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AFSCME Workers Rally To Avoid State Government Shutdown


Great news from AFSCME about their huge win in Washington State.

It took thousands of public employees rallying across Washington state at more than 100 locations over two days this May and June to urge state legislators to agree to a sensible budget and avert a shutdown of state services on July 1.

And they won.

Just before the stroke of midnight on June 30, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed the new, biennial operating budget that funded AFSCME Council 28 members’ first pay raises in seven years, and holds the line on health care costs.

The budget deal averted a shutdown of state services, including the closure of all state parks, the end of most community supervision of dangerous criminals released from prison and the temporary layoff of 26,000 state employees – about half of the general government workforce.

Council 28 members worked all session with a wide array of activities to pressure the Republicans controlling the state Senate to finally do the right thing. That included the “Unity Breaks” and “Unity Rallies” staged simultaneously on two different days in every corner of the state to stop the possible furlough of half of state agency workers if there was no budget by June 30.

In the end, the Republicans’ proposals to roll back many key collective bargaining rights – proposals written by a conservative think tank – all failed, thanks to the public heat Council 28 members generated.

“Through our member education, our member lobby program, our coordinated statewide in-district actions, our calls, our emails, our constant pressure on the Legislature, we narrowly avoided a state government shutdown,” said April Sims, Council 28’s legislative and political action field coordinator…


AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On Election Night Results

Working people woke up today with new faith in American politics.   Americans who want education, health care, safe jobs, and an economy of shared prosperity voted for working family candidates and policies that rebuild the middle class.  Last night’s results show that voters rejected the Tea Party extremism that led to the government shutdown and almost caused our country to default. You could see the impact of grassroots politics and the popularity of issues that make a difference in the lives of working people.

In Boston, voters elected a union member for mayor. In Virginia, a working family candidate was elected governor. In New York, voters elected a Democratic mayor for the first time in decades. In New Jersey, voters supported the state legislature and passed a groundbreaking minimum wage increase. And in SeaTac, voters are also on the verge of passing a groundbreaking minimum wage increase.

Elections matter. They can be a road to the future we want and need. At the ballot box, we can help build an economy that works for working people. This year has been important, but the elections in 2014 and 2016 will be more so. We will keep building an independent labor movement that builds power for working people in the workplace and in the political life. We’ll start at the local level, and we’ll build to the national level. Our role is not to build the power of a political party or a candidate. It’s to improve the lives of working families and strengthen our economy as well as our country, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

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