Public Employee Advocate

Spring 2015

Feature Story
Getting to Higher Ground

Public Employees ban together as attacks heat up.

Attacks on Wisconsin public employees continue to make national headlines, but the threats aren’t limited to this state alone. From Maryland to Kansas, AFT members and their unions are fighting a full slate of legislation and executive actions that would make a bad situation even worse for the workforce: efforts to erode negotiated pay increases, to institute  reckless tax cuts that shortchange vital public work, and to silence public employees’ ability to speak out against these and other dangers to good government.

It’s one of the most mean-spirited environments that public employees have faced in years, and unions aren’t taking it lying down. Across the country, members and activists are rising to the challenge and taking their case directly to lawmakers, the courts and the community.

“Governors and state policymakers have a clear choice,” AFT President Randi Weingarten recently wrote. “Push ideological policies to break the backs of unions, further disempower workers, have their deficit grow, have workers’ wages sink, and have their state ranked at the bottom for business and economic climate; [or] strengthen unions and workers’ rights, invest in public education and infrastructure, and create more good jobs.”

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Also in this issue:

  • Colorado training offers new skills,
 boost to local campaign for respect

    More than 25 AFT members and staff gathered in Denver in February for a week of intensive training in member organizing and mobilization conducted by the AFT Public Employees division. As part of the program, the participants—who came from public employee affiliates around the country—helped...

  • Where We Stand

    Unions strengthen communities and economies Randi Weingarten, AFT President

    “You have to understand that the soul of your community is at stake.”

    That’s what Stephanie Kellnhauser, an AFT member in Wisconsin, says. In March, Gov. Scott Walker broke a campaign promise and made Wisconsin the 25th so-called right-to-work state. And indeed, both the soul of her...

  • Getting to Higher Ground

    Public employees band together as attacks heat up.

    Attacks on Wisconsin public employees continue to make national headlines, but the threats aren’t limited to this state alone. From Maryland to Kansas, AFT members and their unions are fighting a full slate of legislation and executive actions that would make a bad situation even worse for the...

  • ‘Our budget is cut
 to the bone’

    Public employees in Kansas are facing a serious crisis when it comes to the state budget and state economy. Gov. Sam Brownback and his allies in the Legislature have crafted bills that gut vital services and compromise working conditions for employees. Juanita Beck,  who has been a state...

  • In The News

    CLINTON INITIATIVE PRAISES UNION PENSION INVESTMENTS  AFT President Randi Weingarten had a chance to brag a little about the positive impact that union pension fund investments are having on rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure. She also discussed the AFT’s work in areas such...

  • Fighting fast track

    AFT leaders sign letter opposing ‘fast-track’ trade deals

    AFT PRESIDENT Randi Weingarten and Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson are among the leaders of 60 unions, from across the economic spectrum, who signed a letter to Congress expressing opposition to fast-track authority, which is used to advance unfair trade deals.

    “Fast-track trade deals...