|AFSCME Iowa Council 61 - Every Day. Everywhere. Making Iowa Better.|
November 26, 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. It lets us sit back and take stock of things that are really important in life. Many of us will spend the day with family. Others will use the time off to take a vacation. Some will just be pleased to relax and watch some (hopefully good) football games.
Many other Americans will be working on Thanksgiving. This includes many of your AFSCME sisters and brothers. For these workers, working on Thanksgiving is often a necessity to keep the public and vulnerable Iowans safe. Even when this is not the case, all AFSCME members working on Thanksgiving Day are doing so under a union contract where workers had a strong voice in determining their terms of employment. I want to thank all AFSCME members who will be working tomorrow.
However, there are other types of workers who will be working tomorrow. These workers do not have collective bargaining and do not have a voice on the job. These workers often work for low wages and have few benefits despite working for massively wealthy national retail chains. Some of these workers have been told “if you do not come to work on Thanksgiving, you will automatically be fired.”
I will not be shopping on Thanksgiving. I urge you not to shop on Thanksgiving. When doing your shopping later, I urge you to remember which businesses are opening on Thanksgiving and which businesses are not opening on Thanksgiving.
This trend of forcing workers to work on Thanksgiving is a symptom of a larger problem: the vast majority of retail workers do not have a voice on the job. Attempts to form a Union are often met with strong-arm tactics by their employers.
One company has been at the forefront of anti-worker tactics: Wal-Mart. You can read more about Wal-Mart’s labor record here. This Black Friday, there will be protests against Wal-Mart around the country. You can look up whether there is a protest in your area at http://www.blackfridayprotests.org.
I am thankful for my country, my family, and the solidarity of my Union. As a labor movement, we know that our country will be stronger when more workers can experience the solidarity and security of being a union member.
Hundreds of thousands of Walmart workers struggle to afford basic necessities, even though they have a job. That’s why, on Black Friday, AFSCME members and thousands of others across the country will join Walmart workers like Martha and John Paul to protest Walmart’s treatment of its employees.
We know that money can be a big obstacle when it comes to higher education. That’s why AFSCME provides scholarships to help members and their families reach their educational goals.
Noting that action was necessary “because extremists in Congress have failed to do their jobs,” AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued a statement in support of President Obama’s executive order on immigration.
November 22, 2014
AFSCME Local 2987 (Independence Mental Health Institute) is spreading Holiday Cheer! Click "Read more" to see two pictures where AFSCME Local 2987 members are presenting $500 donations to Operation Santa and the Independence Food Pantry.Read more >>>
November 21, 2014
Thank you to AFSCME Local 1868 (Polk County Employees and City of Ankeny Public Works Employees) for their generous donation to Toys for Tots! AFSCME Local 1868 is definitely spreading holiday cheer this season.
Left to right: Ronnie Morgan, John Tyler, Santa, and Amanda Tyler.
Click on "Read more" to see a larger picture.Read more >>>
November 11, 2014
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
On this Veterans Day, please take a moment to thank any veterans you may know as well as their families. And during the rest of the year, for this year and all the years to come, remember our veterans and support them and the services they need.
October 30, 2014
Our newest volunteer of the week is Dan Bednar of AFSCME Local 3015! Dan understands how this election will impact our collective bargaining rights and the future of our families and communities. Dan has volunteered countless times to help his State Senator, Daryl Beall, who is a friend to all working families. Dan also makes sure to explain the importance of this election to his AFSCME sisters and brothers, his friends, and his neighbors.
Click "Read more" to see a larger version of the picture of Dan.Read more >>>
October 24, 2014
Our newest volunteer of the week is Candace Acord of AFSCME Local 3289! This past month, Candace has sent her weekends helping members and voters sign up to vote early in this years elections. This past week after a day of door knocking in the rain, Candace organized a Chili Phone Bank for State Senate Candidate, Kevin Kinney in North Liberty. Little things like this help motivate volunteers into our final push the last week before GOTV. Thank you Candace!
Click "Read More" to see a higher resolution picture of Candace and picture of the chili at Candace's phone bank!Read more >>>
October 16, 2014
Our newest volunteer of the week is Mike Gass of AFSCME Local 451! Mike has been tireless in his efforts on behalf of AFSCME recommended candidates. He has knocked doors in Altoona for Joe Riding and Chaz Allen, knocked doors in Urbandale for John Forbes, and traveled to Ottumwa to knock doors for his AFSCME brother Steve Siegel. Mike makes sure that his AFSCME brothers and sisters understand the impacts that elections have on their jobs and their families.
Click “Read more” to view a larger picture of Mike!Read more >>>
October 10, 2014
Andy Bock of AFSCME Local 96 is our newest volunteer of the week! Andy has always been a very active political volunteer and is kicking his volunteering into an even higher gear as we approach this important election that will affect our members, their families, and our communities. Andy has door knocked for many AFSCME recommended candidates including Chaz Allen, Joe Riding, and Steve Siegel. He has phone banked his AFSCME brothers and sisters to encourage them vote by mail. He is also very active locally in Story County in signing up members to early vote and works closely with Senator Quirmbach, his state senator.
(Click "Read more" to see a larger picture of Andy Bock just before he heads out to knock some doors!)Read more >>>
October 6, 2014
Deb Murphy of AFSCME Local 2985 is our volunteer of the week! Deb has been a strong political activist this campaign, coming in Wednesdays to phone bank for Linn County State Representative, Daniel Lundby. To add to this, Deb brings her 14 year old grandson, Keagan, with her and puts him to work as well. She teaches him the importance of voting and helping elect public officials who care about working families. Deb is doing all she can to stand up for her fellow union members and her community by staying involved this last month of the election.
(Click "Read more' to see a larger picture of Deb and Keagan as they phone bank.)Read more >>>
October 1, 2014
Jean McMaken of AFSCME Local 96 is our volunteer of the week! Jean volunteers at least two nights a week for her local Iowa Senate candidate Herman Quirmbach. On the other nights of the week she makes member to member phone calls in our targeted legislative races. On most Saturdays and Sundays she is out door knocking in her community and elsewhere. During the primary election Jean traveled to Ottumwa to knock doors for Steve Sieigel, one of her AFSCME brothers. Jean is passionate about the cause and is someone we can always rely on to do whatever is needed to elect candidates that support the middle class.
(Click "Read more" to see a larger picture of Jean with Rep. Mark Smith.)Read more >>>
September 26, 2014
Mike Weinard is our volunteer of the week! Through out this election, Mike has stepped up to any task, whether it be canvassing, making phone calls, or taking out the office trash, Mike is there for our team. This week alone, Mike has volunteered on four different campaigns. Starting with Kevin Kinney last Saturday in North Liberty, driving to Waverly on Sunday to help our Union sister, Teresa Meyer, continuing the week helping make phone calls for local candidates, and ending it supporting Daniel Lundby in Marion.
Mike is a retiree of AFSCME Locals 183 and 2983.
Mike works tirelessly to support candidates that respect public employees and value the services we provide to our community. Please give Mike a thank you for all he does for his AFSCME brothers and sisters.
Click "Read more" to see two larger pictures of Mike volunteering.Read more >>>
September 24, 2014
(Pictured Left to Right at ALS Walk: Morgan Williams (daughter of Jason), Local 212 Vice President Jason Williams, Local 212 President Chris De Harty, Local 212 Executive Board Member Wage Boogerd, and Local 212 Executive Board Member Ron Isaacson)
While the nationwide awareness of ALS has increased dramatically with the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge, members of AFSCME Local 212 were already well aware of the struggles of those fighting ALS. That’s because Jerry Barcus, a 26 year employee of the City of Sioux City and Local 212 member, has been battling ALS since 2012.
September 19, 2014
DES MOINES – AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan issued the following statement regarding the recent discovery of drugs and contraband at the North Central Correctional Facility in Rockwell City:
“Director Baldwin needs to come clean about the effects of low staffing and the lack of sufficient training at Iowa’s correctional facilities. The discovery of approximately 600 pills, four cell phones, and four cell phone chargers at the North Central Correctional Facility represents a failure of Warden Cornell Smith, Director John Baldwin, and Governor Terry Branstad’s correctional policies.
“Since this incident, numerous inmates at the North Central Correctional Facility have tested positive for marijuana. Yet no marijuana has yet been found. So our question for Warden Smith and Director Baldwin is: where is the marijuana?
“For years Director Baldwin and Governor Branstad have claimed Iowa’s correctional facilities are sufficiently staffed. This recent major discovery of contraband once again shows those claims to be false.
“Iowa’s correctional system employees work hard every day to keep us safe. It is my understanding that no employees of the North Central Correctional Facility are responsible for bringing this contraband into the prison. We believe that it was a member of the public which perpetrated this major security breach.
Warden Smith, Director Baldwin, and Governor Branstad need to take responsibility for their policies that have led to low staffing, insufficient training, and this security breach in Rockwell City."
Danny Homan Remarks at the Nuns on the Bus Rally for the 100%.
September 17, 2014
AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan spoke at the Nuns on the Bus Rally for the 100%. His remarks focused on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the need to raise the minimum wage.
Jim Payton, recently retired from the Iowa Medical and Classification Center, pays tribute to veterans
September 8, 2014
In February, Jim Payton retired after many years as a proud AFSCME Local 2985 member and correctional officer at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville. Jim helped keep us safe in more ways than one. Not only did he work for many years as a correctional officer – he’s also a veteran.
When Jim saw the poor condition of the seats in the Veterans Memorial Building’s auditorium in Cedar Rapids, he knew he had to find a way to pay tribute to our nation’s veterans by repairing the seats.
Jim worked with other veterans at the Iowa Veterans Welcome Center to get started on the painstaking process of restoring the seats. About half the seats have been repaired so far.
Jim’s work was recently featured in a Cedar Rapids Gazette story and video.
Take a moment to read a bit about the efforts of Jim and his fellow veterans. It will definitely make you feel proud.
September 8, 2014
Dear AFSCME Local Presidents and Recording Secretaries,
We have some exciting news about a new way AFSCME members can show their Union Pride and support some great causes. Last year, we introduced T-Shirts to raise money for breast cancer awareness and research. The shirts were quite popular and many members requested more ways that they could support the fight against breast cancer and other worthy causes.
AFSCME Iowa Council 61 is proud to announce that we are selling support pins. The proceeds will go to various charitable efforts. We have four support pins: a pink ribbon to support breast cancer awareness and research, a yellow ribbon to support veterans and their families, a red ribbon to support the Special Olympics of Iowa, and a purple ribbon to support the Workers Memorial.
Pins can be purchased for $5 each.
Click "Read more" in order to reach a page where you can download a flier with a larger image of the support pins.
Individuals or Local Unions can purchase the pins. For questions on ordering, please stop by or contact the AFSCME Iowa Council 61 office.
These are great causes and I strongly encourage AFSCME Iowa Council 61 members to support them.
Danny Homan, President
August 26, 2014
AFSCME International takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge - the video includes AFSCME International President Lee Saunders, Steve Fantauzzo, and Jessica Weinstein accepting the challenge issued by AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan.
Click "Read more" to go to our AFSCME Gear Catalog page and to learn how you can order your AFSCME gear! Read more >>>
May 22, 2014
It’s hard to imagine far-right wing political ideology becoming so twisted that one of its standard bearers would step up to a podium and assert poor children are better off going hungry.
Yet when Paul Ryan addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this spring he did just that, bashing progressives for supporting federally funded school lunch programs. He accused those of us, uncomfortable with children going hungry, of offering them “a full belly and an empty soul.”
In service of this deeply troubling belief, he told a story about a boy getting a federally funded school lunch who asked for it in a brown paper bag like his classmates, because that – according to Ryan – meant they had parents who cared about them.
Paul Ryan’s politics dictates that it’s better for a child to go hungry than get help. Paul Ryan’s politics dictates that parents who rely on public assistance don’t care about their children. Paul Ryan’s politics dictates that those who are down on their luck – even children – are soulless, not the Wall Street bankers who crashed our nation’s economy and continue to crush the American middle class, necessitating such assistance in the first place.
It speaks volumes that Ryan's CPAC story wasn't even true. The politician, who was himself something of a serial fibber during his failed 2012 campaign, attributed this brown bag story to a political appointee of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Walker’s appointee testified before Congress last year that she met the boy in the story, which was a lie. She yanked the story out of a book.
Here we have the quintessential right-wing ideologue talking point: It pushes shameful policy, it conveys utter disdain for Americans who find themselves in need of help, and it’s based on a lie.
We don’t need to dig too deeply to figure out why Ryan would tell such a story at CPAC – the conference intended to fire up the ultra-conservative base. He needs the support of his ground troops for a proposed 2014 House budget that cuts billions from federal programs, which fight childhood hunger. That includes a proposed budget cut of $137 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), including $63 billion specifically allocated for child nutrition.
It was a red meat speech from the leader of a political movement hell bent on ensuring nothing’s left on the bones for the poor and middle class in our country.
And for anyone who thinks these politicians will blink when it comes time to actually dump children from these nutrition programs, Ryan and his colleagues offer this: Try us.
Last year, their federal sequester eliminated 750,000 mothers and children from the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program that provides baby formula for infants and food for children. And the latest reauthorization of school meals only increased funding for school meals by 6 cents, which isn't enough to keep pace with rising food costs and new requirements. Even worse, there was no increase for meals given to children in Head Start and child care programs.
I don't need statistics to tell me how perverse Ryan’s politics of attacking children and their parents is. I know what it’s like to live on the margins in this country. As a single mother making far too little as a home care provider, I once relied on federal assistance programs to help feed my children.
As AFSCME members, we work with children every day – in schools, in day cares, in county and state programs. We see the effects of childhood hunger. We don't see children sent to school by parents who don't care about them. Unlike Ryan, we don't obsess about cutting government at all costs even if it means children going hungry. We figure out how to make government work for everybody, not just the wealthy few.
We see our own children if we’ve ever relied on help to feed them. If we are fortunate to never need such help, we see – and this would really be a stretch for politicians like Ryan – our neighbor’s children and act not out of our own self-interest, but out of the interest of the most vulnerable in our community.
We see that a program ensuring children have full bellies is in fact the heart and soul of America on full display. To see otherwise is perverted politics. To see otherwise is soulless.
May 7, 2014
You can now visit the AFSCME In Our Communities page and learn all about the many community activities of AFSCME Iowa Council 61 members. You can download the booklet, read individual profiles, and look at the large sampling of our members' community activities.
April 29, 2014
December 17, 2013
By a vote of 233 to 103, employees in the State of Iowa’s education bargaining unit voted to be represented by AFSCME Iowa Council 61. The results of the mail ballot election were announced by the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board today. It is the largest bargaining unit election won by AFSCME Iowa Council 61 since the 1990s.
Education unit employees include teachers in state institutions, librarians, workers who assist disabled Iowans in obtaining services and benefits, workers who assist school districts in designing curricula and improving special education and school lunch services, and many other employees.
The State of Iowa’s education bargaining unit dates back to the beginning of Iowa’s public employee collective bargaining law in the 1970s. However, until now, the unit had remained without union representation.
Education unit employees saw the benefits of having a seat at the bargaining table and having a voice in determining their pay, benefits, and working conditions. Several education unit employees contacted AFSCME Iowa Council 61 about organizing. Council 61 organizers and International organizers worked closely with these volunteer leaders to reach out to hundreds of state employees in person. These efforts made a difference vote by vote and signed green card by signed green card.
Today, the results of all that hard work are apparent. Please welcome our new sisters and brothers in the State of Iowa education unit!
We're Your Community. We're Your Neighbors.
AFSCME Iowa Council 61
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