AFSCME.org Press Release Feed http://www.afscme.org/rss/press-releases AFSCME.org Press Releases Tue, 3 May 2011 05:00:00 +0000 AMPS en hourly 1 Elissa McBride Re-Elected AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/elissa-mcbride-re-elected-afscme-secretary-treasurer Thu, 19 Jul 2018 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/elissa-mcbride-re-elected-afscme-secretary-treasurer 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.”

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AFSCME Members Kick Off 43rd International Convention http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-members-kick-off-43rd-international-convention Mon, 16 Jul 2018 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-members-kick-off-43rd-international-convention 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.

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AFSCME Opposes Trump Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for United States Supreme Court http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-opposes-trump-nomination-of-brett-kavanaugh-for-united-states-supreme-court Mon, 09 Jul 2018 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-opposes-trump-nomination-of-brett-kavanaugh-for-united-states-supreme-court 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.”

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Lee Saunders: Congress Must Not Seat Another Justice to Supreme Court Until After November http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/congress-must-not-seat-another-justice-to-supreme-court-until-after-november Wed, 27 Jun 2018 17:54:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/congress-must-not-seat-another-justice-to-supreme-court-until-after-november 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.”

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America Needs Unions Now More than Ever As Supreme Court Sides with Corporate Billionaires Rigging Economy Against Workers http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/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 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/america-needs-unions-now-more-than-ever-as-supreme-court-sides-with-corporate-billionaires-rigging-economy-against-workers 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

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AFSCME Condemns Unjust Ruling in Muslim Ban Case http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-condemns-unjust-ruling-in-muslim-ban-case Tue, 26 Jun 2018 17:27:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-condemns-unjust-ruling-in-muslim-ban-case 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.”

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AFSCME Opposes Proposal to Merge Departments of Education and Labor http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-opposes-proposal-to-merge-departments-of-education-and-labor Thu, 21 Jun 2018 16:19:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-opposes-proposal-to-merge-departments-of-education-and-labor AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued this statement following the Trump administration’s proposal to merge the Department of Labor and the Department of Education into one federal agency:

“The U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Education are each tasked with a mission that is distinctly defined and unique to the needs of America’s working people and students. One agency exists to ‘foster, promote, and develop the welfare of wage earners, job seekers, and retirees … improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.’ The other seeks to ‘promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering education excellence and ensuring equal access.’ The success of each of these agency’s pursuit of its mission is critical to our success as a nation and the future of working families.

“The proposal to merge these two agencies is wholly inappropriate and ill-advised, especially at a time when workers and students are struggling to get ahead. This latest attack on the federal civil service underscores this administration’s utter disregard for the mission of these two vital agencies and lack of respect for the dedicated public service workers who carry out the work of the American people every day.”

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AFSCME Condemns Immoral Trump Policy of Separating Children from Parents at Southern Border http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-condemns-immoral-trump-policy-of-separating-children-from-parents-at-southern-border Wed, 20 Jun 2018 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-condemns-immoral-trump-policy-of-separating-children-from-parents-at-southern-border AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement announcing AFSCME has co-signed a complaint to the United Nations Commission for Human Rights in response to the Trump administration’s inhumane policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border:

“AFSCME members make caring for families and communities their life’s work. From social workers to nurses to school bus drivers to first responders, public service workers do not choose their profession just to support their own families, but to keep all children and families healthy and safe. Like the vast majority of Americans, we are horrified by the Trump administration’s immoral policy of forcibly separating innocent children from their parents at the border. As parents, public service workers and American citizens, we cannot bear to see these injustices carried out in our name.

“This inhumane policy is a cruel choice that does not make us safer, and it does not make us great. There is no law that mandates traumatizing children, only the prerogative of this president. AFSCME has co-signed a complaint to the United Nations Commission for Human Rights, and we join the bipartisan calls for basic human decency: Mr. President, end this policy today.”

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AFSCME President Lee Saunders on 2018 Social Security and Medicare Trustee Reports http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-president-lee-saunders-on-2018-social-security-and-medicare-trustee-reports Tue, 05 Jun 2018 17:32:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-president-lee-saunders-on-2018-social-security-and-medicare-trustee-reports AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the 2018 Social Security and Medicare Trustee reports:

“At a time of instability, uncertainty and rising income inequality, vital programs like Social Security and Medicare are more important than ever. Today’s report shows that Social Security and Medicare continue to be strong and are working for our communities. America should double down and expand these programs. We need to continue our commitment to the fundamental promise that after decades of hard work Americans should be able to retire with dignity and see a doctor when they need to.

“Attacks on Social Security and Medicare represent a dangerous political choice to serve corporate interests and manipulate the rules of our economy against working people. AFSCME members are on the front lines of our communities, working and fighting to keep them healthy and strong. We stand against the continued efforts by some members of Congress and the administration to hand out tax cuts to the wealthy and balloon the deficit to justify taking a sledgehammer to the retirement and health programs millions of Americans depend on every day.”

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AFSCME Joins Federal Employee Lawsuit Against Trump Administration http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-joins-federal-employee-lawsuit-against-trump-administration Fri, 01 Jun 2018 18:22:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-joins-federal-employee-lawsuit-against-trump-administration AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement announcing AFSCME’s motion filed today in federal court:

“Today, the 1.6 million members of AFSCME joined together with their AFGE sisters and brothers in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of President Trump’s executive orders, which attacked the rights of public service workers in the federal government. By instructing a federal agency to bargain in bad faith with its own workers, Trump has not only disrespected the people who take pride in keeping our country safe and healthy, he has also instructed his government to break the law and violated his own constitutionally mandated duty of care. Public service workers in our federal government are dedicated to improving America’s communities and they faithfully execute the laws of our country every day. We demand that the president of the United States be held to the same standard.”

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AFSCME President Lee Saunders on Trump’s Executive Order to Undermine Federal Employees http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-president-lee-saunders-on-trump-executive-order-to-undermine-federal-employees Fri, 25 May 2018 17:23:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-president-lee-saunders-on-trump-executive-order-to-undermine-federal-employees “It is shameful that this administration continues to undermine the important services and vital contributions our federal workers provide to the American people every day. These workers protect our national security and ensure that our communities run smoothly. For their service they deserve respect, not a constant barrage of attacks on their freedom to join together in strong unions and speak up together to deliver better services.”

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President Lee Saunders on the Supreme Court Decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/president-lee-saunders-on-the-supreme-court-decision-in-epic-systems-corp-v-lewis Mon, 21 May 2018 14:26:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/president-lee-saunders-on-the-supreme-court-decision-in-epic-systems-corp-v-lewis AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis.

“The Supreme Court today chose to perpetuate and reinforce the rigged system that allows wealthy corporations to rake in profits by undermining workers’ rights.

“By ruling that companies can force employees into lengthy and expensive one-on-one arbitration procedures instead of allowing them to pursue class-action grievances, the Court is preventing workers from building power in numbers. It will now be harder for low-wage workers in particular to have access to justice, to recoup wages they’re owed, to fight sexual harassment and more.

“It is our hope that, in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, another case currently under Supreme Court deliberation, the justices will choose to re-affirm rather than impair the freedom of working people.”

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Lee Saunders: AFSCME Members Nationwide Stand in Solidarity with Striking UC Employees http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/lee-saunders-afscme-members-nationwide-stand-in-solidarity-with-striking-uc-employees Tue, 08 May 2018 17:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/lee-saunders-afscme-members-nationwide-stand-in-solidarity-with-striking-uc-employees The following statement was issued by AFSCME President Lee Saunders on the University of California employees' strike:

“University of California employees never quit working hard to strengthen their campuses and communities. For their commitment to public service, they deserve the respect of fair wages and fair treatment. Instead, they are held down by a system of entrenched inequality that’s driven by outsourcing, with women and workers of color paid substantially less than their white male peers, and a disproportionate share of pay increases going to the wealthiest university officials.

“It’s hard enough for working families in California to stay afloat, with the cost of housing and other living expenses spiraling out of reach. These race- and gender-based pay inequities, which the administration is refusing to address, are making a challenging situation untenable for so many university employees.

“With no progress after more than a year of negotiations, members of Local 3299 have no choice but to go on a three-day strike. AFSCME members nationwide stand in solidarity with our California sisters and brothers in their struggle for racial and economic justice.”

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AFSCME President Lee Saunders Slams Puerto Rico Oversight Board Plan http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-president-lee-saunders-slams-puerto-rico-oversight-board-plan Fri, 20 Apr 2018 16:19:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-president-lee-saunders-slams-puerto-rico-oversight-board-plan The following statement was issued by AFSCME President Lee Saunders following the release of the federally-appointed Puerto Rico fiscal oversight board’s financial plan:

“The Fiscal Plan issued by the Oversight Board is a betrayal of the people of Puerto Rico. By issuing a plan that relies upon unrealistic projections of economic growth, the Board is condemning Puerto Rico to economic decline for years to come. Ironically, the Board is engaging in the same fantastical thinking regarding Puerto Rico’s economic growth that created the current situation. We call on the Board to reconsider this disastrous decision and develop a plan in the interests of the people.”

Background on the Financial Oversight and Management Board plan:

The new fiscal plan certified by the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico on April 19 is based on unrealistically-optimistic assumptions of economic growth and related revenue collection. Despite the catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Maria and a projected 12-percent decline in population, the plan purports to generate a six-year surplus of $6.7 billion in part due to severe cuts in public-employee compensation and pensions. Although federal recovery funds will undoubtedly produce higher short-term growth due to the stimulative effect of rebuilding, in the long term the certified fiscal plan will fail to overcome the negative effects of austerity measures and put Puerto Rico on a path to a second restructuring. The anticipated large payouts to creditors and bondholders can only be achieved by reducing assistance to the poor and cutting the compensation of workers. Once Puerto Rico begins to struggle under the certified fiscal plan and the projections are not achieved, a new round of cuts to workers and services will ensue and Puerto Rico will be forced to turn to the PROMESA process again.

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Roselló’s ‘Out of State Program’ Will Increase Puerto Rico Deficit http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/rosellos-out-of-state-program-will-increase-puerto-rico-deficit Fri, 13 Apr 2018 15:36:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/rosellos-out-of-state-program-will-increase-puerto-rico-deficit The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and its Puerto Rico affiliate, Servidores Públicos Unidos de Puerto Rico, sent a letter to the PROMESA oversight board on April 12, outlining several distortions and critical omissions in Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s April 5 justification of the so-called “Out of State Program.” The plan would hurt Puerto Rico’s struggling economy by offshoring jobs, lead to lower tax collections, and ultimately balloon the commonwealth’s substantial operating deficit.

The Puerto Rico Department of Corrections has made clear that it does not intend to wait for the Oversight Board to certify the governor’s plan. A Request For Proposal has been sent out to bidders. The department has announced that on April 24, it will hold a mandatory meeting for private prison company bidders.

In all three iterations of Rosselló’s fiscal plan, he fails to justify the so-called cost reductions claimed in this program. Instead, the governor has invented savings estimates and cited misleading figures in an effort to push through with his flawed plan, and he refuses to answer critics, including 35 members of Congress who recently penned a letter opposing his privatization scheme. In its letter to the Oversight Board, AFSCME cites the inaccuracies proffered by the governor and provides sources for each of its critiques. 

“We are frustrated and outraged that Governor Rosselló continues to make bogus claims that his privatization scheme will actually save Puerto Rico money,” said Steven Kreisberg, AFSCME’s director of research and collective bargaining, and a signatory of the letter. “Whose interests are being served by issuing a contract that will damage Puerto Rico’s fragile economy, increase costs to the government and create hardship for prisoners and their families?”

Key highlights of AFSCME’s letter:

  • Just one element of Rosselló’s plan would increase the government’s deficit by $46.6 million annually
  • Rosselló fails to support claims of $46.9 million  in alleged annual cost savings
  • Rosselló falsely claims that a similar effort to move Puerto Rican prisoners to private prions in 2012 was successful when the experiment ended with a prison riot that led to cancellation of the privatization contract 
  • Rosselló cites prison privatization efforts in Kansas and California, and makes erroneous claims about costs in each to support his claims

Read the letter here.

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AFSCME President Lee Saunders on the 8th Anniversary of the ACA http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-8th-anniversary-of-aca Fri, 23 Mar 2018 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-8th-anniversary-of-aca AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the 8-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act being signed into law:

“Eight years ago, millions of Americans were finally guaranteed the health care coverage they need to live healthy and productive lives without fear if they get sick.

“After eight years of relentless attacks to take away health care, most recently the passing of a cruel tax scam that robbed millions of coverage, the ACA is still here because everyday people, including AFSCME health care professionals and other public service workers, have stood up to defend the health care they know their communities need and deserve. Americans have had enough of the continued attacks by politicians on our health care to line the pockets of billionaires. 

“AFSCME members Like Pat Waller, a labor and delivery nurse in Ohio, and Paula Stinyard, an in-home homecare aide in California, work every day to serve their communities and they see firsthand how access to programs like Medicaid, expanded through the ACA, has lifted up hardworking and vulnerable communities.

“We need to make it easier, not harder, for people like Paula and Pat to continue to improve our communities. We need to stabilize the ACA and stop undermining the health and strength of our communities.”

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AFSCME President on the Omnibus Spending Bill http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-president-on-the-omnibus-spending-bill Thu, 22 Mar 2018 16:30:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-president-on-the-omnibus-spending-bill AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the Omnibus Spending Bill:

“I am pleased that this bill rejects and reverses the deep and harmful cuts proposed by the Trump administration. It makes important investments in health care, education, and infrastructure. It also staves off extreme attacks on labor rights, immigrant rights, and other priorities of working families. Though the bill is far from perfect, for the first time in years, investments in working families will move in a positive direction.

“Despite these accomplishments, Congress has once again failed to protect DREAMers and stabilize Affordable Care Act exchanges. We continue to urge prompt action on this critical, unfinished business.”

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AFSCME President Lee Saunders Praises Senate Democratic Infrastructure Plan http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-president-lee-saunders-praises-senate-democratic-infrastructure-plan Wed, 07 Mar 2018 16:44:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-president-lee-saunders-praises-senate-democratic-infrastructure-plan AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement praising the infrastructure plan released today by Senate Democrats:

“This is a bold, comprehensive plan that will create 15 million good paying jobs by reclaiming recent corporate tax giveaways and investing those funds back into our nation’s communities, including in our roads, bridges, transit, schools and water systems. It ensures strong labor protections and puts the public interest first, rather than selling off the nation’s assets to private interests.

“The plan also pays for infrastructure the right way by making the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share of taxes and ends special privileges for Wall Street so that real work will be done on Main Street. We look forward to working with the Senate to strengthen and pass this critical plan.”

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AFSCME President Lee Saunders on the West Virginia Teachers’ Strike http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-president-lee-saunders-on-the-west-virginia-teachers-strike Tue, 06 Mar 2018 19:58:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-president-lee-saunders-on-the-west-virginia-teachers-strike AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement praising the heroic actions and subsequent victory of the West Virginia teachers who went on strike to stand up for themselves and their students:

“The West Virginia teachers’ strike, which has ended in victory for teachers and students, is a heroic demonstration of democracy in action – the kind of democratic action Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought and died for. Thousands of people came together to say ‘enough is enough’ and demand better for the children they teach and themselves.”

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AFSCME President on Trump Administration DACA Deadline Passing http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-president-on-trump-administration-daca-deadline-passing Tue, 06 Mar 2018 16:27:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-president-on-trump-administration-daca-deadline-passing AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement after the Trump Administration’s arbitrary March 5 deadline passed, ending protections for DACA recipients:

“It is time for real leadership from the White House and Congress to enact a permanent and compassionate solution for our nation’s DREAMers.

“The Administration’s arbitrary deadline to end DACA has now expired. Meanwhile, their continued silence and inaction threatens to tear families apart, destabilize our communities and keep DREAMers in a shadow economy that drives wages down for everyone. We urge Congress and the White House to get serious about a permanent solution and make a concerted effort to pass the DREAM Act.”

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Joint Statement on Nationwide Mobilizations, Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 Oral Arguments http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/joint-statement-on-nationwide-mobilizations-janus-v-afscme-council-31-oral-arguments Mon, 26 Feb 2018 13:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/joint-statement-on-nationwide-mobilizations-janus-v-afscme-council-31-oral-arguments Throughout the month of February, working people have been more energized and organized than any time in recent memory. There have been nationwide moments of silence and fast food strikes to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers strike. Tens of thousands took to the streets in at least 30 cities this weekend to demand an end to a rigged economy. Today, there are more than 500 worksite actions. Working people are speaking out with pride and passion, even as billionaires and corporate interests tried to use the United States Supreme Court today to attack public service workers, good union jobs, and the health and safety of communities across America. 

The presidents of the four largest public service unions in America issued the following statements about the collective power of these nationwide mobilizations, and about oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31. They are available for further comment today:

“If the Supreme Court’s decision is based on merit, on facts and on the law, there’s no doubt they will rule in favor of working people. In the face of ruthless, dishonest attacks against their freedom to come together in strong unions, working people are drawing the line. We stand united in fighting a rigged system that rewards the super-wealthy at everyone else’s expense. And we will not rest until we build an economy where everyone has a voice on the job, a seat at the table and a chance to succeed.”
Lee Saunders, President, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

“This case isn’t about Mark Janus—it’s a ruse funded by the Kochs, the Bradleys, the DeVoses and other anti-union oligarchs to deny working folks the opportunity for a better life. Unions help make possible what would be impossible for individuals acting alone: living wages and a decent retirement, safe and welcoming public schools, affordable college and healthcare, and a voice in our democracy. They’re attacking us because they see a strong labor movement as a threat to their wealth and power.
– Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers (AFT)

“Today, thousands of working people rallied outside the U.S. Supreme Court and around the country to send a message that, whatever the decision in this case, these oligarchs won’t stop working families from realizing our American dream. Make no mistake about it, we are living in a system that is rigged to benefit special interests and billionaires at the expense of American working people. It is no shock to most that is has become harder and harder for working people to get ahead and provide stability for their families. The corporate special interests behind this case are dead set on eliminating the rights and freedoms of working people to organize, to negotiate collectively and to have any voice in working to better their lives. This is a blatant slap in the face of educators, nurses, firefighters, police officers and all public servants who make our communities strong and safe.
– Lily Eskelsen García, President, National Education Association (NEA)

“Tens of thousands of working people have hit the streets to show that we won’t let any court case stop us from sticking together for the good, union jobs our communities need. Today we call on America’s elected leaders to take action to help more working people join together in unions to turn poverty-wage jobs into good, union jobs that provide financial security to families and strengthen communities.”
Mary Kay Henry, President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

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Saunders Praises Overdue Bipartisanship on Federal Spending Package http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/saunders-praises-overdue-bipartisanship-on-federal-spending-package Fri, 09 Feb 2018 11:31:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/saunders-praises-overdue-bipartisanship-on-federal-spending-package AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement in response to Congress reaching an agreement to end the brief government shutdown and reach a deal on a federal spending package:

“Finally, they have done their job. Finally, the Congressional majority has reached across the aisle and reached a bipartisan deal – as their bosses, the American people, want them to.

“As with any compromise, this spending package isn’t perfect. But it includes badly-needed resources for the public health sector, investment in crumbling infrastructure and relief for the people of Puerto Rico and other disaster-stricken areas. It contains essential funding for education, veterans and other critical programs that will make life better for working families and not just the wealthy, privileged few.

“It is outrageous that, for now, the Dreamers must continue to live with anxiety and uncertainty about their futures. I urge the House and the Senate to do the right thing for these women and men who have done everything expected of them, who know no other home but the United States. I commend Leader Pelosi for her historic stand for the Dreamers, and both Leader Schumer and Leader Pelosi for forcing a deal on domestic spending.

“Going forward, it’s our hope that the majority in Congress and the White House will seek cooperation at the beginning of the process and not the end. It took five stopgap spending bills and two shutdowns to finally – more than one-third of the way through the fiscal year – fund the government. If the public service workers represented by AFSCME approached their work responsibilities this way, our communities would suffer greatly.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Responds to the State of the Union http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-responds-to-the-state-of-the-union Tue, 30 Jan 2018 23:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-responds-to-the-state-of-the-union AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement following President Trump’s State of the Union Address:

“If you’re among the wealthy and powerful corporate class, President Trump’s speech probably sounded pretty good. But for millions of working families, nothing that was said tonight – and nothing that’s happened over the first year of this administration – provided much reassurance or relief.

“President Trump continues to pursue an agenda that rigs the economy even more in favor of millionaires and billionaires. It’s the same-old trickle-down scam – Davos elites get rewarded, while working people get a raw deal.

“The Trump priorities are clear: lavish tax breaks on CEOs; outsource jobs while starving public services; take health care away from millions; cut education, Medicare and Medicaid; pass a so-called infrastructure plan that does more to enrich hedge fund managers than invest in communities, with working people paying the bill in the form of higher taxes and tolls; gut regulations in order to prioritize corporate profits over workers’ rights; and drive a cruel immigration policy that breaks up families and affronts human dignity.

“President Trump has had a year to prove the sincerity of his campaign promises about ‘the forgotten man and woman.’ Instead, he’s done the bidding of wealthy special interests time and time again. AFSCME members – including Virginia State Del. Elizabeth Guzman of Local 3001, who is delivering tonight’s Spanish language response to the State of the Union – will never quit fighting for freedom for all working people.”

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Saunders: While Workers Relieved by End to Shutdown, Administration’s Brinkmanship Must Stop http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/saunders-workers-relieved-by-end-to-shutdown-administrations-brinkmanship-must-stop Mon, 22 Jan 2018 17:28:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/saunders-workers-relieved-by-end-to-shutdown-administrations-brinkmanship-must-stop AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement after a short-term deal was reached in Congress to end the government shutdown:

“Like all public service workers, federal employees never quit on our communities and are relieved to see an end to the shutdown. We are also gratified that millions of vulnerable children will continue receiving health care. However, the dangerous and incompetent political brinkmanship of this administration must end. We need long-term solutions for funding the vital public services Americans rely on, and for protecting the Dreamers, who have known no other home but America.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Slams Trump, Congressional Allies for Shutdown http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-slams-trump-congressional-allies-for-shutdown Sat, 20 Jan 2018 09:18:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-slams-trump-congressional-allies-for-shutdown AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued this statement following the Federal Government shutdown:

“On several occasions, President Trump has been a cheerleader for a government shutdown (‘Our country needs a good “shutdown,”’ he tweeted in May). Now, the White House and its congressional allies have gotten their wish – because they refused to engage on bipartisan solutions to important issues. They have refused to finalize a spending blueprint for this year and next. They have jeopardized the health care of nine million children from low-income families. They have left communities that need disaster relief in the lurch. They have held the Dreamers hostage, content to let them live with the fear that they will be removed from the only country they’ve ever called home.

“Instead, they’re choosing to shutter the doors of the federal government, a reckless and unnecessary move that will harm people across the country and create hardship for the hard-working people who provide public services. It’s time for those who control the government to actually govern. Federal employees and all public service workers wake up every day ready to do their work for the American people; right-wing politicians should do the same.”

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