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In powerful testimonies, AFSCME members spotlight the ‘union difference’

Michael Morrison of OK Local 1180, Arminda Cordova of NM Council 18, and Ron Walsh of NY Council 82 introduced stories of union difference victories during the Convention.
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Belonging to a union makes a difference in your life on and off the job. From wages to health care to paid leave and more, being a member of a union puts us ahead of those who don’t have a union.

But what does the union difference really look like?

Well, in stirring video testimonials from Council 79 members in Florida and OCSEA members in Ohio, the union difference has meant better, stronger contracts. Introduced by Arminda Cordova, a tax investigator from New Mexico, delegates heard powerful stories of the ways in which the union difference can bring major contract victories.

“Working with a union contract makes a huge difference in every aspect of our lives,” said Cordova. “Our pay is higher, our benefits are better, we are more secure in our retirement, we are safer and better trained, and we know we have a process if something isn’t right.”

Michael Morrison, a crew leader for the water department in Tulsa, Oklahoma, talked about the challenges – and the harsh choices – that so many workers face when having to care for a loved one without paid leave.   

“Too many people face agonizing choices about whether to be at their loved one’s side when they’re needed most, or risk going without pay, or worse—getting fired—when their family needs them,” said Morrison. “But being in a union means having a voice to fight for the paid time off we deserve, so we can take care of our children, our parents, our loved ones...and ourselves.”

For Morrison and his fellow AFSCME Local 1180 members, the union difference yielded six weeks of paid leave. Members of Texas HOPE Local 123 and Servidores Públicos Unidos (SPUPR) (Council 95) in Puerto Rico also won important paid leave victories thanks to the union difference.

Meanwhile, Ron Walsh, president of New York State Law Enforcement Officers Union, Council 82, shared how the union difference made all the difference when it came to getting his contract over the finish line.

“Just this past May, Local 2951 – the corrections, law enforcement and security supervisors of Council 82 –  won a huge contract victory that had been seven years in the making,” said Walsh. “Our new, 7-year contract will bring raises each year, along with hazard, location and command pay increases. We also won retroactive pay, and we made sure no one who’d retired or was on sick leave was left out in the cold.”

Being a union member also leveled the playing field across job classifications for members of Local 1733 in Memphis, Tennessee, and in Dane County, Wisconsin.

All together, these were powerful reminders of what happens when you belong to one of the mightiest unions in the country: AFSCME.

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