DC 1707 members and leadership RISE UP at the 43rd International Convention
DC 1707 Convention Delegates Step to the Plate Swinging Against Injustice
AFSCME International Convention Meets the Challenge
Set by Anti-Worker Zealots
BOSTON ----The Janus decision by the US Supreme Court was passed down on June 27. It is the culmination of the nightmare imposed on millions of public workers that attempts to snatch their rights to remain in a union.The right-wing billionaires and other right-wing wannabees are ecstatic but they know that to break unions across the county they will need to deceive and bully.
But the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is prepared to meet the challenge. Pardon the extra sports metaphor, but it’s a heavyweight battle of strength, will and determination.
AFSCME has been preparing for this fight for three years. AFSCME and other public unions have programs that listens to members and educates them against the “freedom” garbage spin that the anti-union plotters use to misinform workers that they do not need to pay dues because they do not need a union. Hello.
It is not by accident that women comprise a majority of AFSCME members working in public service. Women of color make more money than their unorganized neighbors because they have a union and collective bargaining agreements. It is a better way to raise families and join the American middle class.
Convention Opens with Member Education and Tenacity
Less than a month after the Janus decision on July 16 AFSCME opened its 43rd Convention in Boston to the roars of thousands of delegates. Amid the speeches, trainings and workshops that begun at 7:30 AM and with some finishing daily after the convention ended, DC 1707 delegates, alternates and staff trudged through the long corridors of the Boston Convention Center to learn about organizing, representation and political action.
After the end of the long week, they received their Rise Up Institute Certificates which many proudly displayed. They are preparing to go back to their jobs and break the news to their colleagues and their bosses, if necessary, that their union is here to stay.
They were echoing the sentiments expressed by AFSCME President Lee Saunders, who was particularly direct and emotional as he spoke to convention. The hall was unusually quit as members listened for the direction the union would take after Janus. They were not disappointed.
“The Janus decision is a roadblock, but we will maneuver around it or just run over it. AFSCME has been around for more than 80 years, and we will be here 80 years from now,” bellowed Saunders to a standing ovation. “We’re not going anywhere. Our enemies cannot take our union away from us. They don’t get to write our next chapter. We do.”
Following the convention that day, Council Executive Director Kim Medina told members that every member needs to understand the Janus decision and its impact on the labor movement. She rallied members to show solidarity with public workers like DC 37 and CSEA, the two AFSCME affiliates in New York City.
“While we are not subject to the Janus decision because DC 1707 represents private not-for-profit social service employees, we must remain diligent. We must push AFSCME Strong to our members. We must listen and we must confront those employers that want to take advantage of our members during this period of confusion,” she said.
“Some employers will tell you that we are affected by Janus, but we are not and we will fight long and hard to protect our members and our contracts.”
Speakers Say Members Must Prepare for the Fights Ahead
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren gave some plain-spoken pointed remarks regarding her support for unions and the broad political fights ahead. “Janus was not an accident. It was designed, funded and pushed through the courts by right-wing billionaires who had three things in mind – Kill the unions. Kill the unions. Kill the unions,” she said.
Other speakers included Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who stills pays his unions dues in Boston; New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy; AFT President Randi Weingarten; SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and NEA Secretary-Treasurer Princess Moss.
DC 1707 Members took to the mikes to express support of various resolutions and amendments.
It was a busy week for members. For first-time delegates there was a training to prepare them for the convention week. A first-timer said she learned a lot about the union through the convention. She noted the 1.6 million AFSCME members in the US, including Puerto Rico. “We have a lot of members. We can change things,” she said.