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Updated: 23 hours 3 min ago

The Best Leader for Our Country

Wed, 10/26/2016 - 13:23

I've been involved in a lot of campaigns over the years, but I can’t remember another one where the contrast between the candidates was this great and the choice was this clear.

Without question, there’s a lot of economic anxiety out there. Even though the recession is over, even though incomes are rising again, so many working families feel like they’re getting a raw deal. They feel like they can’t get ahead no matter how hard they work. They feel like they won’t be able to give their kids the same opportunities they had.

Talking the Talk vs. Walking the Walk

There is only one candidate in this Presidential race who understands these struggles, who really gets it. And I’ll give you a hint: It’s not the guy who made “you’re fired” his reality show catchphrase.

Donald Trump wants you to believe he’s on the side of working people. He talks a good talk, but we need a President who will walk the walk.

He says we’ve got to bring jobs back to America, but it turns out his clothing line uses labor from China and Bangladesh.
He says he’s on our side, but then he argues that Americans’ wages are too high.

He says he supports unions, except that he embraces a national right-to-work law and he’s a first-class union-buster, refusing to negotiate with workers at his hotel property in Las Vegas.

Talk is cheap. Lip service isn’t going to raise our incomes, protect our pensions or give our kids a better future. We need a President who will produce for us, not pander to us.

We also need a President who treats all people with respect. Not someone who attacks people of color, who smears immigrants and religious minorities, who insults war heroes and Gold Star families, who says vulgar things about women and mocks people with disabilities. Public service workers bring our communities together. We can’t have a President who would tear us apart.

A Strong, Seasoned, Steady Leader

On the other side, we have Sec. Hillary Clinton – as strong, seasoned and steady a leader as you will find. She is both competent and compassionate. She has the heart, the brains and the guts to succeed at the most important job in the world.

She will fight for an economy that works for everyone. She’s a champion for higher wages and equal pay for equal work. A champion for Social Security and retirement with dignity. A champion who will defend our collective bargaining rights, who proudly declares that when unions are strong, America is strong.

She cares about the things we care about, the things that we talk about around the dinner table, the things that keep us up at night. She understands the challenges facing working families. She honors our work and shares our commitment to our communities. She knows that public service workers never quit. She knows that we make America happen.

The stakes are too high to sit this one out, Sisters and Brothers. We have the power to determine what kind of country we'll be for the next four years.
So let’s do what we do best, AFSCME. I’ll be out there hitting the streets, and I’m asking you to join me. Knock on doors till your hands are sore. Make phone calls until your voice is hoarse. We can rest on November 9. Until then, let’s leave it all on the field and elect Hillary Clinton  President of the United States.

Categories: News By Union

DC 37 Activists Visit Philadelphia to Get-Out-the-Vote for Clinton

Wed, 10/26/2016 - 08:05

National polls are showing Hillary Clinton pulling away in her race for the White House, but the former secretary of state and the working people who support her are taking nothing for granted.

Clinton reached out to voters in Raleigh, North Carolina, over the weekend while DC 37 members joined a major get-out-the-vote blitz with AFSCME members from across the country.

Two busloads of activists from DC 37 left their union headquarters in lower Manhattan early Saturday morning and headed for Philadelphia for a day of door-knocking to make sure working families are heard on November 8.

After two hours on the road, DC 37 Political Action Dir. Jeremy John handed out assignments and volunteers picked up their union campaign literature and ponchos to protect them against the steady drizzle. The activists paired off and drove to their assigned neighborhoods.

Retiree Enovia Bedford went door-to-door in West Oak Lane in North Philadelphia, a community of private two-story homes. Several homes in the neighborhood had Clinton-Kaine placards on their lawns, and Bedford came across some residents who had already voted. “That’s a good sign,” she said. 

Vanessa Tirado, a member of Local 154, also made the trip to Philadelphia. Tirado, a claims examiner who works in the New York City Office of Comptroller, lives in Orange County and commutes two hours every day to her job in the city. But a two-hour commute from her home to Manhattan and then a two-hour bus trip to Philadelphia on a rainy Saturday morning wasn’t a problem for the Bronx native.

“There’s too much at stake,” said Tirado, who has taken a lot of canvasing trips with the union and is also active in her community. Tirado said one of her trips was to Connecticut and New Hampshire.

And the following day on Sunday morning Tirado planned to go door to door again, this time in her suburban neighborhood on behalf of a Democratic Party candidate who is running in her district.

Categories: News By Union

Innovators: Tapping into Public Employee Potential

Tue, 10/25/2016 - 07:00

Public employees are proud of the services they provide. They want to do their jobs and do them well. They want to improve their work and processes, bring safety to their jobs, and have a voice and integrity in the workplace – all union values.

Team Up ODOT, a 20-year labor and management tradition, is a prime example. When the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA) and management work together great things happen. Workers are safer, public work is more efficient and taxpayers win. The annual event spotlights innovation and process improvement and awards employees for giving back and working hard.

When Ohio Department of Transportation mechanics (and OCSEA members) Tim Wood and Tim Rodgers from Ashtabula County faced an ice hazard during the harsh winter months, they thought outside the box. They created a heated truck cab step to help improve safety for drivers exiting and entering the trucks. A buildup of snow and ice while plowing had resulted in numerous slips and falls.

What was the simple solution to this dangerous problem? The mechanics added a heat exchanger to the bottom of the step using coolant from the engine as a heat source. With the support of their manager, they worked to make the innovation a reality for just over $300 per truck, a drop in the government bucket. With no more snow and ice build up, the slip hazard has virtually been eliminated in the county.

“It’s innovators like these men who are proof that public employees do it well and they do it best,” said OCSEA President Christopher Mabe, also an AFSCME International vice president. “We must build upon the connection that public employee values ARE union values. It is this common thread that will mean the preservation of good jobs, the middle class and the American dream.” 

Categories: News By Union

All Talk: Trump Tower Filled with Foreign Goods

Mon, 10/24/2016 - 09:40

Donald Trump likes to talk a tough game on trade, but when it comes to putting his money where his mouth is, Trump has shown that his talk is just that – talk.

Trump’s own products, including his branded shirts, ties, suits and cuff links, are manufactured in at least a dozen other countries, among them Bangladesh, China, India and Mexico. Trump vodka is distilled in the Netherlands. His crystal barware comes from Slovenia.

Trump also stocks his luxurious hotels with foreign-made goods. A Steelworker with a camera checked out the pricey Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City and found many products in just one room that could have been purchased domestically but were instead sourced by Trump from overseas.

“I don’t see a future if Trump is elected,” said Terra Samuel, a steelworker with Local 1010, who works for ArcelorMittal in Indiana. “Hillary has credibility for working with labor unions and looking out for young people. I love her ideas for investing in infrastructure. Because she will require American-made products that will support American manufacturing and create American jobs.”

If Trump wanted to rebuild America like he says, he could have started by buying American-made products.

Watch a USW-produced video on the foreign-made products used in Trump hotel rooms:

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2016 issue of USW@Work.

Categories: News By Union

Running to Represent Workers

Fri, 10/21/2016 - 10:34

Being an active and concerned union member is a great way to transform your workplace. Fighting for your community in legislative chambers is another way. Here’s a look at three Council 4 members running for state representative:

West Haven: Mike DiMassa and Sean Ronan

This election season, color the city of West Haven AFSCME Green.

It’s here you’ll find not one but two Council 4 members seeking election as state representatives: Mike DiMassa and Sean Ronan.

DiMassa, a member of Local 681 (West Haven DPW/City Hall) is running in the 116th District (West Haven and New Haven). Ronan, 48, a member of Local 1159 (Bridgeport Police), hopes to represent the 117th District (West Haven, Milford and Orange).

Both candidates share a strong belief in unions and the need to ensure the Connecticut Legislature is more worker-friendly.

“Unions have done so much to improve people’s lives,” DiMassa said. “We need to support collective bargaining and create livable wage jobs. That’s good for workers and good for businesses.”

Ronan shares that sentiment. The longtime Bridgeport police detective and Army veteran comes from a strong union family (including a brother who is a state corrections officer and a sister who is a town dispatcher).

“Unions built America. I’m running as a working man’s candidate,” he said, noting that his opponent, incumbent Republican Charles Ferraro, wants to slash workers’ pay and benefits, and curtail bargaining rights.

DiMassa, 25, is a newcomer to politics. The City Council clerk upset veteran incumbent Lou Esposito by 22 votes in the August Democratic primary. Council 4 endorsed DiMassa in the primary, and helped his effort with get-out-the-vote phone calls and an in-district mailing.

Ronan, 48, has already been fighting for his fellow West Haven residents as a four-term member of the West Haven City Council.

“I want to help my constituents have a voice in Hartford. We need more economic development and good stable jobs so our communities can flourish,” he said.

“Sean and I are not looking to be career politicians,” DiMassa reflected. “We want to bring a fresh perspective. We want to have a positive impact.”

Ronan added, “It’s noble to be in politics and want to help your constituents.”

Jim Tedford

Vernon: Jim Tedford

A sunny Friday in September recently found Jim Tedford of AFSCME Local 1471 (Vernon Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Water Pollution Control) at the XL Center in Hartford, where he spent a vacation day helping the Connecticut Mission of Mercy provide free dental care to more than 1,300 citizens in need.

“It’s about improving the human condition and paying it forward,” Tedford said during a break from his duties at the Mission of Mercy’s dental clinic, where he has volunteered for three years.

The 35-year town employee is taking the same approach to his candidacy for the 56th House District (Vernon and Rockville): “I see a lot of things that need improvement. I want to make my part of the state better.”

Tedford, a Republican, is currently serving his first term as a town councilman and garnered the highest number of votes in last year’s municipal election. As a past president of his local, and a current member of Council 4’s Delegate Assembly, he hopes to bring a fresh perspective to the Legislature if he’s elected.

 “I believe in unions. I’ve also seen what it’s like to lack the rights and dignity that come with having a union to protect you. I’d like to work with organized labor to advance legislation that helps everyone in the public and private sectors.”

Categories: News By Union

Fighting for Better Patient Care and R-E-S-P-E-C-T in Connecticut

Thu, 10/20/2016 - 11:16

Despite aggressive opposition from hospital management, workers at two Connecticut hospitals can now proudly call themselves AFSCME members.

Custodians, maintenance workers, lab techs, nursing assistants and others employed at Danbury and New Milford Hospitals, both managed by the Western Connecticut Healthcare Network (WCHN), voted to join Connecticut Health Care Associates (CHCA/AFSCME) on September 1. They’re fighting for respect on the job — for their patients and themselves.

“The main thing we’re hoping to get in the contract is better staffing levels that would make things safer for us and the patients,” says Jessica Ellul, a patient care coordinator at Danbury. “I think people are excited to see a change. Now that they have a voice, people feel like they’re part of this hospital again. We’re hoping to build a better relationship with management.”

Management tried to spread misinformation and divide workers from one another in the lead-up to the election. But hospital workers didn’t waver from their convictions: safety and quality care must come ahead of profits.

“I want to work in a hospital that not only I, but our whole community can be proud of,” said Melissa Zipparo. Shirnette Noble says she voted for the union because “our work safety depends on it.”

Now that they’re officially standing together as a union, WCHN employees are ready to begin speaking up for better patient care and a fairer workplace.

Categories: News By Union