, the group seeking a state referendum on SB 5, has met the initial 1,000-signature requirement on each of the two petitions they filed to qualify for the ballot in November. Join the fight to protect workers rights in Ohio and help gather the necessary signatures to put SB 5 on the ballot – and repeal it.
Posted April 14, 2011
In office just 100 days, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has proven he has a lot to learn about running a government that benefits all Floridians — not just his Big Business friends. That’s the conclusion of a 100-day report card issued Wednesday by Fight for Florida, a group fighting the governor’s assault on basic American values that is harming the middle class.
In press events throughout the state — including Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Tallahassee, and Tampa — activists laid bare Gov. Scott’s record for all to see. It comes down to “unsatisfactory performance” in four categories: leadership, staff relations, cost effectiveness, and integrity.
Just take his decision in February to reject $2.4 billion in federal funds for high-speed rail between Tampa and Orlando. That, alone, would have created more than 20,000 good American jobs.
Rising unemployment while Scott and his supporters in the Legislature cut the state’s work force, plus changes to employment benefits that amount to an income tax for public service workers, also hurt Scott’s performance grade.
Posted April 14, 2011
Republicans in the U.S. House invited Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) to testify before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing today, giving him the stage to explain why attacking workers’ rights and middle class jobs helps fix broken state budgets.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) took advantage of the opportunity to get Walker to admit that several items in his so-called budget repair bill that repealed the right of public employees to bargain for middle class jobs had nothing to do with balancing the state’s budget.
Kucinich repeatedly asked Walker about a requirement that forces workers and unions to hold annual votes to maintain their union, along with other items. “How does that save the state any money?” Walker tried to evade the question, with help from committee chair Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), but finally admitted:
It doesn’t save any money.
Watch the video here:
Posted April 14, 2011
Michiganders rally at the Capitol in Lansing on Wednesday to oppose Gov. Snyder’s anti-worker budget plan. (Photo by Jon Melegrito)
More than 7,000 Michigan residents from throughout the state rallied at the Capitol in Lansing on Wednesday, angry that Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s anti-worker budget plan cuts education, imposes a new tax on seniors’ pensions and gives $1.8 billion in tax breaks to corporations.
“Attacking child care workers like me is not the solution to our financial problems,” said Robin Edwards, a child care worker who spoke at the rally. “Denying us a voice and bargaining rights won’t create a single job. This is our house. It’s time for our leaders to start working together, stop attacking middle class families, and start creating quality jobs for Michigan workers.”
Edwards was part of a broad coalition of public service workers, students, seniors and supporters who want Snyder to pay attention to the needs of middle class Americans, not just to the governor’s Big Business and Wall Street benefactors.
Legislative committees, convening after two weeks of paid vacation, will soon begin to vote on Snyder’s budget plan, which includes nearly $800 million in cuts to K-12 and higher education. It also would eliminate the Earned Income Tax Credit for working families, and impose other draconian cuts that will hurt the state’s economy.
As House Fiscal Agency Dir. Mitch Bean said last week at the Michigan Municipal League’s Conference on the Budget, “There is no guarantee that Gov. Rick Snyder’s tax plan would translate into job increases.”
“Politicians are unfairly exploiting the economic crisis to tear apart our community instead of working together to find creative solutions that will build a strong Michigan and a vibrant economy with thriving businesses,” said Kyle Holmes, a small business owner who also spoke at the rally. “I am eager to be a partner in making our community and our state strong and economically healthy.”
Posted April 14, 2011
In an interview with the New York Times published Wednesday, AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee talks about how attacks on public service workers in the states have energized union members and our allies to engage with anti-worker politicians in a growing battle over workers’ rights.
“Look at the crowds that came out to protest in Wisconsin: 50,000, 70,000, 100,000. These people are jazzed up. They’re ready to do battle,” said McEntee.
He goes on to point out that AFSCME is on offense, not defense, pointing to public opinion polls that show growing public support for unions over anti-worker politicians.
This national trend is clearly evident among AFSCME members in Florida who have spent the entire year fighting back against unprecedented attacks by Gov. Rick Scott and other anti-worker politicians. The latest fight in Florida is over a bill prohibiting automatic payroll deduction to collect union dues from public employees.
In Wednesday’s Tallahassee Democrat, AFSCME Council 79 President Jeanette Wynn wrote an editorial setting the record straight and showing that this legislation is nothing more than a direct attack on workers’ rights.
“It is a coordinated, well-thought-out effort to crush unions, silence the voices of working men and women and, in doing all of that, cripple the middle class,” writes Wynn.
While mobilizing in record numbers to fight back against this and other ill-conceived legislation, AFSCME members in Florida also are taking the offensive and scoring some points.
Gov. Rick Scott has proposed privatizing the state’s Medicaid program, a move from which firms such as Solantic, a private sector urgent care chain founded by Scott, could reap a major financial windfall. AFSCME has been at the forefront efforts to draw attention to this clear conflict of interest. Last Friday, AFSCME members and our allies organized protests in front of Solantic clinics across the state. On Monday, Scott announced that his family would divest itself of a $62 million stake in the company.
Posted April 12, 2011
Today, in the midst of budget cuts to libraries across the country, we celebrate National Library Workers Day and recognize the important services provided by library workers under increasingly difficult circumstances.
The American Library Association issued their State of America’s Libraries 2011 report yesterday, noting that Americans are using libraries more than ever to get help finding a job or launching their own business. The report also details the funding challenges faced by libraries — 19 states reported cuts in state funding for public libraries, and of these, more than half saw cuts greater than 10 percent. But there is some good news: when the issue is brought to a ballot, voters overwhelmingly choose to entrust libraries with tax dollars.
In a recent Washington Post story, AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Lee A. Saunders warned against shortsighted plans to privatize libraries:
“Privatization often sticks the community with the risk while privatizing the profits. Private contractors can — and too often do — shortchange the public by cutting corners, hiring less qualified staff and paying lower wages”
For valuable information about libraries and library workers, check the AFL-CIO’s Library Workers: Facts & Figures 2010 fact sheet. Follow @AFSCMELibraries on Twitter for more throughout National Library Week.
Posted April 12, 2011
In a continued effort to dismantle the retirement security net of American workers, extreme right ideologues have perpetuated the myth that public pensions are a drag on the economy. They insist that switching to a 401(k) plan would magically end with unfunded liabilities and budget problems across the states.
They’re wrong. Witness Minnesota, where a recent study by the Minnesota Public Retirement Systems dispels the notion that privatizing public service workers’ retirement is a good deal for American workers.
According to the report, the shift would cost taxpayers more than $2.7 billion over the next decade. It also concludes that pensions “can provide the same level of income at roughly half the costs” of a 401(k) plan.
As a recent editorial from the Minnesota Star Tribune states, the “move would shift the risk associated with future market downturn from pension funds and the taxpayers to workers themselves.”
At the national level, the median account balance of all 401(k) accounts is less than $13,000, a mere fraction of what is needed for a secure retirement. In aggregate, the gap between what Americans have saved and what they will need in retirement has been calculated at $6.6 trillion.
It is astounding that pundits and ideologues insist on promoting 401(k) plans that have not delivered on their promise and threaten the retirement security of millions of Americans.
Minnesota public state workers led by AFSCME Council 5 already fixed a $4 billion funding gap by raising employer and employee contributions. The council also supported legislation in 2010 that resulted in a $6 billion reduction in pension costs.
As the Star Tribune editorial says, “Those moves are paying off nicely in stabilizing the pension funds. Already, combined with the improving stock market, they have shaved unfunded liabilities by more than a third.”
Public service workers have repeatedly led by example when it comes to finding real solutions to our budget problems. It is time for the corporate-funded proponents of failed alternatives such as 401(k) plans to do the same.
Posted April 12, 2011
AFSCME members join thousands of workers from across Ohio vowing to veto SB 5 in November. (Photo courtesy AFSCME Council 8)
More than 11,000 Ohioans descended on the grounds of the Statehouse to kick off the next stage in their fight to repeal Senate Bill 5, the antidemocratic bill that would strip 365,000 public service workers of their collective bargaining rights.
“I think Ohioans have had more than enough of [Ohio Governor] John Kasich playing politics, instead of being a leader,” said AFSCME Council 8 President John Lyall during the weekend rally. “From what I see here today, people from across Ohio are ready to take matters into their own hands with a citizen’s veto of SB 5. I know Council 8 members will do their part and more.”
This heavy-handed, anti-worker attack is being strongly rejected by a majority of Ohioans. It’s time to express that sentiment at the polls and do away with this destructive legislation.
The We Are Ohio campaign is aiming to collect over 230,000 valid signatures and put a citizen’s veto of SB 5 on the ballot next November. If you are in Ohio and want to join the fight for workers’ rights, sign up here to help circulate petitions.
Posted April 11, 2011
AFSCME members are not taking a spring break from ongoing efforts to demonstrate the depth and breadth of public opposition to plans to slash public services and attack the rights of workers. With huge turnout for rallies held in the past week, and more activity planned for the week to come, AFSCME activists are working overtime to keep the momentum going. Here are a handful of reports on events held this weekend:
- Ohio – More than 11,000 protesters gathered at the Statehouse in Columbus to kick off the “We Are Ohio” campaign, the largest crowd at the capitol since SB 5, Kasich’s anti-worker bill, was introduced back in February. The new campaign is supporting a citizen’s veto of SB 5 by fighting to put repeal language on the November ballot. Last week, the campaign submitted 3,000 signatures and ballot language to the Secretary of State, the first steps needed to get on the ballot. “I think Ohioans have had more than enough of John Kasich playing politics, instead of being a leader,” said AFSCME Council 8 President John Lyall. “From what I see here today, people from across Ohio are ready to take matters into their own hands with a citizens veto of SB 5.”
- New York – Thousands gathered in Times Square on Saturday, not to ring in the New Year, but to protest the threats against working families as part of the “We Are One” rallies. Raglan George, Executive Director of District Council 1707 and Lillian Roberts, Executive Director of District Council 37, were among many voices speaking out in solidarity against efforts to strip workers of their rights and slash funding for critical public services.
- Illinois – In the Second City, thousands gathered in Downtown Chicago to support workers’ rights and stand in solidarity with their neighbors in Wisconsin. The Chicago rally capped off a week of more than a dozen smaller events throughout Illinois this week coordinated as part of the national “We Are One” campaign being organized by the AFL-CIO and allied groups.
- Washington – AFSCME members and our allies are fighting to ensure that the budget is not balanced on the backs on working families. On Friday, 7,000 protestors packed the capitol in Olympia to demand that legislators close tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthy before cutting vital public services. “We did not lose $20 trillion. It was those geniuses on Wall Street,” Carol Dotlich, president of the Washington Federation of State Employees, told the crowd.
AFSCME members are not letting up this week either. Another huge rally is planned in Lansing, Michigan on Wednesday to protest Governor Snyder’s budget and privatization proposals.
Posted April 08, 2011
For the second time this year, doctors in California have voted to join the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
On Wednesday, April 6, a unit of 60 medical doctors working in public clinics and hospitals in Kern County voted for union representation by UAPD, the nation’s largest union representing licensed doctors in the U.S. This win comes on the heels of 78 medical professionals (medical doctors, dentists and nurse practitioners) at the Northeast Valley Community Health Care Clinics in Los Angeles, CA voting to join UAPD in March.
Doctors and other medical professionals are seeking to join UAPD for a wide-range of reasons, including to regain control over the quality of medical care they provide to the public.
AFSCME — the nation’s largest union of public service workers — has long led the fight to improve the nation’s health care system. In addition to advocating for improving workplace conditions and ensuring quality delivery of care for America’s health care providers, the union has been a leading champion of health care reforms to benefit all Americans.
Posted April 08, 2011
Republicans in the U.S. House are threatening to shut down the federal government if Democrats don’t concede to their proposals to slash critical public services. Perhaps members of the GOP have short memories and can’t recall just how much voters disliked the similar game of chicken they played during the winter of 1995/96. Or maybe this is just part of their ongoing effort to turn back the clock and erase decades of American progress.
We know that a federal government shutdown would lead to the furlough of hundreds of thousands of federal workers and the cancellation of services deemed “non-essential.” But the impact on the economy could go even further if the shutdown lasts for more than a few days.
State and local budgets would be put under even greater stress. Uncertainty caused by the government’s inability to regulate financial markets or even to provide critical data that allows the housing market to operate could bring our fragile economy recovery to a grinding halt.
The new House leaders are so committed to protecting tax breaks for their corporate donors that they are about to shut down the federal government rather than compromise. Instead, they are demanding a budget that would destroy public services, jobs, K-12 schools, public safety and more.
With so much at stake in this debate, it is time to come together to find real solutions that allow us to move forward.
Posted April 07, 2011
Thanks to the efforts of AFSCME Council 79, committed coalition partners, countless members of the community who value quality health care, and members of the Florida Legislature — led by Sen. Charlie Dean — plans to privatize the Northeast Florida State Hospital are off the table.
“Yesterday’s action by the Florida Senate stripping language to private Northeast Florida State Hospital is a blessing to the community and a blow to Governor Scott, an army of high-priced lobbyists, and proponents of privatization everywhere,” said Council 79 President Jeanette Wynn.
“Lawmakers and the community have stood up to the Governor and his plans to slash the jobs and services of the men and women who have long served Floridians. We pledge to fight each and every one of his dangerous plans that will cut jobs and diminish services.”
Wynn praised the efforts of anti-privatization legislative ally Sen. Dean.
“Senator Dean has done everything he can — whenever he can — to save public services. I don’t know if we could have prevented the hospital from getting into the clutches of privateers without his leadership. Senator Dean’s first-hand knowledge of the perils of privatization and his willingness to fight against it makes us thankful to have him on our side of this issue.”
The effort to privatize the hospital is just one of many dangerous proposals in Gov. Rick Scott’s budget. The $70 billion Scott budget calls for severe cuts to public education, reductions in benefits for state workers and payroll, and rampant privatization of mental health facilities.
Northeast Florida State Hospital is Baker County’s largest employer.