Patton and Kunk 2018 AFSCME Family Scholarship Honorees

This year’s AFSCME Ohio Council 8 Family Scholarships are named in honor of Toledo unionist Theodore R. Patton, Sr. and Dayton Region Office Secretary Patricia Kunk.

Patricia Kunk began her AFSCME career in 1976, when she became office secretary for the AFSCME Local 101 Dayton Public Service Union. Two years later she became office secretary for the Dayton Region that was created with the formation of AFSCME Ohio Council 8, which unified the state’s eight AFSCME public employee councils.

Prior to AFSCME, she was employed for 13 years by the National Cash Register Company. In addition, she was active in politics and could be depended upon for block walks, door knocking, and phone banks. She retired in 2010 and still helps out in the Dayton office when needed.

Theodore R. Patton Sr. worked for the Toledo Public Schools for 36 years. As a Boiler Operator, he was a long-time member of AFSCME Local 272 which represents the district’s heating, maintenance, and security employees.

In addition to holding local union offices, he served as an Ohio Council 8 Toledo Regional Vice President. In 1985, Patton was elected Ohio Council 8 Secretary- Treasurer, a post he held until retiring in 2002.

He was active in the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, and served with the Toledo community project, Second Chance, which helps felons re-enter society and get their records expunged. He passed away early last year at age 89.

Applications for the $2,500 per year, four-year scholarships are available at regional offices or downloaded by clicking the link below:

2018 AFSCME Ohio Council 8 Patricia Kunk and Theodore Patton Scholarship packet

Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers

Source: Con Carbon

Along the Outer Banks in North Carolina, near where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Chesapeake Bay, are the treacherous waters known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” More than 600 ships have wrecked off the sandbars of the Hatteras Islands.  In 1871 the United States Lifesaving Service – a federal agency – was established to save the lives of shipwrecked mariners and passengers.  These first responders were called “surfmen” and, in North Carolina, they worked the desolate beaches.   In 1915 the agency was renamed the United States Coast Guard.

In 1880 Captain Richard Etheridge, a former slave and Civil War veteran, was appointed as keeper of the Pea Island Lifesaving Station, 30 miles north of Cape Hatteras.  When he arrived to assume his command, the white surfmen there abandoned the station, unwilling to serve under an African American.  Other black surfmen from other stations were transferred to Pea Island which became the first all-black lifesaving station in the nation.  For 70 years the Pea Island station was manned by an all-African American crew until 1947 when it was decommissoned.

Known for their courage and dedication the Pea Island lifesavers led many daring rescues saving scores of men, women and children.  In 1896, during a hurricane, they rescued the entire crew of the E.S. Newman for which — 100 years later — they were awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal.  In 1992 the U.S. Coast Guard commissioned a cutter, Pea Island, in memory of the African-American crews who served there.

“The general run of the work of the lifesavers is not the spectacular kind that sometimes gets into the newspapers.  The routine drill, the labor of keeping the station and the boats and outfit bright and clean and ready for business, and the lonely night patrol of the silent beach, constitute the bulk of the men’s work.”  Herbert H. Brimley, naturalist and visitor to the Outer Banks in Fire on the Beach, by David Wright and David Zoby, Oxford Univ. Press, 2000.

Honoring the National Moment of Silence

Today AFSCME members from across our state, and across the country, gather for a National Moment of Silence to pay tribute to Echol Cole and Robert Walker. We mark the 50th anniversary of the accident that killed Cole and Walker and started a movement. We honor their memory and sacrifice as we continue the fight for racial and economic justice. #IAmColeAndWalker

National Moment of Silence in Cincinnati

 

National Moment of Silence in Cleveland

National Moment of Silence in Canton

National Moment of Silence in Athens

National Moment of Silence in Columbus

National Moment of Silence in Montgomery County

 

National Moment of Silence in Warren County

Mansfield City Council Opposes Dirty Half Dozen Amendments

On Tuesday, the Mansfield City Council voted 6-2 to pass a bill condemning six proposed amendments to Ohio’s Constitution.

The amendments, known as Becker’s Dirty Half Dozen, have been introduced by Cincinnati Republican John Becker and are aimed at destroying the rights of working people to unionize. The amendments will reduce wages, benefits, and pensions for working people and their families, and will lead to more accidents and deaths. These amendments are anti-worker, anti-family, and will take money out of the pockets of hardworking Ohioans and put it in the bank accounts of out-of-state billionaires.

Dan Mapes, President of AFSCME Local 3308 in Mansfield, asked Council to unanimously approve the bill to oppose these six amendments before the vote.

(Dan Mapes, President AFSCME Local 3308)

“These amendments would have negative impacts on communities that are already struggling, and they’re all Right to Work measures,” he said. “Right to Work, it’s not what it says it is, and it’s absolutely not right for Ohio and the hardworking people that live here.”

Mapes said the changes would apply to all workers, not just those in unions.

“It covers everybody that puts boots on in the morning,” he said. “Anybody that works for a living is subject to these six constitutional changes.”

Fourth Ward councilman Butch Jefferson won applause from the audience after saying he opposed the six amendments.

“I understand unions. I know what they’re about,” he said. “They are so much responsible for a lot of the benefits and perks that workers have…There’s always somebody fighting the working man, trying to get rid of their benefits and perks that unions for years and years have fought for.”

Jefferson told the union members to “keep fighting,” saying, “As long as I’m up here, you will have my support.”

AFSCME Council 8 strongly opposes these six amendments and applauds the actions of the Mansfield City Council to stop them from becoming law.

GOP tax plan hurts communities, working families Lyall says

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NOVEMBER 3, 2017

GOP tax plan hurts communities, working families Lyall says.

Worthington – AFSCME Ohio Council 8 President John A. Lyall, issued the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives issued its tax hand-out plan that takes care of millionaires and corporations, but hurts working families:

“The tax plan released by congressional leaders yesterday will hurt the communities that public employees work around the clock to keep safe, healthy and strong. Working families are already struggling, while the super wealthy and corporations rig the rules to line their own pockets.

“Paying for these huge tax cuts will make the national debt skyrocket which Congress will use as an excuse to force cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other vital programs our communities and families depend on.

“The same working families Congress and the President promised to help are picking up the tab again. Under their plan, the tax breaks being eliminated are those that benefit working families. In fact, many middle class families, including Council 8 members, would see their taxes go up. This is because their plan would eliminate popular deductions such as student loan interest payments, as well as the deduction for state and local income or sales taxes.

“This dangerous tax plan doubles down on the same policies that have only helped the rich and powerful grow more rich and powerful, and failed the rest of us.”

AFSCME Ohio Council 8 represents approximately 38,000 public and private sector employees who work in a wide range of local government, health care, and education. For more information visit our web site at afscmecouncil8.org

Albers elected to OPERS Board

Julie Albers has been elected by an overwhelming majority to the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System Board of Trustees adding a second woman’s voice on the 11-member board.

“I want to thank those who circulated petitions to get me on the ballot and to everyone who worked so hard to get AFSCME members and other county workers to vote for me.  As the county employee representative, I promise to do my best on your behalf,” Albers said.

Albers is a Registered Respiratory Therapist at Cuyahoga County’s MetroHealth Medical Center and has contributed to OPERS for 26 years. She is President of AFSCME Local 3360, has served on the hospital’s Life Flight Team and has trauma and pediatric experience.

Her career as a healthcare professional will be invaluable helping the board maintain affordable health care benefits while assuring the long-term viability of the system.

According to AFSCME Ohio Council 8 President John A. Lyall, in years past labor had a majority on the board “and now the County seat is back with AFSCME where it belongs. This is an example of something that only a unified statewide organization can do,” he said.

Albers will join union leaders OCSEA/AFSCME President Chris Mabe, former AFSCME Council 8 leader Ken Thomas, and SEIU leader Cyhthia Sledz on the board.

ALERT – Scam Targeting AFSCME Members

We have been made aware that a sophisticated phishing and phone scam appears to be targeting AFSCME membership. The email, supposedly from President Saunders and in a screenshot below, is coming from the scam email address info@afscme.us.com and urges members to fill out a form to avoid furlough days. The reported phone calls say that members owe money to AFSCME. Obviously, none of this is true.

These scams are not affiliated with AFSCME and the union has no control over them.

Please do the following:

  1. DO NOT CLICK on the “stop recieving email” link at the bottom of the email.
  2. DO NOT RESPOND or open any attachments or click any links.
  3. Delete the email and contact your IT department.

We are actively tracking down who is behind them. If you have any questions, please contact AFSCME IT hotline at 202-429-1122.

(Click to enlarge the photo.)

 

AFSCME Retirees Active in Their Communities

On Saturday, August 19, AFSCME Retiree Subchapter 102, representing Gallia and Jackson counties in the Athens Region, set up an informational booth in the Gallipolis City park at the annual community yard sale event. Members distributed information on senior issues, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the federal health care legislation. Mike French of the AFL-CIO collected signatures to stop Right to Work is Wrong legislation in Ohio.

Pictured: Retiree Subchapter 102 Treasurer Keith McCarty, and President of Subchapter 102, Secretary of Chapter 1184 Executive Board, and a retiree representative on the Ohio Council 8 Executive Board Floyd Wright

America’s Biggest Public Union Leader Is in The Fight of His Life

Written by Hamilton Nolan from Splinter

With more than 1.6 million members, AFSCME is the nation’s biggest union of public employees, and one of the most politically powerful—and now, one of the most threatened. We spoke to Lee Saunders, the president of the union, about trying to survive the “battle” of the vicious new Trump era.

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees represents public workers ranging from sanitation workers to corrections officers to nurses—all the sorts of people that Scott Walker hates. The union is a major Democratic political donor. Lee Saunders has been AFSCME’s president for the past five years, and became one of Barack Obama’s closest confidantes in the labor world. Last week, Saunders came to our office to talk about legal threats to his union, organizing, politics, pensions, and navigating Trump world.

Splinter: You had a good relationship with the Obama administration. How has your relationship with the new administration been different?

Lee Saunders: There is no relationship. We are in the mode of organizing our members internally to educate them and to organize them in their communities across the country on the issues that working families care about, whether it’s retirement security, or health care—we’re having a big battle on health care in Washington, and, knock on wood, for the time being it looks like we’ve been successful. But it’s all about organizing. It’s about getting back to basics, and grassroots organizing at the local level. So regardless of what happens in Washington DC, or in the state governments, where we are also under attack, I think it’s all about organizing and going back to those basics. Communicating with our folks, talking with them, talking about the issues, and listening to what they have to say…

We’ve got to fight for what I believe to be our basic freedoms. We’ve got to fight for health insurance. We’ve got to fight for retirement security. We’ve got to fight for a voice on the job. Those are all freedoms that working families should have, and people are trying to take away those kinds of freedoms. We’re in a battle.

When you say there hasn’t been a relationship with the new administration, does that mean there has been no outreach from them at all?

Saunders: One of the plans, quite honestly, is that this current administration believes they can divide and conquer. They’ve had discussions with the building trades, they’ve had some discussions with the industrial unions. They have not had any discussions with the public service unions at all. So we have had no contact with the Department of Labor. What we do know is that they’re trying to take away some of the rights that we were able to obtain during the Obama administration. The regulations that were passed, the overtime rule, all those kinds of things—it’s up in the air, nobody knows what’s going to happen. Again, we have to understand we’re in a fight.

Clearly the Trump administration is trying to cultivate the building trades, but not other unions. Have there been conversations behind the scenes about that between all the big unions?

Saunders: Sure. I think we’re putting things on the table and we’re being honest with one another. I have a very strong relationship with the president of the building trades, Sean McGarvey. We sit down and we talk. I think that they know sooner or later President Trump will not be supportive of working families, will not be supportive of their members. But they’re willing to sit down and talk and listen to what he’s got to say. He made a lot of promises when he was running for president. He talked about how he was gonna be supporting working families. He talked about how he was gonna create jobs, bring back jobs to this country. He believed in goods being made in America. Well, you can talk the talk, but you’ve also got to walk the walk. And quite honestly he’s not walking the walk on any of those kinds of issues. And we’re going to have to continue to sit down and talk within the labor community about what he’s trying to do—divide and conquer.

Would you like to see the entire labor community stand up say, essentially, “We’re part of the resistance?” Or is that unrealistic?

Saunders: It’s a broad cross section of folks that we represent, and I think that will be difficult for some unions to say. I think what we’ve got to do is communicate and organize and mobilize our communities and our members—not talking about individuals, not talking about the elections in 2018 in November, because honestly a lot of our members are turned off by politics. On both sides. We’ve got to talk about the issues that impact them and their families, and how we can fight back and make our voices heard like never before. I think if you go about doing it that way, we’re going to be able to build an army of folks, along with our progressive partners outside of the labor movement, where we’re fighting back on the issues that working families care about.

A lawsuit that’s making its way to the Supreme Court, Janus v AFSCME, could make public unions like yours “right to work”—which would be a serious blow to your ability to collect dues and maintain membership numbers. What are your thoughts on the suit?

Saunders: I’m not optimistic. If you look at the makeup of the Supreme Court, I believe that this time next year, this country will be right to work in the public sector. We can’t hide from that, we can’t bury our heads in the sand. The question is, what do we do about it? AFSCME has been very aggressive in making a lot of changes in our union, dealing with what we believe [will] be the Supreme Court ruling against us and overturning 41 years of law with the [Abood v. Detroit Board of Education decision, which allowed public unions to collect agency fees from all workers in union shops, to cover the costs of representing the workers]. We’ve developed a program called AFSCME Strong, which is essentially back to basics. It’s talking with our members one on one, and listening to our members… At one time, we treated all of our members as if they were activists. And all of our members aren’t activists. That doesn’t make them bad people. They love their union. They understand the value of being a union member. But it also means that their plates are full, and they can’t devote 100% of their time to being a union member. And there’s nothing wrong with that…

Our folks are public service workers. They didn’t get into that profession to become millionaires and billionaires. They got into that profession because they care.

Public unions have been a popular political target, especially on the state level, in Wisconsin and elsewhere. Is there a way to make the public care about what’s happening to them?

Saunders: Quite honestly I think we have not done a good job of educating our communities and the public at large about what public service is all about—how people rely and depend upon those public services every single day, whether it’s picking up the trash, keeping your water clean so you don’t get sick when you drink it, repaving and rebuilding roads, providing health care services, providing child care services, providing home care services, having workers in libraries that work with kids. That’s the kind of work that our members perform. And we’ve got to promote that kind of work, because communities rely up on that. And sometimes that connection is not being made, where we’re providing those essential public services, yet we’re under attack.

Are you projecting a certain amount of membership loss, if the Janus case goes against you and you’re facing a “right to work” situation?

Saunders: I think there will be a loss of membership. But by the same token, with what we’re trying to do in recasting and rebuilding our program and developing the kind of strategy that I just talked about, I think that in many ways we can be a stronger union. And maybe a little bit smaller. But a stronger union, where we’ve made the connection where non-members are saying, “Wait a minute, I need this. And this is important to me. So I should be a member, and not someone who’s relying upon the benefits but not paying a dime. That’s not fair.”

Is there a way to turn around the steady decline of union membership on a national level?

Saunders: There better be. If we don’t do it, then I hate to think about tomorrow. I mentioned the fact that AFSCME is an organizing union. We grew by 12,000 members last year. We’re organizing not only in public service.. but we’re organizing on a national basis EMTs, we’re organizing in hospitals. Because we actually believe that even if it’s a private hospital, it’s still a public service. You’re helping your community, you’re providing an essential service. We’re gonna continue to identify the kinds of targets that should be organized, and you’ve got other unions that are doing the same thing.

Here’s the problem: in the public sector, it’s about 35% organized. In the private sector, it’s about 6.1%. You cannot have a healthy labor movement with that variance in percentages. And we’ve got to also be committed, while we have the strength and the power and the resources, to help our sisters and brothers in the private sector to organize, so we can increase the density and move that marker from 6.1% to a higher level. And we’re prepared to help and provide resources to do just that… one of the things that we’ve got to do is to push and cajole some of our sisters and brothers in the private sector to treat organizing as a priority, as we treat it.

What accounts for the fact that public sector union density is so much higher than in the private sector? If it’s only the fact that you haven’t had to contend with “Right to Work” laws, it’s a grim prognosis for you in the near future.

Saunders: It’s hard, man. It’s hard to organize, especially in the private sector. Because we don’t have a level playing field, as far as the labor laws in this country. At one point, it was easier to organize in the public sector. Now it’s becoming just as difficult, with the kinds of governors and state legislatures and elected officials that we’ve got to deal with. It’s hard. And it doesn’t happen magically—it happens because you’ve got to be committed to it, it happens because you’ve got to put resources into it, and that’s what we’re doing.

Do you think there’s a tension between the resources you put into politics, and the resources you put into organizing? Is that a zero sum game?

Saunders: Organizing is our number one priority. We spend about 30% of our budget on organizing. But we also believe that we have the ability to play heavily in the political arena. And especially where it matters most to our members—and it matters most to our members when you talk about governors races, state legislature races, city council races, and things of that nature. If you get them enthused and active in the local fight around politics, then you can start connecting the dots as far as the importance of federal politics associated with that. But a lot of our members say, “Why spend all this money on politics? Because it doesn’t matter.” I think what happened in 2016 was you had a lot of frustrated people who said, “It just doesn’t matter. We don’t care who’s in charge, because it just doesn’t matter.” And that’s why we’ve got to organize around the issues that impact them, and their communities, and their families. We’ve got to play. We’ve got to participate in the political arena. That’s how we’ve been able to move things in a positive way, not just at the bargaining table, but through legislation.

You talk about retirement security. But when you look at the huge holes in public pension plans across America, do you get a sinking feeling?

Saunders: As far as we’re concerned, retirement security and the pensions that our folks have worked for should be off the table. Why do I say that? Our people pay into their pension programs. This is not a gift that comes from the employer. They put their hard earned money into that pension, and they should be receiving a fair return on the dollars they put in. Now, you also have a smaller employer match with those pension plans. Yet you have had politicians that decided that they don’t have to put any money into that pension program. Even if it’s constitutionally mandated! They’ve ignored that. And then they come running and say, “Now we’ve got problems with the pension program.” Well obviously you [will], if you aren’t meeting your requirement of putting money in, and then attacking the very people that have put their own money in and expecting they’re gonna have a decent retirement…

We’re very active in the city of Detroit, when the city went bankrupt. The average pension in that city was $18,000 a year. That was the average pension benefit. Do you think that’s a lot of money? The folks who wanted to concentrate on taking money away from workers and retirees, they wanted to cut that by 40%. Just because they said, “We’re out of money. We don’t have the luxury of paying pensions.” Rather than looking at the corporations and the people who actually put that city under. We were able to fight back, and we organized and mobilized. We took a hit but it wasn’t near 40% at all. So you’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.

Do you think that the decision of most unions to get behind Hillary Clinton was a mistake, in retrospect?

Saunders: We were a strong Hillary supporter. I don’t think it was a mistake. I think that we underestimated the frustration and the anger that was out there, even with our own members, because they weren’t seeing any major improvements. And Trump was able to hit the chord about bringing jobs back, about getting rid of NAFTA, about making it in America, bringing the coal mines back. He hit a nerve. I think folks were saying, “It’s bad enough for us now, so why don’t we give this a chance?” And that was because of the level of frustration and the level of anger that’s out there. He talked a good talk, but he’s not walking the walk. You look at who he’s appointed to the cabinet positions—billionaires. Wall Street types. You look at what he’s trying to do. Saying he’s creating jobs? He’s not creating jobs. He’s not saving plants He went to Indiana, he said he was going to save that entire plant. That didn’t happen. There are companies that are continuing to move out of this country. It’s a shell game. What he’s presenting and promoting is completely false, and it doesn’t benefit working families…

When you’re talking about 22 million people losing health insurance, when you’re talking about cutting Medicaid by over $700 billion, that has a direct impact on families. And we’ve got to connect those dots, so people say, “This is worth fighting for, and I can make a difference.” They would say in the past, I think, “This is worth fighting for,” but by the same token they would say, “but we can’t make a difference.” We’ve got to make sure that they understand that in fact through coalition-building, through their unions and working with other organizations within our communities, they can make a difference.

Do you think the election of Trump has energized the left so much that we’re entering a new period of activism, like the 1960s? Or in fact are we entering a darker time, like the 1970s, and this is just the beginning?

Saunders: I’m hopeful and optimistic that if we do it the right way… that this could be a time when people are more engaged, and are willing to fight for the issues they believe in. Rather than saying it doesn’t matter, and they bury their heads in the sand. This is not gonna be a pretty picture, if this country is continuing to move in the direction that it’s moving. And I think that people have got to understand that, and we can help them in understanding it. The question will be, will it be a call to arms? And will we be able to activate a lot of people that are disenfranchised right now, that are frustrated right now, that are very, very angry? I think that we can do it.

Have you spoken to Obama since he left office?

Saunders: I have.

And did he have anything interesting to say?

Saunders: [Laughs] I’ll keep that between the president and myself.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders Statement on Failure to Pass “Skinny” Repeal of ACA

WASHINGTON — 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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