MIAMI -- With so much on the line in this year’s midterm elections – from retirement security to voting rights -- AFSCME retirees in Miami-Dade County made more than 100,000 calls to Floridians in recent weeks, encouraging them to vote on or before Nov. 4.
One of the retirees turning people out to the polls is Melba White, a former procurement specialist for Jackson Memorial Hospital who retired three years ago. Rather than just relax, White seized the opportunity to devote herself more fully to civic engagement and become active with AFSCME Retirees Subchapter 45.
“I stay active in local politics and I'm participating in this election because we need big changes in Florida,” White said. “Our current governor is not for all people, he's for special interest groups and the rich. It’s been on his watch that so many working families have been hurt. I’m a grandmother and a great-grandmother, I care deeply about making our communities better for future generations.”
White is enjoying staying active in her retirement.
“Now I have the time to go to more meetings, play close attention to how decisions get made and talk with more voters about making smart decisions,” White said.
She has a clear mission for the next two weeks, as early voting is now under way in Florida and Election Day looms on Nov. 4: Get people out to vote.
“Sometimes all it takes is one genuine conversation that makes the difference in getting someone to the polls,” White said. “And that’s a really good feeling to know you’ve made a difference.”
Learn more about what inspirational retirees are doing across the country by visiting http://www.afscme.org/union/retirees.
SAN FRANCISCO — Activist group CREDO Action is calling on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to support paying a living wage to shuttle bus drivers who ferry Facebook workers to and from the company's Menlo Park, Calif., campus.http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2014/10/23/facebook-shuttle-bus-drivers-teamsters-union-mark-zuckerberg-credo-action/17782339/
Mansfield, Ohio, a town of 47,000 between Cleveland and Columbus, is the epicenter of Ohio’s midterm election campaign, where the war on public service workers perhaps is felt most personally. Every public employee here has felt the attacks on public services and budget cutbacks during the past four years.
Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA) represents many of the workers there, from the corrections officers at the two local prisons to employees of the Department of Transportation, EPA and other state offices.
Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) represents many of the school employees.
Council 8 also represents city workers. The Mansfield office is one of eight around Ohio where get-out-the-vote programs are in full swing.
In Mansfield, as elsewhere, the volunteers are driven to protect public services and their rights – thousands of jobs were lost and many more are threatened by cuts or privatization attempts.
“I worked at the Unemployment Department for 27 years, and they kept cutting and cutting,” said Joan Schonhardt, who retired three years ago and worries how she will make ends meet every day on a small pension and Social Security benefits that are diminished by Ohio regulations.
“They’ve been trying to privatize Ohio’s prison system for four years,” said Melvin Girtman, a corrections officer at the Mansfield Correctional Institution who was assembling folders of information for volunteers to distribute during their door-knocking efforts. “It’s food service, then it’s other services, they’re picking the prison system apart, really, selling it out to the highest bidder. And what they’re really after is to weaken the union, picking us off one section at a time.”
Girtman and Schonhardt were two of several volunteers who showed up on a gray October Wednesday to knock on doors and make phone calls on behalf of candidates willing to fight for working families. Many fear that Ohio will follow the mold of Michigan and Indiana right-to-work ruin.
“That’s what I fear the most,” said Emmagean Smith, another corrections officer at the Mansfield prison who signed up for the volunteer work. “I worry that right-to-work would mean a cut in our wages. It means I could lose my seniority. I’ve worked at ManCI for 21 years, and I don’t want to lose what I’ve worked so hard to earn.”
Later that day, Smith door knocked with fellow Mansfield CO Debbie Davis and her daughter, an eighth-grader, at union members’ homes in nearby Mt. Vernon. Her daughter insisted on coming along, Davis said. “She knows how important this election is. It’s her future, you know.”
So far, the AFSCME Ohio get-out-the-vote campaign made 350,000 phone calls to union members and knocked on 30,000 doors. That’s just the beginning, said OCSEA’s Jim Beverly, who runs the Mansfield office. “We’ve got nearly two weeks to go,” he said. “We’re not letting up.”
Two years ago, Ohio’s unions and supporters were able to gather 1.3 million signatures for a ballot initiative and rally overwhelming support to repeal a state law to eliminate collective bargaining for public workers, SB5. AFSCME activists wear buttons that say, “This Is the November We Remember.” They’re fighting back.
(OAKLAND, Calif.) – First Student school bus drivers in Oakland, Calif., have voted by an overwhelming 15-1 margin in favor of representation by Teamsters Local 853 in San Leandro, Calif. The 150 drivers transport children in the Oakland Unified School District.
Over the past two weeks your local unions and the Teamsters Warehouse Division have been negotiating with both prospective bidders - C&S and Supervalu. As of today, all locals have reached tentative agreements with both companies modifying the existing collective bargaining agreements. The ratification process for one or both of those agreements will begin after the auction has concluded and will need to be voted by or on Tuesday, October 28.
Companies like Macy's, Walmart and Target are already beginning to take the joy out of the holiday season by notifying their employees they will need to work on Thanksgiving.
Here are today's top news stories of interest to Teamsters for October 24, 2014.http://teamsternation.blogspot.com/2014/10/teamster-news-today_24.html
Sixteen thousand packages arrive from regional hubs in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, get sifted by Zip code, and trundle through the roller coaster ride of blue tubing that snakes through a giant warehouse.http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/10/23/how-fedex-is-trying-to-save-the-business-model-that-saved-it-millions/
Teamsters Local 989 organized the demonstration at 11 a.m. outside Uber Technology offices, 1437 Seventh St. in Santa Monica.http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/video/10300471-uber-drivers-protest-companys-business-practices-outside-santa-monica-office/
After months of collecting signatures, rallying in cities across the state and meeting with local officials, Missouri home care providers and the people they care for were able to celebrate a big victory last week – a first contract!
The Missouri Home Care Union, an AFSCME/SEIU partnership, reached an agreement with the state that will raise hourly wages up to $10.15, guarantee premium pay on holidays, and make the home health care system more transparent and responsive.
Their hard work paid off big time for the home care workers, many of whom were making minimum wage or barely above it. Their pay is among the lowest in the nation. It’s not enough to pay the bills, and it certainly doesn’t reflect the value of the work they do caring for seniors and people with disabilities.
That’s why Michael Richards of Moberly, along with his caregiver Karen Harlan, traveled to St. Louis last week to deliver more than 400 petition signatures to Gov. Jay Nixon. Richards says he wouldn’t be able to leave the house without the help of Harlan, but the current system doesn’t value what she does.
“I got into the home health care system and it completely changed my life,” he says. “These workers are out working nine, 10, 11 hours a day and then they go home and live on food stamps at the poverty level. People like them keep people like me alive and well and they deserve more than that.”
Sarah Auxier and her son Kyle, from St. James, also have been active in the union. Kyle has muscular dystrophy, and Sarah works around the clock to care for him. But she can’t support herself on the income she gets as a home care attendant, so Kyle has to hire someone else while Sarah works a second job.
“His other attendant has four jobs and is barely making ends meet,” Auxier says. “It was so embarrassing to say to her, you have this huge responsibility, Kyle relies on you for everything, and you’re only worth $7.75 an hour.”
The contract is a big first step, and it will make life a little easier for Missourians like Richards and Auxier. When home care workers and consumers work side by side to advocate for change, they can raise the standards for everybody.
Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa finished a two-day GOTV effort in Chicago by reminding workers of the importance of showing up at the polls.
ATLANTA – AFSCME Local 1644 members who work for Atlanta Public Schools and the City of Atlanta are encouraging their co-workers to vote early this election season. Last week they joined local teachers in voting early at South DeKalb Mall to launch early voting across the state.
Although every election is important, close U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races have caused increased interest in this midterm election.
“My co-workers and I are voting early because on Election Day we’re going to help other people get to the polls,” said Local 1644 member Tracey Thornhill. “There are some big races happening and we can’t let any excuses stand in our way.”
“We’ll be driving folks to the polls and helping them make educated decisions,” she said. “Just like every election, we all need to stand up for ourselves and all working families.”
Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia offer early voting, increasing access to the democratic process. Click here to find out more about what options you have available in your state.
The benefits of early voting include greater participation by traditionally disenfranchised voters and reduced stress on the voting system on Election Day.