AFSCME 2014—Starring UNAC/UHCP
UNAC/UHCP Officers and delegates had a few starring roles to play at this year’s AFSCME convention in Chicago. Our President, Ken Deitz, RN, and Executive Vice President, Denise Duncan, RN, proposed a resolution calling for AFSCME to work on safe staffing nationally, through legislation like California’s Safe Staffing law, as well as through contract language—not just for RNs, but an appropriate mix of safe staffing that includes CNAs and other categories of health care workers. Deitz introduced the resolution to the full convention, which voted yes to pass it.
UNAC/UHCP received an award for our aggressive participation in the PEOPLE political action program, which was accepted on our behalf by Tim Uliasz, RN, and member of our Board of Directors. Our Treasurer Jettie Deden-Castillo, NP, and Pam Brodersen, NP, from Kaiser Downey, addressed the convention in support of a resolution reaffirming AFSCME’s commitment to the PEOPLE program.
AFSCME had a goal of organizing 50,000 new members this year, by the convention date. They nearly doubled it, reaching 92,155, with the help of Volunteer Member Organizers (VMOs), whose work was recognized. Three members of UTSC, our Therapists’ affiliate—Debra Sung, PT; Daniel Eriksson, PT, and Terri Chavez, OT—were honored among this group. Though not delegates, they were special guests of our delegation. Chavez spoke to the convention about her experience helping to organize the Therapists, which led to convention delegates flooding into the streets of Chicago to support 12,000 of the city’s taxi cab drivers who are trying to win union recognition from the city.
Other convention highlights included an address from President Obama by video, as well as speeches from Mary Burke, candidate for Governor of Wisconsin who seeks to unseat Scott Walker, the Republican governor who triggered the occupation of the state capitol in 2011, joined by a delegation of UNAC/UHCP members, with his anti-union policies. U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez also addressed the convention. The next AFSCME convention, in 2016, will be held a little closer to home, in Las Vegas.