41st International Convention   ·   July 14-18, 2014

AFSCME’s Got Talent!

by Olivia Sandbothe  |  August 12, 2014

AFSCME’s Got Talent!

We asked AFSCME members to share their talent on stage at the 41st International Convention and the results were amazing.

The grand prize winner (the contestant who raised the most money overall, throughout the contest) was Jack Campbell, Local 1771 (Pennsylvania Council 13), who sang a song he composed called “Lifeline,” about “becoming united and being together as one.” Campbell, a member of the Local 1771 Executive Board, won two airline tickets anywhere in the contiguous United States. 

The contest’s “PEOPLE’S Choice” winner (the contestant who raised the most PEOPLE contributions on the day of the finale) was Reuben Simmons, president of New York Local 814, Unit 6662, Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA)/AFSCME Local 1000. He won a two-night stay at a Hyatt or Hilton hotel anywhere in the contiguous United States.

The competition raised more than $14,000 for the PEOPLE fund.

When Simmons isn’t busy in his maintenance job with the City of Beacon, New York, he uses his musical talents to bring the union message to young people. He began rapping in 2010, when he was newly elected in his local and was becoming active in the Next Wave program.

“When I first got involved with CSEA, they sent me to the AFL-CIO Young Workers Summit in Washington, DC,” he says. “I started hearing about the challenges that young workers have and the importance of getting young people involved so that the union lasts.”

He continues, “I always felt that music motivates people, and especially the younger generation.  Right now people aren’t hearing about the union.  We built this country, but people, and especially young people, think that we’re dinosaurs or that we aren’t around anymore.”

Simmons says he worried at first that his union-flavored hip-hop was too corny, but after performing at conferences and conventions, he’s seen the positive influence it can have on people – even those who aren't in his target audience.

“I started doing it as a way to inspire younger workers and Next Wave members, but it touches the older generation too,” he says.

You can see highlights of more performances here

AFSCME Retirees: Also Bold, Brave, Determined!

by Karen Gilgoff  |  August 07, 2014

The AFSCME Retiree Council reelected its officers for another two-year term and made plans to step up retirees’ political involvement in the 2014 elections at its annual meeting, held in Chicago in conjunction with the recently convened 41st International Convention. More than 230 AFSCME retiree leaders attended the meeting, and more than 50 were official convention delegates.

Reelected were: Chair Gary Tavormina (New York Retiree Chapter 82); Vice-Chair Phyllis Zamarripa (Colorado Retiree Chapter 76); and Secretary Jim Moore (North Carolina Subchapter 165).

“It’s amazing how the AFSCME Retiree Council has grown since I first became involved,” Zamarripa said. “We now have almost 250,000 dues payers in 43 chapters. Just like the working members, we’re focused on organizing.”

The Retiree Council agenda included an organizing workshop and featured presentations by International staff on topics such as political and legislative action, Social Security and Medicare, pension protection, the Harris v. Quinn legal decision, PEOPLE fundraising and AFSCME Advantage member- benefits, all of which led to lively discussions.

The retirees also heard from two members of Congress, Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Stephen Horsford (D-NV), and from AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders and Sec.-Treas. Laura Reyes.

“We’re seeing attacks on collective bargaining, union rights, voting rights, pensions. We have to make our voices heard every day,” President Saunders told the retirees. He emphasized the importance of the elections this November, with 36 governors’ races and hundreds of state legislative races.

“It’s critical that we get rid of the people who are trying to destroy us, like Govs. Scott Walker and Rick Scott,” he said. “When it comes to fighting the bad guys, some of our best foot soldiers are the retirees. We clearly need your help this fall.”

“The retirees are ready,” Tavormina said. “In fact, we’ve been training for fights like this all our lives. For most of us, that’s a pretty long time.”

For more information on AFSCME Retirees, click here.


Stirring Story About Why We Need Immigration Reform Now

by Olivia Sandbothe  |  July 23, 2014

Stirring Story About Why We Need Immigration Reform Now

When Maricruz Manzanarez decided to come to the United States, she knew that she was setting out on a difficult path. Her journey across the border was treacherous, but that was only the beginning. She has spent decades trying to hold her family together and scraping by on low wages, all while navigating America’s broken immigration system.
But when Manzanarez joined AFSCME Local 3299, she saw that she wasn’t alone—and that she had power when she stood with her coworkers. She and her fellow custodians at the University of California-Berkeley nearly doubled their wages through union action. Now she serves on the executive board of the local and is speaking out about one of AFSCME’s national priorities: justice for immigrant workers.

The Voices of AFSCME Are Bold, Brave, Determined

July 18, 2014

The Voices of AFSCME Are Bold, Brave, Determined

Members at our 41st International Convention speak to the convention’s theme of "Bold. Brave. Determined.” Check it out!

Melvin Hughes Elected to Executive Board

July 18, 2014

Members on Thursday elected Melvin Hughes as International Vice President representing the Southwestern Legislative District. Hughes won the seat with 12,349 votes. He is president and a founding member of the Houston Organization of Public Employees (HOPE)/AFSCME Local 123.

As president of HOPE, Hughes negotiated two labor agreements and four across-the- board raises for City of Houston employees. He oversaw a major campaign which reduced health care costs for all city employees, and he was part of the successful push to raise the city’s base wage.

Hughes works in the Department of Public Works and Engineering in Houston, and has worked for the city for 20 years. He will finish out the unexpired term of outgoing IVP Greg Powell.

The Rev. Dr. Barber: Get Together and Win!

July 18, 2014

In an electrifying address that had Convention delegates on their feet and cheering repeatedly, the Rev. Dr. William Barber on Thursday underscored a message of coalition building and solidarity with references pulled from the civil rights and labor movements, as well as Scripture.

“We are all trade unionists. We are all civil rights activists. And it’s about time for all of us to get together and organize America like never before! It’s time to say to America, ‘We will not turn back now!’” he declared.

The Rev. Dr. Barber, pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and president of the North Carolina NAACP, is the architect of the Moral Mondays-Forward Together movement that began in North Carolina and is spreading across the nation. He charged that political extremists, backed by corporate billionaires like the Koch brothers, are pushing “an immoral agenda” that includes denying rights to workers, immigrants, women, African Americans, the LGBTQ community and others.

“And all these agendas intersect because all the same people fighting labor rights are fighting civil rights. So if they are together, by God, we ought to get together and fight them back!”

Working with allies is a winning strategy, President Saunders told delegates, pointing to the immense challenges we face. “The people who are trying to take out our union have a lot of money. That’s where they get their power,” he said. “But for workers like us, we get our power through solidarity. Solidarity with our union sisters and brothers, but also with a broad coalition of workers, retirees, students, clergy, community groups and even business owners who believe every worker deserves respect and dignity.”

The power of alliances with community organizations was demonstrated in an address by Barb Kalbach, board president of the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. Her fight with corporate-backed forces began with a personal fight to preserve her fourth-generation family farmer way of life.

But her fight is also AFSCME’s fight, she said. “What’s happening in farms is happening to you, too,” she said. It’s a “deliberate plan” by corporations and billionaires to “enhance their power in order to generate more profits,” she said. Fighting back “will take all of us pulling together, but when we’re done, family farms will then be passed to a new generation,” and we will have an economy “that values all of our public-sector workers.”

Paul Moist, president of our sister union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), offered his union’s support for AFSCME Michigan Council 25 in its fight against privatization of water services. He and members of his union will march over the Ambassador Bridge that connects Detroit and Canada next week.

The march is to show solidarity with AFSCME in opposing Detroit’s decision to turn off the taps to thousands for failure to pay their bills, and also to oppose privatization of the city’s public service jobs and to support the municipal retirees, who are faced with cuts to their benefits because of the city’s bankruptcy.

Among the successful member and ally campaigns showcased was one launched two years ago by New York’s Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA)/AFSCME Local 1000, which joined forces with New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, a statewide coalition of more than 130 community and consumer-based faith, labor, environmental, human services and other groups, to stop a planned downsizing of the State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn (SUNY).

“Two years ago, mismanagement and budget cuts led the state to question our hospital’s mission and explore outsourcing its services,” said CSEA Region 2 Pres. Lester Crockett. “For us, this wasn’t just an attack on our jobs; it was an attack on patient care, our community and a proud New York institution.”

Together, CSEA and New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness put up a fight that made the difference. Crockett said hospital staff joined patients and preachers to make public demonstrations to save the institution.

The state backed down and “threats of cuts, outsourcing and closings stopped,” Crockett said.

Describing a successful campaign to raise the minimum wage in Minnesota, Dennis Frasier, a member of Council 5’s executive board, was joined by Kris Jacobs, executive director of the Jobs Now Coalition. Working together, they were able to get lawmakers to raise the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2016.

AFSCME’s efforts to create a Medical Interpreters program in California were also highlighted during the program. Carlos Garcia, an interpreter and a member of UDW Homecare Providers/AFSCME Local 3930 explained how the union expanded its reach with the help of allies.

“To ensure quality of care and communication between health care providers and patients, the members joined forces with more than 40 organizations statewide including the Korean American Senior Association of San Diego County,” Garcia said.

Delegates approved 29 resolutions, including support for comprehensive immigration reform and the Dream Act, which would provide an avenue for undocumented immigrants to attend college. Maricruz Manzanarez, an executive board member of Local 3299 in California, shared her family’s story of struggle to stay together and achieve their American Dream.

“No matter your politics; no matter your birthplace; we are all human,” she said. “And the human dignities of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have no boundaries.”

Agenda for Friday, July 18

July 18, 2014

CalendarAll activities will take place at McCormick Place North,
2301 S. Lake Shore Dr. Chicago, Ill. 60616

Agenda is subject to change

Child Care
7 a.m. – 1 hour after session
McCormick Place North, Level One, Rooms N126 – N129

Constituency Group Caucuses
7:30 – 9 a.m., McCormick Place, North and South

  • Conservatives in AFSCME Room N137
  • Green Caucus Room N135
  • Progressives in AFSCME Room N230
  • Veterans Caucus Room S401 D

Luggage Hold
8 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
McCormick Place North, Level One, Room N140

8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
McCormick Place North, Level Three, Hall B,
Information and PEOPLE Booths only

Closing General Session
9:30 a.m.
McCormick Place North, Level Three, Hall B
Speaker: Sister Simone Campbell

(at conclusion of Convention)
McCormick Place North, Level Four, Room N426


Agenda for Thursday, July 17

July 17, 2014

CalendarAll activities will take place at McCormick Place North,
2301 S. Lake Shore Dr. Chicago, Ill. 60616

Agenda is subject to change

Elections (if necessary)
6 – 10 a.m.

Child Care
6 a.m. – 1 hour after session
McCormick Place North, Level One, Rooms N126- N129

8 a.m. – 1 hour after session
(closed during General Session)

Women’s World Café
8 – 9:30 a.m.
McCormick Place South, Level One, Grand Ballroom S100

General Session
10:00 a.m.
McCormick Place North, Level Three, Hall B

AFSCME’s Got Talent
Upon recess of session
McCormick Place South, Level One, Grand Ballroom S100

AA Meeting
6 – 9 p.m.
Hyatt Regency Chicago Hotel, Picasso Room

Ideas on Menu at the Women's World Café

July 17, 2014

Connect with your sisters and share your ideas for winning economic security for women by joining us at the Women’s World Café this morning at 8 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom, S-100.

Breakfast will be available for attendees starting at 7 a.m.

Directions to the Women’s World Café: from the shuttle level, take the escalators to the convention level. Walk to your left, away from the convention hall.

Make a right in the main hallway and take two escalators down to the first level. The Grand Ballroom (S-100) is on the left.

Election Today!

July 17, 2014

An election will be held today for International vice president (IVP) from the Southwestern Legislative District.

For delegates of that district, voting is from 6 – 10 a.m. in McCormick Place North, Level Two, Room N228.

To vote, delegates will need to show photo IDs and Convention badges.

They will receive paper ballots that will be scanned electronically to make the election results available more quickly.

If runoffs are necessary, they will occur on Friday, 6 – 10 a.m. at McCormick Place North, Level Two, Room N228.

Hard-working Cab Drivers Seek Union

by Joe Lawrence  |  July 17, 2014

Hard-working Cab Drivers Seek Union


CHICAGO  More than a thousand delegates to the 41st AFSCME International Union Convention hit the streets Wednesday in support of 12,000 Chicago cab drivers organizing as part of AFSCME Council 31. Delegates converged across the street from City Hall to show solidarity with the drivers, who are part of Cab Drivers United-AFSCME Council 31.

AFSCME International Union President Lee Saunders joined Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez, Illinois AFSCME Council 31 leaders Henry Bayer and Roberta Lynch, along with national civil rights leader Rev. William Barber, in addressing the rally. Cab Drivers United members David Mangum and Maxwell Akenten also spoke.

A report issued by AFSCME last month documented that Chicago’s 12,000 cab drivers on average are losing $7,531 annually as a result of regulations enacted in 2012 by City Hall. Increased lease rates, reduced work hours and increased credit card fees are among the regulatory changes that have drastically reduced the income of the drivers, most of whom work 60-70 hours a week for less than the federal minimum wage.

“Driving a taxi cab has never been an easy job,” Mangum told the rally. “But now it’s unbearable … they’ve put the squeeze on cab drivers.”

Drivers began organizing themselves into Cab Drivers United in the spring and have been rapidly gaining membership. Wednesday’s rally is another step forward in their campaign to win a voice in the regulatory process that controls their livelihood.

“They will be more powerful with AFSCME, and AFSCME will be more powerful with them!” AFSCME International President Lee Saunders told the delegates. “So let’s join their fight! Let’s stand together! Let’s join hands in solidarity and unite with the cabdrivers of Chicago!” “My brothers and sisters, thank you for standing with us in our fight for justice,” driver Atenken told the crowd. “We are AFSCME. Know that we will always stand with you, too. We will not forget this day.”


America Will Succeed When Unions Succeed

July 17, 2014

On Organizing Day at the AFSCME Convention, delegates got a surprise video message from the President of the United States, and a boost of energy from the Secretary of Labor on Wednesday.

On a day when delegates heard the stories of brave member activists and Volunteer Member Organizers (VMOs), and adopted six resolutions setting forth the union’s organizing strategy going forward, President Obama’s message told delegates: “If I were looking for a good job with good wages that lets me build some security for my family, I’d join a union.”

Labor Secretary Perez followed by saying, “America will succeed when unions succeed! Make your voices heard. That’s the most important thing we can do to grow the middle class.”

Perez also urged us to mobilize to get engaged in the elections in November. “Too many people still don’t have a job,” he said. “Too many people are working a full-time job and living in poverty.” But that can change through political action, he noted. “Make sure that your voices are heard. Elections have consequences!”

Ramogi Huma, president of the newly formed National College Players Association, told delegates why he became involved in organizing for the rights of college athletes
and recounted his group’s efforts to help Northwestern football players organize. The players won a major victory in March when a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board determined, for the first time, that college athletes are employees and have the right to form their own union.

“After they signed the cards, many doubted that we’d win,” he said. “They stood up, they stood together and they won!” He said their victory “ends a period of 60 years in which the NCAA made a pay-for-play system” to skirt federal labor laws.

“I am fully aware that workers’ rights are under attack in this country,” he noted. “College athletes are not exempt from this.... Those who would try to strip away the rights of college athletes are on the wrong side of history.”

Standing up for workers’ rights – by organizing – was the theme of Wednesday’s special program. VMOs from several states told Convention delegates of their personal experiences about building union strength to protect their rights. They were joined by new AFSCME members from several states who explained why they chose to sign up.

Among them were Susan Rowe, RN, a VMO with Iowa Council 61, and Cory Quist, a law librarian with the state library of Iowa and a newly organized member of Council 61.

Quist and his co-workers were ‘at will’ employees without union protection. “Because we were not covered by a union contract, the governor could and did target us,” he said. “He wanted us to dig into our paychecks and fork over more for health insurance while the state was sitting on a pile of surplus cash. We knew that the only way forward was with the power of a strong union. So we organized!”

“I became a VMO because now more than ever it’s important for all us to do our part and organize non- union workers,” Rowe explained. “We know the only way to survive in a right-to-work state like Iowa is to grow membership, and to stand united against attacks on rights and benefits.”

Vermont home care provider Mary Warren received a warm welcome from Convention delegates as she recalled a three-year effort by the state’s providers to build a union with AFSCME. It culminated last year in one of the largest union elections in the state’s history and was the nation’s biggest organizing win in 2013.

“To the people I care for, my job is vital and I wanted to build a union so that home care workers in Vermont could advocate for ourselves and our clients,” she said. “I traveled throughout the state knocking on doors, having kitchen-table conversations with hundreds of home care providers just like me who wanted a voice. And just last year, Vermont’s 7,500 home care providers came together and overwhelmingly voted for AFSCME!”

Warren said it was “the biggest union election in Vermont history and the largest organizing win in the nation in 2013. And it is already changing lives. The contract we fought so hard for will lift thousands of providers out of poverty. In fact, we went from $7.25 an hour to $10.80 an hour.”

Delegates passed seven resolutions: Building Power: Winning Full Collective Bargaining Rights (3); Organized, Quality Health Care Interpreter Services (13); Organizing Retirees to Build Union Capacity (46); Building Power for EMS Workers (68); Organizing the Unorganized (91); Volunteer Member Organizers (99); and Beyond the Challenge of Harris v. Quinn (88).

Delegates also showed their determination to build union strength by passing seven constitutional amendments:

  • An amendment to include Organizing Committees among the groups whose affiliates may unite to send delegates to the International Convention
  • An amendment to increase the maximum value of a paper ballot, increasing the cap from 500 to 5,000 votes
  • An amendment on convening a Special Legislative District Convention to elect an International Vice President
  • An amendment to give a subordinate body 45 days to appeal after advance notice is given by the president of the establishment of an Organizing Committee within its jurisdiction
  • An amendement to allow the electronic printing and distribution of International Convention reports
  • An amendment to provide for electronic meetings of subordinate bodies

An amendment that allows councils and local unions to adjust per capita tax rates and dues each year by directly applying the average percentage increase in membership pay to their established rates.

A Message from President Obama to AFSCME Members

July 16, 2014

A Message from President Obama to AFSCME Members


Today, President Obama urged our 4,000 delegates at the 41st AFSCME International Convention in Chicago to keep up the fight for working people:

“It’s people like you who make America work,” the President said. “And it’s unions like yours that helped build the greatest middle class the world has ever known.”

He vowed to stand with union members in the fight for better wages, retirement security and more flexible hours.

“Wages you can live on, and savings you can retire on, and workplace flexibility you can count on — whether you are a sanitation worker, a child care worker, or a home health aide. That’s what Americans who work hard and play by the rules deserve. That’s what we can achieve together, if we are bold, brave and determined enough.”

IVP Lillian Roberts: Living Legend

July 16, 2014

IVP Lillian Roberts: Living Legend


In recognition of a career spent fighting for the rights of working women and men in New York and Illinois, AFSCME on Tuesday honored International Vice Pres. Lillian Roberts with the AFSCME Lifetime Achievement Award.

Roberts, executive director of District Council 37, New York City’s largest public employee union, is serving her fifth term in that capacity. She also serves as vice president of the New York State AFL-CIO, vice president of the New York City Central Labor Council, and is co-chair of the Municipal Labor Committee.

President Saunders called Roberts “a friend, a colleague and a mentor to me personally and to countless others. Over and over again, she has stood up and fought for the hard-working people of New York City. Whether it’s for a fair contract, or against an outsourcing scheme, whether it’s getting members into affordable housing, or fighting harsh budget cuts – this sister has never, ever backed down.”

When she moved from Chicago to New York to join DC 37, she said, “all I cared about was the dignity of work, and I knew that I needed a union so I wouldn’t have to kiss somebody’s behind.”

That, she said, “is why we have a union. It’s the only force that you have that gives you the dignity. This union is the greatest in the world. It’s your mouthpiece for justice.”

We have our talented finalists

July 16, 2014

The finalists are set for AFSCME’s Got Talent, a karaoke competition that will be held in the Grand Ballroom (S-100) after the Thursday Convention recess. General admission is free, but you can reserve seats up front for $10 at the AGT stage.

There will be a cash bar and free snacks. And remember to bring some PEOPLE dollars so you can vote for your favorite contestant!

The AGT finalists are:

  • Jack Campbell, Local 1771 (PA Council 13)
  • Reuben E. Simmons Jr., CSEA Local 1000 (NY)
  • Jennifer Weekes-Osinowo, Local 562 (CT Council 4)
  • Jenny Hallas Foster, Local 3141 (MN Council 5)
  • Jeff Balch, Local 1891 (IL Council 31)
  • Karen Powers, Local 114 (WA Council 2)
  • James Adkins, OCSEA Local 11 (OH)
  • Charles DellaRocco, Local 749 (CT Council 4)
  • Wanda Wullschleger, Local 2620 (CA Council 57)
  • Heather Wolf & Becki Raffay, Local 2051 (IA Council 61)
  • Cheryl Stephens, Local 3947 (CA Council 36)
  • Nitsa Gomez Jimenez, Local 3889 (PR Council 95)
  • Erika Aleman, Local 3135 (OR Council 75)


July 16, 2014

Don’t forget to wear your AFSCME T-shirts and comfortable walking shoes for the rally today to support Chicago cab drivers as they try to organize with Council 31.

Shuttles to the rally will begin immediately after the close of session, and return you to the hotels after the rally.

PEOPLE, Activism Give Us Edge

July 16, 2014

PEOPLE, Activism Give Us Edge

What does political power look like? That was the question at the center of Tuesday’s special program, Building Political and Legislative Power. The answer, said activists engaged in AFSCME battles to preserve pension security, prevent “paycheck deception” and elect worker-friendly legislators, is member commitment and activism.

A home care provider when she joined the union, keynote speaker Sec.-Treas. Laura Reyes said taking that first step toward solidarity with other providers made a huge difference in her life. “When I found my UDW sisters and brothers, I was literally saved,” she said, referring to United Domestic Workers of America/AFSCME Local 3930. “We have all made that same choice! When I did, my life began to change.”

She said “we must lead others” to our union “so they too can lead, and benefit from employment possibilities unhindered by those who oppose our policies. Unlimited by those who oppose our goals of equality, and unrestricted by those who stand in the way of decency for all American workers. As we help them, they in turn empower us, and together we achieve justice for every working American family across this great nation.”

One way to gain that justice, she said, is by supporting AFSCME’s political action program, PEOPLE. She called it “our solution to getting out the vote and electing the right politicians” such as Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist and Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, both of whom later addressed the delegates.

Florida Council 79 Pres. Jeanette Wynn, also an International vice president, introduced Crist as “the people’s governor.” Crist, Florida’s governor from 2007-2011, is seeking AFSCME’s help to defeat Gov. Rick Scott, whom he described as “out of touch” with the middle class.

“When I was governor before, it was never about right versus left,” Crist said. “It was about right versus wrong. That’s why I refused to lower retirement programs for state employees,” and also why he vetoed bills that would have cut benefits for teachers and eliminated tenure.

In Wisconsin, Burke is running this year to unseat Gov. Scott Walker, who signed legislation in 2011 that revoked the collective bargaining rights of 200,000 Wisconsin public service employees, including more than 60,000 AFSCME members. As she stood before the Convention, more than 100 Wisconsin AFSCME members surrounded her and cheered.

“I’m fighting for people who are making the minimum wage,” Burke said.

“I’m fighting for women who don’t want politicians messing with our health care decisions ... and I am fighting for home care, health care and child care workers to ensure that they have a voice. And I am fighting for workers who were disrespected with the loss of collective bargaining.”

Activists from several states addressed the Con- vention, describing how their councils and locals won political fights thanks to the power of committed members. In Colorado, members of Council 76 fought efforts to suppress the vote of young people, the elderly, people living in rural areas and those with disabilities in a brazen effort to skew the election toward anti-worker candidates.

Agenda for Wednesday, July 16

July 15, 2014

CalendarAll activities will take place at McCormick Place North,
2301 S. Lake Shore Dr. Chicago, Ill. 60616

Agenda is subject to change

Child Care
7 a.m. – one hour after session, McCormick Place North, Level One, Rooms N126 – N129

Sector Caucuses
7:30 – 10 a.m.

Booths: 8 a.m. – one hour after session
(Closed during General Session)
McCormick Place North, Level Three, Hall B

General Session
10:30 a.m.
Hall B

Rally in Support of Chicago Cab Drivers
Come rally in support of Chicago Cab drivers who are trying to organize with AFSCME Council 31.
After General Session ends
Thompson Center
100 West Randolph Street

AA Meeting
6 – 9 p.m., Hyatt Regency Chicago Hotel, Picasso Room

Sec.-Treas. Reyes: Unions Make A Difference

July 15, 2014

Sec.-Treas. Reyes: Unions Make A Difference
In a rousing keynote address at AFSCME's 41st International Convention in Chicago, Secretary-Treasurer Laura Reyes told the assembled delegates that unions do make a difference:

"Yes, we have endured bumps and bruises along the way, and no doubt there will be more to endure tomorrow, but we all still stand in a better place right now!… The countless families of public service workers are not the only beneficiaries of our work. Our efforts have paved the way for an immeasurable number of non-AFSCME and even non-Union American working-class families, so they too can find a way to a better life and ultimately, move this nation’s economy towards one that thrives…Unions make a difference."

You can watch highlights from her speech below, and visit the Convention website throughout the week for more videos, photos and updates.

Sector Caucuses for Wednesday

July 15, 2014

Wednesday, July 16 | 7:30 – 9:30 a.m.

These caucuses, held simultaneously, will begin before the Convention convenes. A light breakfast will be served starting at 6:45 a.m.

Spanish translation will be offered in those caucuses marked with an asterisk.*

Administration and Finance
South Building, Level Four, Room S426 A
Anyone who works in government administrative functions including budget and finance, IT, courts, regulation and enforcement or similar functions.

Child Support
North Building, Level One, Room N137
Anyone who works in the administration or enforcement of child support.

Child Welfare
North Building, Level One, Room N139
Anyone who works for a child welfare or child protective services agency.

South Building, Level Four, Room S401 A
Anyone who works in the adult or juvenile corrections system.

Early Childhood Education
North Building, Level One, Room N135
Anyone who works for a Head Start or other pre-K program, in family child care, for a child care center, or for a before- or-after school child care program.

Emergency Services
North Building, Level One, Room N140
Anyone who works in emergency medical services, disaster response, 911 dispatch or other emergency services.

Employment and Vocational Services
North Building, Level Four, Room N426 B
Anyone who works for an agency that administers unemploy- ment insurance, job placement or training, vocational coun- seling or rehabilitation or similar services.

Environmental Protection and Parks*
North Building, Level Four, Room N426 C
Anyone who works for an agency that manages or protects the environment, or for a parks and recreation agency.

Higher Education
North Building, Level Two, Room N230 B
Anyone who works in a post-secondary educational institu- tion including a college, university or technical school.

Home Health/Home Care
South Building, Level Four, Room S401 D
Anyone who provides health care or other supports and services in a home setting.

Hospital-Based Acute Care
South Building, Level Four, Room S402 A
Anyone who works for a hospital, a hospital-affiliated clinic or a hospital system.

South Building, Level Four, Room S401 BC
Anyone who works in an agency that provides housing services.

K-12 Education*
North Building, Level Two, Room N231
Anyone who works in an elementary, junior/middle or high school.

Sworn Law Enforcement
South Building, Level Four, Room S403 A
Anyone who works as a sworn officer in an agency with law enforcement responsibilities.

Libraries and Other Cultural Institutions
South Building, Level Four, Room S405 AB
Anyone who works in a library or who works for a cultural institution such as a museum or arts agency.

Long-Term Care
South Building, Level Four, Room S404 A
Anyone who works for a facility where patients receive long- term medical care or other supports or services. This includes nursing homes, assisted living, and facilities for people with mental illness or developmental disabilities.

Outpatient Services
South Building, Level Four, Room S404 BC
Anyone who works in public health, a free-standing rehabilitation clinic, or an outpatient medical or mental health clinic.

Probation and Parole
North Building, Level Two, Room N230 A
Anyone who works with non-incarcerated offenders in the probation or parole system.

Public Assistance
South Building, Level Four, Room S404 D
Anyone who works for an agency that administers public benefits including TANF, food stamps, Medicaid or other need-based assistance.

Public Works
South Building, Level Four, Room S403 B
Anyone who works for an agency that provides public works services including solid waste collection or disposal, water or wastewater treatment or other services.

South Building, Level Four, Room S402 B
Anyone who works for an agency that designs, builds, main- tains or operates transportation systems including roads, public transit, bridges, airports, ports, ferries and parking facilities and taxi drivers.

Unions Are The Last Line of Defense for Working Families

July 15, 2014

Unions Are The Last Line of Defense for Working Families

We kicked off the 41st International Convention in Chicago with some big news: our union is 92,155 members stronger today than it was just a few months ago. 

President Lee Saunders made the announcement on Monday in his keynote address.

You can watch an excerpt of his speech below, and visit the Convention website throughout the week for more videos, photos and updates.

Sing Us a Song!

July 14, 2014

AFSCME's Got TalentDon’t miss out on the chance of a lifetime!

Sign up today for AFSCME’s Got Talent, the karaoke show that’s going to be fun for all, and also important for our fight to make sure the best politicians win their seats at the local, state and national levels.

This is a PEOPLE fundraiser.

So just visit the AFSCME’s Got Talent Showcase Stage A, located next to the PEOPLE booth at McCormick Place North, Level Three, Hall B.

That’s where you will enter your name for a chance to perform in the finals on Thursday.

Don’t forget, you need to tell us when you sign up what song you plan to sing.

The audience will vote with PEOPLE dollars to raise the money for the PAC and choose the winners.

92,155 !!!

July 14, 2014

With Volunteer Member Organizers leading the way, we nearly doubled our goal of signing up 50,000 new AFSCME members this year.

“Today, we are not just 50,000 Stronger. We are 92,155 stronger! 92,000 voices stronger! 92,000 fighters stronger! 92,000 warriors stronger!” Pres. Lee Saunders thundered in his keynote that launched the Convention. Delegates roared in approval.

The remarkable success of the 50,000 Stronger campaign, which was established as an internal organizing goal at a leadership summit in January, comes on the heels of a Supreme Court decision that undermines our ability to represent home care and child care workers. It serves as proof that determined face-to-face organizing is the best antidote for the gathering storm of attacks against public employees. That power to endure and overcome was the core message of President Saunders’ keynote address.

“You see, we know what it means to be caught in a storm. We understand what it means to be tossed on rough seas. Getting through the storm takes not only courage, but perspective. You have to focus on what you’re going through, yet envision where you want to be,” he told the delegates.

Monday’s program was a celebration of the dedication and determination of VMOs in building our strength and voice in the workplace. LaTonya Graham of District of Columbia Council 20 and Angela Brandel of Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA) were among the VMOs who shared their moving stories about the challenges and rewards of organizing new members. Their experiences had a common theme: While it takes courage to knock on doors and start conversations, the effort pays off.

Vibiana Saavedra, a VMO from California, led a passionate discussion about the ways that members are working to build our union. As a home care provider, Saavedra is one of the workers whose union rights were under attack by the court in the Supreme Court case Harris v. Quinn. Her message was clear: In today’s anti-worker political climate, union members must take bold action to fight back.

“The lawsuit was funded by billionaires. They wanted us to lose our union,” she said. “But AFSCME was prepared for this assault.”

And those opponents are more threatening than ever, as President Saunders made clear. The Harris v. Quinn case created new obstacles for home care and child care providers who are trying to improve their wages and working conditions. It is part of a well-funded effort by business groups who want to silence the voices of working people.

“Our opponents want to deplete the labor movement of resources, steal our power, silence
our voices and cripple us,” he said. “They are even undercutting the most fundamental right we have as Americans – the right to vote.”

He stressed how AFSCME affiliates nationwide refused to back down against political attacks. Since our last convention, we faced threats from elected officials in places like Enid, Oklahoma, and Jefferson City, Missouri, but members got organized and protected their jobs and rights.

Agenda for Tuesday, July 15

July 14, 2014

CalendarAll activities will take place at McCormick Place North,
2301 S. Lake Shore Dr. Chicago, Ill. 60616

Agenda is subject to change

7 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Hall B

Child Care
7 a.m – until 1 hour after recess, as needed
McCormick Place, N126-N129

7 a.m. – until 1 hour after session (closed during General Session)
McCormick Place North, Level Three, Hall B

7:30 – 9 a.m.
Workshop descriptions and locations

General Session
10:00 a.m.
McCormick Place North, Level 3, Hall B

Keynote Address: Laura Reyes, International Secretary-Treasurer, AFSCME
Program: Building Political and Legislative Power
Speaker: Charlie Crist, Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate
Speaker: Mary Burke, Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate

Commitee Meetings
Upon recess of the General Assembly
The Elections committee will meet in front of the convention stage

Nominating Caucuses - Southwest District
15 minutes after recess of General Session
McCormick Place N230b

AA Meeting
6 – 9 p.m., Hyatt Regency Chicago Hotel, Picasso Room

AFSCME Adds More Than 92,000 Members

July 14, 2014

CHICAGO – AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders today announced that, even in the face of attacks from anti-worker politicians, billionaires and judges across the country (including the United States Supreme Court), AFSCME gained more than 92,000 new members during the past six months.

AFSCME nearly doubled the goal set in early January 2014 when the union launched its “50,000 Stronger” organizing campaign.

“Today, we are 92,155 members stronger, with new members from EMTs to home care workers, and we will continue our fight for the middle class and the future of this country,” Saunders said.

“Our opponents want to deplete the labor movement of resources, steal our power and silence our voices. They are even undercutting the most fundamental right we have as Americans: the right to vote. Yet, no matter the challenges that face us, the answer remains the same: Organize. Organize. Organize. ”

Included in the 92,000-plus new members are more than 20,000 home care workers, who were the target of the National Right to Work Committee funded lawsuit, Harris v. Quinn, which was recently decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. These caregivers joined AFSCME to protect quality care for children, seniors and people with disabilities.

Saunders announced the organizing victories during his keynote address on the first day of the union’s 41st International Convention.

“Just two weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court undermined the freedom of home care workers and child care workers. But if anybody thinks we’re giving up because things got harder, they are wrong,” Saunders declared.

VIDEO: We Are 50,000 Stronger

July 14, 2014

AFSCME members across the country took up the challenge of organizing thousands of new members as part of the 50,000 Stronger campaign.

This video follows Freddie Seavers, a corrections officer from local 2173 in Tennessee; Orson Williamson, a facilities electrician from local 304 in Washington State; and Nana Nash, a care coordinator from local 328 in Oregon in their bold, brave, and determined efforts to organize new members.

‘Bold, Brave, Determined!’: 41st International Convention Points to Future

July 13, 2014

The electricity that 4,000 AFSCME Convention delegates and alternates will generate in the Windy City this week will light the way for 1.6 million AFSCME sisters and brothers nationwide who are counting on a “bold, brave and determined” direction for the future.
That’s the theme of our 41st International Convention: Bold, Brave, Determined. That’s what we must become as we stand up to some of the most difficult challenges workers – especially members of public service unions – have ever faced.
We’ve organized this week to focus on each of the four pillars of AFSCME’s Power to Win plan. For starters, today we’re highlighting one of the most important campaigns we’ve launched in recent years. This year, we’ve trained an army of Volunteer Member Organizers (VMOs) in an effort to grow our union by 50,000 new members by the start of this Convention. 
This campaign, which we call 50,000 Stronger, launched in January with a meeting of AFSCME leaders. Today, in his keynote address, Pres. Lee Saunders will reveal just how well we did.
VMOs also will be front and center in today’s special program. Some of those activists who took up our 50,000 Stronger challenge will tell their compelling stories.
Tuesday’s special program focuses on building political and legislative power. Activists from several states will describe their fight-back campaigns against attacks from extremist rightwing, anti-worker politicians. Sec.-Treas. Laura Reyes will deliver Tuesday’s keynote address, and Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke and Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist also will address the Convention.
Wednesday, we will highlight our efforts to grow our union through external organizing. We will highlight campaigns by Vermont home care providers, New Orleans taxicab drivers and most recently Chicago’s 13,000 licensed cab drivers to build power by organizing with AFSCME. We’ll take to the streets on Wednesday on behalf of those cab drivers. We’ll also hear that day from our friend U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Ramogi Huma, founder and president of the National College Players Association.
We’ll talk about building power with allies on Thursday. Barb Kalbach, president of the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund, and Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, will address the Convention. Delegates from the Southwest Region will elect an International Vice President, and we’ll participate in our first-ever AFSCME’s Got Talent karaoke competition.
President Saunders will wrap up our Convention on Friday with final thoughts and a challenge to turn the energy of this Convention into positive results in every state where AFSCME members live and work. We’ll also hear from Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, an organization active on critical issues, who in 2012 helped organize the “Nuns on the Bus” tour that fought against devastating federal budget cuts.
Throughout the week, delegates will also consider key policy resolutions and Constitutional amendments, and renew friendships while making new ones. We’ll leave Chicago bold, brave and determined together.

Save Your Extra Toiletries

July 13, 2014

We’ve all got them piling up in our rooms – unused bottles of cream, shampoo, mouthwash, even soap. Don’t just take them home. 
We’re collecting them to donate to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH). Since 1980, CCH’s mission is to ‘organize and advocate to prevent  and  end  homelessness, because housing is a human right in a just society.’
Please help the less fortunate by dropping off your contributions at the Information Booth.
Their thanks will follow you home.

Stand Up! Speak Up!

July 13, 2014

As an AFSCME delegate or alternate, you are among the most active, dedicated members of our union. So stop by the Video Booth to tell your sisters and brothers, both here and back home, how you are going to be bold, brave and determined in the months ahead.
This will be fun, and take just a few minutes. You might even see yourself up on the Convention’s big screen later this week.
The Video Booth is located next to the Wellness Booth at McCormick Place North, Level Three, Hall B. Just ask any Action Ambassador to point it out. It’s open from 7 a.m. until one hour after the General Session (it is closed during General Session).

Committee Meeting Locations

July 13, 2014

Committee Meeting Room
Appeals N137
Budget, Taxes & Economic Affairs N139
Constitution N226
Federal Policy S401a
Health Care N227a
Organizing N140
Political Action PEOPLE N426a
Resolutions N231
*Credentials Committee will meet at McCormick Place North, Level Three, directly behind the Registration area in Hall B.

Constituency Caucus Locations

July 13, 2014

Constituency Caucus Room
African-American N228
Asian/Pacific Islander S403a
Latino S406b
LGBT S402a
Next Wave S406a

Keep Your Shirt(s) On!

July 13, 2014

See what the best-dressed AFSCME delegate will be wearing this Summer and Fall at the PEOPLE Booth, your one-stop shop for shirts in every color and style made by Union/USA manufacturers! From golf shirts to polos to 
designer T-shirts, from stripes to solids and newly branded merchandise for Retirees, Next Wavers and Women, you can’t beat the selection or pricing!
And don’t forget to purchase the limited edition, commemorative 41st IU Convention PEOPLE T-shirt featuring the stunning Chicago skyline encapsulated in the iconic Bean. Both men’s and women’s cuts available in AFSCME green with white print. You’ll want to be in with the hip crowd on PEOPLE T-shirt day (Thursday).
The PEOPLE Booth is located at McCormick Place North, Level Three, Hall B. it is open today from 7 a.m. to one hour after the General Session. It is closed during the General Session.
Have a PEOPLE question? Stop by the PEOPLE Q+A Booth, directly across  from the PEOPLE Booth, where you can have all your PEOPLE-related questions answered.

Agenda for Monday, July 14

July 13, 2014

CalendarAll activities will take place at McCormick Place North,
2301 S. Lake Shore Dr. Chicago, Ill. 60616

Agenda is subject to change

7 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Hall B

Election Committee
8:30 – 10 a.m.
Location TBD

Opening General Session
10 a.m.
Hall B

Committee Meetings
Upon recess of General Session

2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
View Monday's workshops

Constituency Caucuses
3:45 – 5:15 p.m.
Room locations