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 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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AFSCME Amicus Briefs Argue SCOTUS Should Rule for Working People http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-amicus-briefs-argue-scotus-should-rule-for-working-people Sat, 20 Jan 2018 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-amicus-briefs-argue-scotus-should-rule-for-working-people Over 35 amicus briefs filed with the United States Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 make compelling arguments for upholding Abood. Collectively, the briefs ask a clear question of the justices: Does merit still matter in America in 2018?

The authors of these briefs include conservative First Amendment originalists, Nobel prize-winning economists, state and local public employers from across the country, Republican lawmakers, child protective service workers, more than 85 civil rights groups including the Human Rights Campaign, ecumenical communities and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, mayors of major U.S. cities, as well as U.S. senators who examine the political intent behind this case. Taken together, they make a compelling argument that the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling of more than 40 years ago was correct: Fair-share fees are permissible under the First Amendment.

Compare these to the briefs filed by the other side in this case, which were mostly authored by political interest groups funded by a small cadre of right-wing interests. It is apparent that Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 is a political attack on the freedoms of working people by the same corporate billionaires and corporate interests that have for years rigged our economy and politics in their own favor.

At a time when America desperately needs to regain its faith in our government institutions, we hope the Supreme Court will see this ruse for what it is and decide the case on the merits, on precedent and on the principle that state and local governments should be allowed to decide for themselves how to handle their own labor relations.

Read the Amicus Briefs at SCOTUSblog (scroll to bottom).

Read AFSCME’s opening brief.

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Saunders: Working People Continue to Come Together Despite Relentless Attacks http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/saunders-working-people-continue-to-come-together-despite-relentless-attacks Fri, 19 Jan 2018 12:53:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/saunders-working-people-continue-to-come-together-despite-relentless-attacks AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement in response to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report on the 2017 union membership rate, which held steady from 2016:

“Despite relentless, dishonest attacks from wealthy special interests, working people continue to come together for a voice on the job and a seat at the table. Union membership held steady in 2017, a testament to the resilience of people fighting strong headwinds to continue organizing even in a hostile environment.

“It’s no surprise that they value unions – as the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual report shows, union workers earn considerably more on average than their non-union peers. Women and communities of color, for whom unions have historically been a pathway to the middle class, enjoy an even greater pay advantage when they join unions.

“Now, corporate CEOs and other billionaires are trying to use the courts to rig the system even more in their favor, chipping away further at the rights of working people. A Supreme Court case called Janus v. AFSCME, which will be decided this year, threatens the freedom of public service workers to negotiate a fair return for the value they add to their communities.

“No matter what happens, public service workers and all working people will continue to build power in numbers and stick together in strong unions.”

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AFSCME Issues Merits Brief in Janus v. AFSCME http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-issues-merits-brief-in-janus-v-afscme Fri, 12 Jan 2018 12:39:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/afscme-issues-merits-brief-in-janus-v-afscme The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) submitted today its brief on the merits of the corporate-backed Supreme Court Case, Janus v. AFSCME Council 31.

Enclosed you will find the merits brief that AFSCME submitted to the Supreme Court today, along with a summary of this brief. If facts, law, and precedent matter, all nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in favor of working people in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 – just as they did more than 40 years ago when they found the state and local governments’ system of ordering their labor relations to be constitutional.

Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 is nothing more than a politically-motivated assault on the freedom of working people to earn a better life and an attempt to further rig the rules in favor of billionaires and corporate interests. In these turbulent times, marked by division and attacks on fact and reason, we hope the Supreme Court will consider carefully the facts, precedent, decades of labor peace and stability, and the motivations behind those seeking to undo it.

Now more than ever in the modern era, Americans must be able to trust their governmental institutions. Just as millions of Americans who rely on public service workers to keep their water clean, care for their families in hospitals, and respond to their emergencies quickly and professionally, millions of public service workers now rely on nine Supreme Court justices to decide this case on its merits -- not on the ideological animus of the billionaires and corporate interests who are funding this blatant effort to silence the voices of workers.  

Read the brief

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Surviving Memphis Sanitation Workers from 1968 Strike Honored by the NAACP with Prestigious ‘Vanguard Award’ http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/surviving-memphis-sanitation-workers-from-1968-strike-honored-by-the-naacp-with-prestigious-vanguard-award Thu, 11 Jan 2018 13:25:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2018/surviving-memphis-sanitation-workers-from-1968-strike-honored-by-the-naacp-with-prestigious-vanguard-award On Tuesday, January 9, the fourteen surviving sanitation workers who participated in the pivotal 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike were honored by the NAACP in Memphis and received the organization’s vaunted Vanguard Award in conjunction with the 49th NAACP Image Awards, scheduled to take place in Pasadena, CA on January 15th and broadcast live on TV ONE. 

The NAACP is the first major organization to recognize the workers as part of the “I AM 2018” campaign launched by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the Church of God In Christ (COGIC). The campaign is designed to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the strikers, in observance of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King, who was in Memphis to support the workers in April of 1968.

According to the NAACP, the Vanguard Award is an “Honor presented in recognition of the groundbreaking work that has increased understanding and awareness of racial and social issues.” Previous honorees include Tyler Perry, Aretha Franklin, Stanley Kramer, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. 

Retired AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer, William “Bill” Lucy, was a leader in organizing the Memphis sanitation workers in 1968. On January 15, he will be presented with the prestigious NAACP Chairman’s Award during the Image Awards broadcast.

“We are humbled and honored that the NAACP has chosen to honor the Memphis workers as well as Bill Lucy,” said Lee Saunders, President of AFSCME. “Imagine the courage it took for African-American municipal employees in the Jim Crow South to defy the local power structure and go on strike – not just for a living wage, and not just for decent working conditions. These brave men were striking to demand dignity and respect; to demand racial justice and economic justice.”

The I AM 2018 campaign is a grassroots voter education and mobilization campaign that will train thousands of activists to create change in their communities and carry on the legacy of Dr. King and the sanitation workers. “I AM A MAN” was the slogan that the 1968 striking sanitation workers adopted to bring shine a light on their degrading working conditions and to assert their humanity. The I AM 2018 campaign will continue the unfinished work of confronting prejudice, poverty and advancing the freedom of all working people today.

“As we approach the 50th anniversary of these history-making events, we need to tell the story of Memphis again,” said Saunders. “I AM 2018 is about drawing inspiration from the heroes of Memphis, but it isn’t just a reflection on the past. It’s an urgent call to fight poverty and prejudice, an urgent call to advance the freedom of all working people and to remind America of the inextricable link between racial justice and economic justice.”

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Congress Robs Working People to Give Tax Cuts to the Rich http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/congress-robs-working-people-to-give-tax-cuts-to-the-rich Wed, 20 Dec 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/congress-robs-working-people-to-give-tax-cuts-to-the-rich AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the U.S. House and Senate’s final passage of their tax bill:

“The tax bill passed by Congress confirms the absolute worst fears average Americans have about our leaders in Washington. The right wing of this Congress and the president have chosen not just to enrich wealthy and powerful corporations and CEOs, whose army of lobbyists helped to draft this bill in secret, but to personally enrich themselves at the expense of our communities.

“In order to lavish trillions in tax breaks on corporations and the wealthy, Congress and the president are willing to take away health care from 13 million Americans, raise taxes on tens of millions of working families, and strip-mine the vital public services our communities need. Not even Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will be safe from the unchecked greed of corporate interests who have rigged the rules, and the politicians who do their bidding. This tax plan is a stunning betrayal of working families, and it will cause lasting damage to our nation.”

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Congress Should Delay Tax Plan Vote http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/congress-should-delay-tax-plan-vote Wed, 13 Dec 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/congress-should-delay-tax-plan-vote AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement, calling on leadership in Congress to delay a vote on the tax plan:

“Congress is considering a radical and historically unpopular tax cut plan that will devastate working families while enriching millionaires, billionaires and CEOs. Democracy, fairness and common sense demand that all representatives elected by their constituents have the chance to deliberate and vote on that plan. Senator-elect Doug Jones should therefore be sworn in as soon as possible, with any vote on tax cuts delayed until he is seated. Anything less would represent a shocking disenfranchisement of the people of Alabama.”

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Trump Administration Sides With Corporations in Janus v. AFSCME http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/trump-administration-sides-with-corporations-in-janus-v-afscme Thu, 07 Dec 2017 13:53:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/trump-administration-sides-with-corporations-in-janus-v-afscme The following statement was issued by members and leaders of AFSCME, AFT, NEA, and SEIU – the nation’s four largest public sector unions – in response to the U.S. Solicitor General's Amicus Brief in support of Janus in the corporate-backed Supreme Court Case, Janus v. AFSCME Council 31:

“This is not just a slap in the face to the working people Donald Trump pledged to lift up, it is a promise broken to anyone who hoped his presidency would be about raising wages, creating good jobs, and giving the forgotten man and woman a voice in their country. The ‘right-to-work’ law his administration has asked the highest court in the land to implement will drive wages down and fundamentally strip working people of the freedom to build power in numbers and negotiate a fair return on their work.

“For the Solicitor General’s Office to reverse positions under the Trump administration – when they have argued in support of the Abood precedent twice in the past four years –  underscores the fact that this case is a purely political attack on the freedoms of working people. The true motivation behind this case is to satisfy the agenda of wealthy and powerful political donors who have spent tens of millions of dollars to, as they have said in their own words, ‘defund and defang’ the American labor movement.” – Lee Saunders, President, AFSCME

“My work as a Child Protection Investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is vital to the safety of our state’s most vulnerable children and families. This court case is yet another political attack on the freedom of my colleagues and I to speak up to ensure that we can safely and adequately manage our caseloads, which reflects our commitment to safety and public service to our communities.” – Stephen Mittons, AFSCME Council 31 member, Child Protection Investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

"The Trump administration's decision to side with corporations over working people in Janus is disappointing but not the least bit surprising. Trump may have campaigned as a populist, but he's governing as an elitist, using the levers of government to turn the screws even tighter against families and the middle class. The president and the corporations that own him are waging an all-out war against the freedom of working people to join together because they know unions are the last remaining check on their power. But we will not be cowed—we will stick together to fend off this legal attack and stand firm in our fight to build a fair economy that works for all Americans, not just the wealthy few." – Randi Weingarten, President, AFT

"My union just went through a lengthy contract fight in Philadelphia. We had to fight hard to protect our students’ basic needs, such as having at least one nurse and counselor in each school and ensuring that kids had necessary textbooks and materials. And we had to fight back against the district's desire to eliminate class sizes and get lead testing for the school's water fountains. Most people assume that the union only fights for teachers' rights, when in reality, most of our contract is there to protect the basic rights and needs of our students. Those rights are at grave risk in Janus." – Jeff Price, AFT Local 3 member, Teacher at Central High School, School District of Philadelphia.

“From tax giveaways to corporate special interests and the rich to this week’s radical call on the U.S. Supreme Court to further rig the economy against working people, Donald Trump’s actions speak loud and clear. Trump is no friend of working people or the middle class —especially women and people of color— and his actions should be seen for the naked ideological moves that they are. He and his allies wants to dismantle one of the sure paths working families have to economic stability and security. We will not let that happen. Because when the nation’s unions succeed, families and communities prosper.” – Lily Eskelsen García, President, NEA

“More and more, the economy is working against working people, including the families whose children I teach. My union gives me a voice and a seat at the table to advocate for my students, my colleagues, and my community.” – Sonya Shpilyuk, NEA member, High School English teacher, Montgomery County, MD

"The Trump Administration and the shadowy extremists behind this case want to divide working people and rig the system to make it harder to make a decent wage, see a doctor when you're sick and save for retirement. But SEIU members won't let any court case stand in our way of sticking together for the union jobs our communities need." – Mary Kay Henry, President, SEIU

"By sticking together in our union, we've lifted the wage floor to a $15 minimum wage, protected and expanded health care benefits for our families, and won more funding for our schools. Together, we’ll continue to fight to ensure all students have the support and services they need to succeed in school. That’s why the extremists are attacking us, to stop our progress. But we plan to stick together no matter what and keep standing up for quality public services." – Edna Logan, SEIU Local 99 member, Custodian at Esteban Torres School, Los Angeles Unified School District.

Background:

The Janus case is a blatantly political and well-funded plot to use the highest court in the land to further rig the economic rules against everyday working people. The billionaire CEOs and corporate interests behind this case, and the politicians who do their bidding, have teamed up to deliver yet another attack on working people by striking at the freedom to come together in strong unions. The forces behind this case know that by joining together in strong unions, working people are able to win the power and voice they need to level the economic and political playing field. However, the people behind this case simply do not believe that working people deserve the same freedoms they have: to negotiate a fair return on their work.

This case started with an overt political attempt by the billionaire governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, to attack public service workers through the courts. And, in a letter to supporters detailed in The Guardian, the CEO of the corporate-backed State Policy Network (SPN) reveals the true intent of a nationwide campaign of which Janus is a part: to strike a ‘mortal blow’ and ‘defund and defang’ America’s unions. The merits of the case are clear. Since 1977, Abood has effectively governed labor relations between public sector employees and employers, allowing employers and employees the freedom to determine labor policies that best serve the public. When reviewing the legal merits of this case, it is clear that this attempt to manipulate the court against working people should be rejected.

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Blasts Senate Tax Plan http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-blasts-senate-tax-plan Sat, 02 Dec 2017 03:30:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-blasts-senate-tax-plan AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the U.S. Senate passing a tax plan that would slash taxes for the wealthy and powerful while hurting working families:

“Senators who voted for this tax plan just proved to their constituents once and for all that they are not on the side of working families. The bill represents a shameless giveaway to powerful corporate special interests at the expense of working people, seniors and children. This bill will advance a dangerous plan to force cuts to vital state and local public services and even to Medicare, Medicaid and public education.

“This is not tax reform. It is a jackpot for corporations and the wealthiest Americans, and a disaster for the working people who drive our economy.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on the Senate Tax Plan http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-senate-tax-plan Wed, 15 Nov 2017 11:41:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-senate-tax-plan AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the tax plan announced by Senate leadership:

“Both versions of the tax plan moving through Congress were already a raw deal for working families. The decision to tack on the repeal of the linchpin of the Affordable Care Act adds insult to injury. Not only will millions of middle class families see their taxes go up, 13 million Americans will lose their health insurance – all so the biggest corporations and powerful elites can get tax cuts they don’t need and don’t deserve. Any claim that this tax plan is designed to help working people is an absolute farce.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on House Majority Tax Plan http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-house-majority-tax-plan Thu, 02 Nov 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-house-majority-tax-plan AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the tax plan released today by House majority leaders that would dramatically benefit corporations and the wealthy at the expense of working people:

“This tax bill is another gift to the powerful corporate special interests who manipulate our politics and politicians.

“Working people, seniors, and children will pay for this bill’s tax giveaways to corporations and the super wealthy by way of partisan gamesmanship that will force cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and public education. But to add insult to injury, the bill will starve communities of state and local public services, stifle job growth, and cause many middle class families to actually be hit with a tax increase.

“Real tax reform would ask corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share, not reward them with more giveaways they don’t need, at the expense of working families.”

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New Report: Strong Unions Mean Stronger Communities http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/new-report-strong-unions-mean-stronger-communities Wed, 01 Nov 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/new-report-strong-unions-mean-stronger-communities Today, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the National Education Association (NEA), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) released a new report, Strong Unions, Stronger Communities.

The report looks at numerous case studies where members of labor unions have used their freedom to join strong unions and collective voice to fight for improvements that benefit all working families in communities throughout America.

From helping hospitals and airports prepare to respond to the Ebola virus to helping high school students pursue careers in nursing, labor unions and their members are helping communities, families and students across the country to prosper.

“My work as a Child Protection Investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is vital to the safety of our state’s most vulnerable children and families. Together, as a strong union, my colleagues and I are free to speak up to ensure that we can safely and adequately manage our caseloads, which reflects our commitment to safety and public service to our communities.” – Stephen Mittons, Child Protection Investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and member of AFSCME Council 31

"My union just went through a lengthy contract fight in Philadelphia. We had to fight hard to protect our students’ basic needs, such as having at least one nurse and counselor in each school and ensuring that kids had necessary textbooks and materials. And we had to fight back against the district's desire to eliminate class sizes and get lead testing for the school's water fountains. Most people assume that the union only fights for teachers' rights, when in reality, most of our contract is there to protect the basic rights and needs of our students." – Jeff Price, AFT Local 3 member, Teacher at Central High School, School District of Philadelphia.

“As a high school special education teacher, I know how important our public schools are to our communities and our students. Educators are deeply committed to the success of every student. Our union gives us the freedom to join together to advocate for improved pay and working conditions, professional development, rights on the job and improved education for our students.” – Korrie Brown, special education teacher in Chester County, PA, and member of PSEA/NEA

“Because public services workers are united in SEIU and other unions, we had a way to make sure our voices were heard. We fought for proposals to fix Los Angeles through street repairs, tree trimming, beach cleanups and the overall job creation needed to keep our city clean, healthy and functioning. Those are the kinds of improvements that we fought for and through our unions we helped make that happen." – SEIU Local 721 member Stacee Karnya, a Senior Chemist for the City of Los Angeles who helps keep the city’s air and water supplies safe through testing and analysis

Corporate special interests have launched unprecedented attacks against the freedom of working people to form strong unions over the past several years, most recently urging the U.S. Supreme Court to consider Janus v. AFSCME, which would further benefit the corporations, wealthy special interests and politicians that have rigged the economy against working people.

Read Strong Unions, Stronger Communities.

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on House Passing Final Budget Resolution http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-house-passing-final-budget-resolution Thu, 26 Oct 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-house-passing-final-budget-resolution AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the U.S. House of Representatives passing the final 2018 Budget Resolution:

“Any member of Congress who voted to support this budget just signed a permission slip for an onslaught of attacks on America’s seniors, children and working families.

“It is unconscionable to give a penny more to the billionaires and corporations who have rigged the rules to their own benefit at the expense of already underfunded health care, education, infrastructure and other public services. This budget will do real harm to our communities.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Trump’s Decision to End Vital ACA Subsidies http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-trump-decision-to-end-vital-aca-subsidies Fri, 13 Oct 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-trump-decision-to-end-vital-aca-subsidies AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s decision to end vital health care subsidies under the Affordable Care Act:

“With this decision, the president has ushered in the era of Trumpcare, under which Americans will have fewer coverage choices and face skyrocketing premium costs.

“By sabotaging the health care system just as open enrollment is set to begin, the president has all but guaranteed that insurers will abandon the market and working families will bear the brunt of the pain.

“Americans will go broke, get sicker or worse because of this decision. There is no reasonable justification for the president to have taken this action. Making the lives of Americans leverage for political purposes is unacceptable.

“Congress must move forward quickly with legislation that builds on the progress made through the Affordable Care Act instead of sabotaging it.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on House Budget Resolution http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-house-budget-resolution-october Thu, 05 Oct 2017 15:58:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-house-budget-resolution-october AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the U.S. House of Representatives passing the 2018 House Budget Resolution:

“Our kids deserve to grow up with quality health care and education. Seniors who have worked hard their whole lives should be able to count on Medicare and Medicaid when they need it. Our roads, bridges and schools are badly in need of repair. And yet the House of Representatives voted today to gut them all, in order to give tax breaks to those who need help the least. It is unconscionable to give a penny more to the billionaires and corporations who have rigged the rules to their own benefit, at the expense of already underfunded health care, education, infrastructure and other public services.

“The cuts contained in this budget will be felt in very real and tangible ways by our communities. Every member of Congress who voted for this budget resolution today voted to degrade the basic quality of life for American working families.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Pres. Trump’s Puerto Rico Comments http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-pres-trumps-puerto-rico-comments Sat, 30 Sep 2017 15:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-pres-trumps-puerto-rico-comments Lee Saunders, president of the 1.6 million-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), issued the following statement regarding President Trump’s tweets on Puerto Rico relief efforts:

“The president’s tweets this morning dishonor the thousands of Puerto Rican public service workers who are tirelessly trying to save their communities, even though many have no water, electricity or phone service themselves. President Trump has proven once again that he has no respect for the everyday heroes who go above and beyond to save their neighbors and communities.”

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Workers on Janus: A Political Effort to Further Rig the Rules Against Working People http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/workers-on-janus-a-political-effort-to-further-rig-the-rules-against-working-people Thu, 28 Sep 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/workers-on-janus-a-political-effort-to-further-rig-the-rules-against-working-people The following statement was issued by members and leaders of AFSCME, AFT, NEA, and SEIU – the nation’s four largest public sector unions – in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to grant Certiorari in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31:

The Janus case is a blatantly political and well-funded plot to use the highest court in the land to further rig the economic rules against everyday working people. The billionaire CEOs and corporate interests behind this case, and the politicians who do their bidding, have teamed up to deliver yet another attack on working people by striking at the freedom to come together in strong unions. The forces behind this case know that by joining together in strong unions, working people are able to win the power and voice they need to level the economic and political playing field. However, the people behind this case simply do not believe that working people deserve the same freedoms they have: to negotiate a fair return on their work.

This case started with an overt political attempt by the billionaire governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, to attack public service workers through the courts. And, in a letter to supporters detailed in The Guardian, the CEO of the corporate-backed State Policy Network (SPN) reveals the true intent of a nationwide campaign of which Janus is a part: to strike a ‘mortal blow’ and ‘defund and defang’ America’s unions. The merits of the case are clear. Since 1977, Abood has effectively governed labor relations between public sector employees and employers, allowing employers and employees the freedom to determine labor policies that best serve the public. When reviewing the legal merits of this case, it is clear that this attempt to manipulate the court against working people should be rejected.

“This case is yet another example of corporate interests using their power and influence to launch a political attack on working people and rig the rules of the economy in their own favor. When working people are able to join strong unions, they have the strength in numbers they need to fight for the freedoms they deserve, like access to quality health care, retirement security and time off work to care for a loved one. The merits of the case, and 40 years of Supreme Court precedent and sound law, are on our side. We look forward to the Supreme Court honoring its earlier rulings.” – Lee Saunders, President, AFSCME

“My work as a Child Protection Investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is vital to the safety of our state’s most vulnerable children and families. This court case is yet another political attack on the freedom of my colleagues and I to speak up to ensure that we can safely and adequately manage our caseloads, which reflects our commitment to safety and public service to our communities.” – Stephen Mittons, AFSCME Council 31 member, Child Protection Investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

“Unions are all about fighting for and caring about people—and in the public sector that includes those we represent and those we protect and teach in communities across America. Yet corporations, wealthy interests and politicians have manufactured Janus as part of their long and coordinated war against unions. Their goal is to further weaken workers’ freedom to join together in a union, to further diminish workers’ clout.

“These powerful interests want to gut one of the last remaining checks on their control—a strong and united labor movement that fights for equity and opportunity for all, not just the privileged few. And under the guise of the First Amendment, they want to overturn a 40-year precedent that’s been reaffirmed numerous times. In other words, this would be a radical departure from well-established law. We believe that after resolving a similar case last year, the Supreme Court erred in granting cert in Janus, and that the trumped-up underpinnings of the plaintiff’s argument will rapidly become clear before the full bench.” – Randi Weingarten, President, AFT

"My union just went through a lengthy contract fight in Philadelphia. We had to fight hard to protect our students’ basic needs, such as having at least one nurse and counselor in each school and ensuring that kids had necessary textbooks and materials. And we had to fight back against the district's desire to eliminate class sizes and get lead testing for the school's water fountains. Most people assume that the union only fights for teachers' rights, when in reality, most of our contract is there to protect the basic rights and needs of our students. Those rights are at grave risk in Janus." – Jeff Price, AFT Local 3 member, Teacher at Central High School, School District of Philadelphia.

“For decades corporate CEO’s and the wealthy have fought to enrich themselves at the expense of the rights and pocket books of working people, and that harms families in communities across the country. As the nation’s largest union, we know this fight will not only impact the lives of educators, but it also impacts the families of the children we educate. We won’t back down from this fight and we will always stand up to support working people, our students and the communities we serve.” – Lily Eskelsen García, President, NEA

“More and more, the economy is working against working people, including the families whose children I teach. My union gives me a voice and a seat at the table to advocate for my students, my colleagues, and my community.” – Sonya Shpilyuk, NEA member, High School English teacher, Montgomery County, MD

The anti-worker extremists behind this case want to divide working people, make it harder to pool our resources, and limit our collective power. But SEIU members won't let any court case stand in our way of sticking together for good jobs and strong communities." – Mary Kay Henry, President, SEIU

"By sticking together in our union, we've lifted the wage floor to a $15 minimum wage, protected and expanded health care benefits for our families, and won more funding for our schools. Together, we’ll continue to fight to ensure all students have the support and services they need to succeed in school. That’s why the extremists are attacking us, to stop our progress. But we plan to stick together no matter what and keep standing up for quality public services." – Edna Logan, SEIU Local 99 member, Custodian at Esteban Torres School, Los Angeles Unified School District.

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on the Trump Tax Plan http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-trump-tax-plan Wed, 27 Sep 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-the-trump-tax-plan AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the tax plan announced today by the Trump administration and GOP congressional leaders:

“This tax plan will be a slow-motion disaster that hurts our country for years to come. It is deeply irresponsible to let even a penny more in tax cuts go to the wealthy and corporations, while working people are barely keeping their heads above water, our roads and bridges are crumbling, our children face steep inequalities, and our seniors struggle to retire with dignity.

“Our nation faces challenges that are not shared equally. The super-wealthy and corporations can and must shoulder their fair share of the burden. The plan announced today will further rig the system against working families and our communities by strip-mining the public services we all rely on. We cannot continue to put the interests of the rich and powerful before the interests of our country.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Calls on Trump and Congress to Act on Puerto Rico http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-calls-on-trump-and-congress-to-act-on-puerto-rico Tue, 26 Sep 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-calls-on-trump-and-congress-to-act-on-puerto-rico AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement calling on President Trump and Congress to act on hurricane relief to Puerto Rico:

“3.5 million American citizens have been abandoned by their president and Congress during their greatest time of need. Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico nearly a week ago, and the situation has grown worse every day since then. The people of Puerto Rico are American citizens with the same rights and privileges as any mainland resident and they cannot wait a minute longer for Washington to act. No legislative or political priority is more important than addressing this rapidly escalating crisis, and the fact that tax cuts, health care repeal efforts, and socially divisive rants have taken priority over the lives of Puerto Ricans in the recent days is utterly unacceptable.

“Thousands of working and retired AFSCME members are among those struggling to survive and rebuild their communities. We call on the president and Congress to act immediately and without delay to move financial and material assistance that meets Puerto Rico’s needs. This cannot wait.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on CBO Analysis of the Graham-Cassidy Bill http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-cbo-analysis-of-graham-cassidy Mon, 25 Sep 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-cbo-analysis-of-graham-cassidy AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the decision by the Senate Majority Leader’s office to hold a vote on Graham-Cassidy without first obtaining CBO analysis of the bill.

“The fact that the Majority Leader’s office is willing to hold a vote without the CBO’s analysis on how their so-called ‘health care bill’ would affect health care coverage and health care costs for American families shows what a sham this entire exercise truly is. Acting only to appease their billionaire donors who have become impatient for a partisan victory and the hefty tax cut they were promised, the bill’s authors have put forward a shockingly dangerous proposal. This bill would be a medical and financial catastrophe for tens of millions of families – that’s why it has earned vocal opposition from hospitals, doctors, patient advocates, Governors and Medicaid directors from both parties, and a majority of American voters.

“Congress should return to the good-faith, bi-partisan negotiations that were in progress before being abandoned for yet another effort to blindly rush through legislation upending one-sixth of the American economy.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on DACA Reversal http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-daca-reversal Tue, 05 Sep 2017 11:16:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-daca-reversal AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program:

“It is grossly unfair and morally reprehensible for the U.S. government to go back on its word and deport undocumented young people who bravely came out of the shadows and registered under DACA.

“DACA was part of an effort to find solutions to our broken immigration system and a legal path to citizenship for millions of hardworking people who were brought to America as babies and children through no choice of their own, by parents in search of a better life for their families.

“It is urgent that Congress act to protect the young adults covered by the DACA program, and finally get serious about comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform. It is on Congress to prove to Americans of every race and creed that our government keeps its promises, and rejects hate and xenophobia.”

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Senate Failing to pass “Skinny Repeal” of the Affordable Care Act http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-senate-failing-to-pass-skinny-repeal-of-the-affordable-care-act Fri, 28 Jul 2017 10:04:00 -0500 http://www.afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2017/afscme-pres-lee-saunders-on-senate-failing-to-pass-skinny-repeal-of-the-affordable-care-act AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the Senate failing to pass the so-called “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act:

“When you write legislation that takes health coverage away from millions of people – and when you do it in secretive fashion, without transparency or public debate – it’s no wonder that you can’t get a majority of senators to vote for it.

“The failure of so-called ‘skinny repeal’ is a victory for all working people, for everyone who needs the freedom and security of affordable health insurance, for everyone who has a pre-existing condition, for everyone who worries about what a catastrophic illness or injury will mean for their family.

“This effort failed because thousands and thousands of Americans – including AFSCME members who are on the front lines of our health care system – made themselves heard loud and clear. With phone calls, emails, rallies and more over the last several months, they demanded that their elected officials in Washington represent their views. And they will continue to raise their voices until Congress abandons any effort to destroy the nation’s health care system.”

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