This Is Your Council and Your Union

Every quarter, the Council 57 president will share an inspiring message with members and give an update on what's happening in our union. This is his message for July.

I first want to take the opportunity to introduce myself to those whom I haven’t had the opportunity to meet personally.

My name is Abdul Johnson and I am the recently elected President of AFSCME Council 57. I am an employee of the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation and I serve as a chaplain at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla. 

My exposure to the labor movement started in the late 80s when my mother went back to school to become a paralegal and then landed a job with the late labor leader and founder of the United Farm Workers, Cesar Chavez.

Hearing her come home and talk about the plight of workers and her fight against wealthy land owners to secure a contract inspired me to one day fight that same fight. I am proud I have this opportunity to serve others as my mother did in organizing unorganized workers and fighting to gain and defend the best possible working standards through contracts and legislation.

I want to take this opportunity to bring you all up to speed on some of our most recent efforts to increase transparency and proximity to our locals. At the June 21 Executive Board meeting, we voted unanimously to create a Presidents Council. This is the first time such a committee has ever been created within the council and the goal is to provide an opportunity for local presidents to address concerns and opportunities directly with council management. There will also be training provided to all presidents at each meeting. 

This is just the start of our robust agenda to create more training opportunities for locals and more access to resources the council provides.

All of this could not be done without help from our council staff. In recognition of that, Interim Director Charles Allen has officially back filled all Business Agent vacancies with a start date of July 1, 2019. The issue of chronic vacancies has been addressed and we are committed to putting our resources into those whom provide direct representation to our membership. 

I would however be remised if I didn't mention the departure of two of our management staff, Chad Johnson and Tanya Mahn. Their last day was on July 1, 2019, and we wish them the best in their future endeavors. Additionally, former Executive Director Michael Seville resigned in March of this year.  

With this change in management comes opportunities to reshape the council financially, organizationally, and with a focus on a new direction in serving the needs of our membership. 

I invite all of you to be a part of this new direction. Know that we are setting up a new council culture that is inviting and inclusive. Change promotes growth and we can not grow without you!

Our next council delegate meeting will be on July 27, and I hope to see all the delegates attend. This is your council and your union! Come have your voice be heard and be counted amongst those that Rise Up in support of California working families!