District Council 57

Council 57 Wins Award for Having the Most MVPs in 2015

Council 57 took home an award for the tireless work our members did last year to recruit the most PEOPLE MVPs in the state—just one of the many highlights from the recent AFSCME California PEOPLE Convention.

Members signed up 772 new PEOPLE MVPs in 2015 as part of our AFSCME Strong campaign. That total includes 535 people who are contributing to PEOPLE through a portion of their paychecks and 237 people who are contributing in other ways. Local 101 from the greater San Jose area received special recognition for having enrolled the most members into PEOPLE at the MVP level.

PEOPLE (Public Employees Organized to Promote Legislative Equality) is our political action program to fight anti-union initiatives and promote candidates who will fight for the middle class. Union dues cannot be used for this purpose, so we rely on voluntary payroll deductions through PEOPLE.

“Our activists took the threat from the Friedrichs case very seriously and embraced the AFSCME Strong training, which is about returning to basic grassroots organizing,” Cynthia McCabe, Council 57 President, said about the award. “I’m very proud of our activists and the members who are willing to chip in.”

Council 57 Organizing Director John Tucker reported that in 2015, out of the 5,000 members reached through the AFSCME Strong program, we were able to get 3,158 new members to the join the union.

What was most rewarding, Tucker said, was that 1,931 new employees signed up as members and 1,227 fee-payers converted to members.

The convention included a progress report on the Union’s AFSCME Strong campaign, insightful workshops on the retirement security and the “dark money” behind the attacks on working families, as well as powerful speeches from AFSCME President Lee Saunders and labor legend Maria Elena Durazo.

Our brothers and sisters who attended the workshops especially took notice when they learned more about the insidious plans to try to dismantle public sector unions.

Jane Carter, a labor economist for AFSCME, went beyond just the threat that has been caused by the Friedrichs U.S. Supreme Court case and connected the dots between some of the elusive right-wing organizations that exist and the hundreds of millions of dollars that are being pumped into multipronged attacks on the middle class.

Their motive, Carter concluded, is simply greed disguised as progress. Carter then showed a video of a TV news station in Georgia that had the guts to show how ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), one of the many organizations attacking working families, pays for secret junkets away from the Capitol where politicians and corporations make decisions about law and public policy as equal partners.

McCabe said those details were eye-opening.

“It shows you where the big money comes from and where it goes,” she said. “There are way bigger players than just the Koch brothers.”

Although the attacks on us are very real and seem never-ending, our brothers and sisters in no way left the convention feeling defeated—only stronger.

Durazo, the former Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, gave us just the words we needed to hear about how to brace ourselves against the threats to working people.

Although there may be wealthy people who want to do away with our right to organize in the workplace, she said, we have power and purpose as a union—and we can’t be afraid to use those tools.

Saunders gave us the equivalent of a Sunday morning sermon, reminding the union that we can’t rest on our laurels just because we live in a so-called progressive state. He used the new AFSCME slogan “Never Quit” to encourage all members to go into battle knowing our winning record.

“When AFSCME fights, AFSCME wins,” Saunders said. “And that is why AFSCME will never quit.”

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