Monday, March 22, 2010

Union Prayer

Addie Wyatt, former officer of the United Food and Commercial Workers, used to start a meeting with this union prayer.

"Each of us is a link in this great union chain that stretches around the world. I will try every day to keep my link, united, active and strong."

Addie L. Wyatt (1924-)

Labor leader, civil rights pioneer, pastor

The first female board member of the United Packinghouse Food and Alliance Workers Union, Addie L. Wyatt was elected vice president of Local 56 in 1953. During her 30-year career as a labor leader Wyatt fought for equality as a campaigner for women's rights in the workplace and as an active protester alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the early 1960s. She served as a member of President John F. Kennedy's Commission on the Status of Women and in 1976 became the first black woman labor leader of an international union when she was elected international vice president of the newly merged United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. A former Time magazine woman of the year (1975), Wyatt was inducted to the Civil Rights Walk of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2005.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Council Insults City Employees

The Fayetteville Civil Service Commission is responsible for examining and establishing eligibility lists for appointments and promotions within the Police and Fire Departments and acting upon appeals and disciplinary action taken by the Police and Fire Chiefs and the Mayor. To say it is unfriendly to the case of workers is an understatement. Not once in the last nine years has the Commission ever sided with an employee in an appeal.

Part of the problem is that the Commission has long been loaded up with Chamber of Commerce members who always side with management against city workers. For example, Fred Vorsanger, an employee of the Chamber is serving a term that will run through 2014. That's no wonder, really, because the official application for all City boards, commission, and committees asks whether the applicant heard about the opening from the Chamber of Commerce, so they can easily spot the business insiders.

Another serious problem is that the Secretary of the Board, William Brown, is the father of Police Captain William "Casey" Brown, whose disciplinary decisions against officers are subject to appeal to his father. How fair is that? None of his fellow Commissioners ever saw any conflict or raised the issue. None of them are known for showing much concern for employees or giving them a fair hearing.

Last night, the City Council nominated and unanimously approved, without debate, the appointment of Buddy Chadick, a distinguished citizen and a partner in the Bassett Law Firm. He has long experience in representing Tyson Foods and other corporations in fighting and appealing to deny Workers Compensation claims of injured workers; there is no record that he has ever represented an injured worker seeking medical expenses or any employee in an employment discrimination case. Mr. Chadick is a fine fellow, but he is an absolutely awful appointment to the Civil Service Commission that is supposed to be impartial and give employees a fair shake.

Chadick's appointment to a term that will run until 2016 is an insult to city employees and a poor reflection of the due diligence and concern for fairness by the members of the City Council.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Time for Action on Health Care Reform

This is the week we've been waiting for — the week when members of the House of Representatives choose to stand with us or the insurance companies.

The insurance industry operatives and Republican talking heads you see on cable TV say we need to start over and spend another year — or another decade — before we pass reform. They twist the facts to say that the public opposes reform, but what the public really opposes are attempts to water down or kill reform to keep the insurance companies happy.

AFSCME members like you are fighting the good fight and have been a critical voice for the past year in the health insurance reform debate. Together, we've made literally tens of thousands of phone calls and sent even more emails to our senators and representatives. The insurance industry has deep pockets and is doing all it can to kill reform — but we won't let them win. This is our moment.

The bill that the House will soon vote on would end the ability of insurance companies to deny coverage to those who have pre-existing conditions — or deny coverage when you get sick. It would require insurance companies to pay for preventive care. It would also allow parents to keep their unemployed children on their policies until they turn 26. And it would end taxpayer funded subsidies to Big Insurance.

The historic nature of this moment cannot be overstated. The opportunity to end insurance company abuses is a moment for which we have worked long and hard. It is a vote that will affect our children, and their children. Please take a moment now to contact your member of Congress. Tell him/her the time has come to stand up to the insurance companies. The time has come to pass health care reform.

Please go to: paign/stand_up_for_reform

Thanks to you, when the history books are written on this struggle, they will read: AFSCME was there.

In solidarity,

Gerald W. McEntee
International President