I am a steward for the labor union AFSCME Local 2960, representing Unit III employees of the City of Phoenix.
Being a union member and a union activist reminds me constantly about the value in working together as a team toward a common goal or set of goals. My union membership places me very much in the middle of several groups with varying sizes.
For the Phoenix Fire Department Regional Dispatch Center, I represent the seventy or so union members during our negotiations our supervisors and chiefs. The topics covered in these talks range from what color our shirts are going to be to the ways in which we can use our vacation time. One of the topics I am most passionate about however, is the implementation of a ten hour workday. I sit on the scheduling and staffing committees and am constantly studying ways to create innovative work schedules for our employees.
On a little bit of a larger scale, I also have helped our union office establish a presence among social media channels. I’ve helped expand our mailing list by 300% within the last year by simply placing the emphasis on the web and email as our primary methods of communication. There is still no substitute for a good old-fashioned handshake and conversation, and negotiations are undoubtedly still handled this way. But with the Unit III employees occupying offices that stretch from one side of the city of Phoenix to the other, sometimes it becomes necessary for us to communicate in a way that has a larger reach.
That larger reach also has other uses as well. There is a tremendous amount of backlash that is becoming more prevalent among the tax paying public that suggests that government workers are overcompensated in both pay and benefits. (We are not, by the way.) Some politicians are seizing upon this mistaken sentiment to score a quick political point or two. Some other more ambitious political types are trying to do everything in their power to prevent unions from organizing together. Providing some technical know-how and encouragement to the leaders within our union has given us a much bigger voice in the debate.
On a national scale, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Workers (AFSCME) is the nation’s largest and fastest growing public services employees union with more than 1.6 million active and retired members. AFSCME’s members provide the vital services that make America happen. Our union is comprised of nurses, corrections officers, child care providers, EMTs, sanitation workers, dispatchers and more. With members in hundreds of different occupations, AFSCME advocates for fairness in the workplace, excellence in public services and prosperity and opportunity for all working families.