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The AFL-CIO Community Services Program, a national partnership between the United Way and the AFL-CIO, exists to provide resources, services and assistance to union workers and their families during times of hardship. “In Minnesota, there are AFL-CIO United Way partnership programs based out of Duluth, Minneapolis and St. Paul,” Rachel Loeffler-Kemp explains. The focus of the program, she says, is supporting working families. “We know that if we can help support them and the issues they face, our whole community is stronger.”
Receiving the MCA award has reinvigorated Gundgovi’s commitment to serving his parolees and the public. He says it’s an honor to be acknowledged, but the real reward is knowing he’s helping rehabilitate parolees to better themselves and strengthen our communities, and knowing his AFSCME colleagues have his back and share his values.
As AFSCME members, we’re committed to serving the public and giving back. This holiday season, AFSCME Locals around the state lived our union values by taking part in a variety of community giving programs. It’s just one more way we’re walking our talk: helping our neighbors, lifting up working families and strengthening the communities where we work and live.
November’s midterm was, as we’ve all heard, one of the most important elections of our lifetimes. Our rights, our freedoms, our health, safety, security and dignity were all on the line. Working Minnesotans didn’t just get the message – we shouted it from the rooftops. Through thousands of conversations AFSCME members mobilized voters to elect candidates who share our union values.

This summer, I joined thousands of union members at a rally in Philadelphia to speak out against the Trump administration’s family separation policy. I was there to represent our union’s vision and values. We reject an immigration policy based on fear and cruelty. We embrace an immigration policy based on our common humanity, one that treats everyone with decency and dignity.

The best spokespeople for anyone running for elected office are everyday Americans spreading the word to their neighbors, co-workers, friends and relatives. That’s why public service workers who are AFSCME members came out this year across the nation to help elect candidates who support working families.

And we won big.

We won at every level of government and in almost every state. AFSCME members made our voices heard, helping our partners in For Our Future knock on 7.5 million doors and hold 925,000 conversations in targeted states.

Better wages. Check. Better working conditions. Check. And, thanks to unions, we now know there is also a union difference for workers who have access to critical benefits like paid parental leave.

According to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 17 percent of all U.S. workers have access to paid family leave.  

At a time when our country needs real investments in infrastructure, education and public services, congressional leaders are doubling down on tax cuts for the rich.

It was 10 years ago this month that the 2008 financial crisis kicked into high gear. When storied Wall Street bank Lehman Brothers shut down, bankers walking out of the building carrying cardboard boxes of their possessions made the perfect image for TV cameras.

No politician running for office today would openly advocate for more wealth inequality in our country, where the richest 1 percent of the population owns 40 percent of the wealth. Even candidate Donald Trump in 2016 promised to stand up for the “forgotten men and women of our country,” who feel betrayed by a rigged economic system that benefits a small minority at their expense. Yet every single day, President Trump and congressional leaders seem determined to do more to increase wealth inequality than to alleviate it; do more for corporations and the wealthy than for single parents working two or three jobs to make ends meet.

Like others around the world, I mourned the death last week of Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Soul set a new standard for enduring classic songs with both artistic and political impact, like her mega-hit “Respect,” which became an anthem for both the civil rights and women’s movements.

And that song is on my mind as we embark on a week of action dedicated to shining light on the stakes for women in the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.