AFSCME Council 25 Press Releases

October 6, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 1, 2020 

AFSCME Council 25 Urges State Legislature to Reconvene

Lansing, MI- Today, AFSCME Council 25 issued the following statement from President Lawrence A. Roehrig.

“Michigan families can’t afford political gamesmanship during a global pandemic. We urge the legislature to reconvene and address the critical issues keeping Michiganders up at night like extending unemployment benefits and making sure everyone has adequate PPE and safety protocols in public spaces. Let’s do the right thing for the hardworking Michigan families that deserve it, regardless of political affiliation.”

###

October 1, 2020

AFSCME Council 25 Supports Legislative Budget Deal

Lansing, MI- AFSCME Council 25 issued the following statement from President Lawrence A. Roehrig in response to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s signed budget agreement with the Legislature.

“In the midst of the worst public health and economic crisis in a century, AFSCME members are thankful to have a Governor that stands up for Michigan’s working families. We are pleased with the deal Governor Whitmer was able to reach with the legislature that avoids some of the most harmful, drastic cuts.

Between investment in additional resident care aides and maintenance at state psychiatric hospitals, hazard pay bonuses and premiums to frontline school support staff and healthcare workers, and so much more, we applaud the Governor’s efforts to recognize the commitment and dedication of AFSCME members and ALL working people throughout this pandemic.

Michigan’s recovery will be much stronger because of these efforts, and we look forward to our continued partnership to keep Michigan communities, schools, and hospitals running.”

###

September 3, 2020

JOINT STATEMENT OF AFSCME, SEIU AND UAW ON FILING OF A FEDERAL LAWSUIT OVER MCSC ANTI-WORKER ATTACKS

DETROIT - As the country celebrates contributions of workers this Labor Day weekend, a coalition of unions representing Michigan public employees is suing the Michigan Civil Service Commission to stop capricious new rules attacking state employees' first amendment right to support their union[1]  and violating established contract provisions.

“We are disappointed, but not surprised that the Michigan Civil Service Commission is choosing to blatantly ignore the carefully negotiated collective bargaining agreements they themselves authorized in favor of political attacks. This is part of a long-running campaign against working families in Michigan and across the country, pushed by billionaire-backed anti-worker groups.

“It’s clear that the MCSC rule is meant to create burdens for members to freely associate and be represented in the workplace. Now more than ever, these essential workers, who serve the citizens of Michigan without fail, even during the 2020 pandemic, deserve the right to be represented on crucial health and safety issues without hurdles. Dedicated state employees are testing for COVID in Department of Health labs, distributing unemployment benefits, providing healthcare, safeguarding our prison population, caring for veterans, and keeping our roads, food and water supply safe, among many other duties. Through their unions, they advocate for their families, for good jobs, and for quality public services in Michigan.

“The Commission’s new rule requiring annual reauthorization of dues deduction conflicts with our collective bargaining agreements, which the Commission previously approved, and therefore violates the Contracts Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Commission’s action also interferes with our members’ freedom of association under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Federal Constitution. These constitutional violations are particularly galling at a time when these hardworking public workers are coping with providing service to all Michiganders during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We ask that the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan uphold the Constitutional rights of the members of UAW, AFSCME and SEIU.”

UAW:

“At a time when we are stepping up to serve the public during the pandemic, the Michigan Civil Service Commission is making it harder on us to have representation. They seem to think it’s cute to play games with our union membership rights. I’d much rather they leave us to serve the public in this difficult time and have our union protected from political interference,” said Ed Mitchell, President of UAW Local 6000.

AFSCME:

Tammy Porter, President of AFSCME Local 261 (Grand Rapids Home for Veterans) said “The fact that the Civil Service Commission is fighting to change rules and take away more of our rights at work during a pandemic is unbelievable. I have gone to work every day at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, working hard to care for some of our nation’s most vulnerable heroes. I’ve seen so many of my co-workers going above and beyond these last 6 months, putting ourselves and our families in danger because of this disease. This is the thanks we get? We deserve better than this.”

SEIU:

"I've been working around 10 hours a day, six days a week at the Unemployment Insurance Agency, trying to process all the skyrocketing claims so struggling Michiganders can keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table," said Roland Whitelow, a member of SEIU Local 517M who has been an unemployment insurance agent in Detroit for 18 years. "State employees are dedicated to supporting the people of our state, and all we ask for in return is fair treatment. I have three sons in college, a daughter about to go to college, and all of them plus my wife are on my union-negotiated health insurance. Unions are about protecting working families and the American Dream so we can have a better future, and that's what we're fighting for in this case."

###

June 12, 2020

AFSCME COUNCIL 25 ISSUES PRE-PRIMARY ENDORSEMENTS

Today the AFSCME Council 25 Executive Board and Officers ratified the recommendations of the Area PEOPLE Committees and issued the following endorsements of candidates at the Federal, State, and Local levels.

“The Republican leadership in Lansing and D.C. has fought tooth and nail to make life harder for every day working people and rig the rules in favor of big businesses and CEOs” said Council 25 President Lawrence A. Roehrig. “Our endorsed candidates have bold visions so that anyone who works hard isn’t forced to choose between groceries or prescriptions, where children from every zip code can get a quality Public Education with Vocational Training, and where our Seniors don’t have to worry about constant attacks on their pensions and healthcare and can retire with dignity and respect and the pension checks and healthcare they earned.”

Lorna Davison, a longtime Wayne County employee and the elected statewide PEOPLE Chairperson shared Roehrig’s excitement. “These candidates sent in questionnaires and came before committees of AFSCME members across the state. They got to know our members and understand the issues we fight for every day. They showed that they understand the struggles that we face on the job and in our communities. We’re excited to help send these candidates to Lansing and Washington D.C. so we can fight together for good jobs and strong communities.”

Below is the list of endorsed candidates:

https://www.miafscme.org/2020-endorsements

###

June 6, 2020

Michigan AFSCME Council 25 Blasts Proposed Civil Service Commission Rule Attacking Essential Workers

Lansing, MI- AFSCME Council 25 President Lawrence A. Roehrig and Secretary-Treasurer Robyn C. Price issued the following statement:

"Nothing surprises us anymore coming from the architects of Right to Work, but the Civil Service Commission's new proposed rule is a slap in the face to the frontline essential workers that have kept our state running during this Global Pandemic. During a public health and economic crisis, we need policies that PROTECT workers and give them MORE rights on the job, not policies that attack them and weaken their voice at work. It's time for them to start showing that they actually value the frontline workers in our hospitals, prisons, road crews, unemployment and other state agencies, and not just pushing their Snyder-holdover partisan political agenda. We are going to fight this, and we hope the Civil Service Commission rejects this blatantly anti-worker proposal."

 ###

April 24, 2020

AFSCME Council 25 Applauds Governor Whitmer’s Extension of Stay at Home Order to Keep Michiganders Safe 

Lansing, MI- Michigan AFSCME Council 25 released the following statement applauding Governor Whitmer’s Stay at Home order extension:

“Today, Governor Whitmer continued to put the health and safety of all Michigan residents first,” said AFSCME Council 25 President Lawrence A. Roehrig. “AFSCME members are fighting on the frontlines against this virus in our hospitals, prisons and jails, schools, in law enforcement, and in cities, townships, and counties across Michigan. The data is not conclusive enough and we have not conducted enough testing to truly understand the threat these brave men and women face. We cannot jeopardize the health and safety of essential service workers in a rush to appease corporate interests. In the face of countless insults and threats, the Governor has shown incredible resolve, compassion, and leadership. Her decision today shows it is clear that keeping Michigan residents safe remains her top priority and we are grateful.”

Kelly Indish, a Registered Nurse at McLaren Flint Hospital and President of AFSCME Local 875, along with Maggie Schaefer, a fellow RN and Chief Steward for AFSCME Local 875, echoed this sentiment.

“Governor Whitmer made the right call. Extending the Stay at Home order keeps hospital workers protected and will save more lives. Even with our positive case numbers starting to level out, Michigan still ranks 7th in cases nationwide. Before these orders are lifted, we must ensure there is adequate access to testing for anyone who may be sick, and access to enough PPEs for hospital workers and all other frontline, essential workers to keep everyone safe if cases do spike again. We thank the Governor for putting the safety of working people and our families first.”  

###

March 13, 2020

AFSCME Council 25 President Lawrence A. Roehrig statement on Coronavirus:

AFSCME Council 25 is taking the Coronavirus outbreak very seriously. The health and welfare of our members will ALWAYS come first.

Governor Whitmer has ordered the closure of all K-12 schools in Michigan for the next 3 weeks in order to curb the spread of this virus. We are pleased that the Governor shares our values and continues to put the Health and Safety of our children and school employees first.

The school closings bring concerns that it may cause personal and financial hardship to hourly school support staff. Our Governor continues to express support for continuing to pay hourly employees during this crisis. This is a matter of fairness to the hardworking women and men who keep our Schools clean, safe, and orderly.

AFSCME Council 25 is continuing to work alongside AFT Michigan, the Michigan Education Association, the Michigan Association of School Boards, and Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators, and legislative Democrats to craft legislation that guarantees hourly employees do not go without pay during the shutdown.

We will continue to support these efforts and continue our fight for hardworking AFSCME members across Michigan.

###

January 8, 2020

AFSCME Council 25 President Lawrence A. Roehrig Statement on Cynthia Neeley’s Victory in HD34 Special Election

Flint, MI- Today, AFSCME Council 25 President Lawrence A. Roehrig released the following statement on Cynthia Neeley’s victory in the special primary election for the State House seat vacated by Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley.

“On behalf of AFSCME members in Flint and around Michigan, we would like to congratulate Cynthia Neeley on her hard-earned victory. We are confident she will be another strong Democrat and champion for the people of Flint. We look forward to working with her in our shared fight for good jobs, clean water, quality infrastructure, and strong communities. Our efforts together will be critical to energize voters in Flint to win elections up and down the ticket in 2020 for pro-worker candidates.

###

July 30, 2019

AFSCME Applauds Decision to Keep the Caro Center Hospital in Operation, Expresses Concern Over Decrease in Total Beds

Lansing, MI- AFSCME Council 25 issued the following statement today from President Lawrence A. Roehrig in response to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s announcement that the State of Michigan will keep the Caro Center Hospital in operation.  

“AFSCME Council 25 is thrilled with the decision to keep the Caro Center hospital in operation. We are so proud of our members at the Caro Center and across the State who mobilized their communities to build a strong coalition in support of the Caro Center project and the patients they care for. They showed what it means to be AFSCME STRONG by standing up for what was right and by staying committed to one another in the face of extraordinary adversity.

While we are thrilled the hospital will remain operational, we remain concerned by the proposed decrease in beds at the facility. When you elect kind-hearted and compassionate leaders, you don’t always get everything you want, but you know they are looking out for working people. We thank the Governor for taking added time and effort to include AFSCME members in the process which has been totally lacking in previous administrations.

We will NEVER QUIT in this continued fight for Caro patients and the hardworking staff who provide the highest quality patient care. We will fight for fairness for everyone in the Caro Center community and ensure that this is a TRUE partnership between the State and workers to improve the quality of mental health care in Michigan. This is a partnership not to be taken lightly, and AFSCME members will continue our vigilance in the legislative and budgetary process and will be on the front lines of this fight if necessary.”

Matt Campbell, President of AFSCME Local 831 at the Caro Center, shared the same sentiment. “I want to thank the members of AFSCME Local 831 for standing together. We would not have achieved this positive outcome without everyone working together.”

###

March 5, 2019

AFSCME Applauds Governor Whitmer’s Proposed Budget, Pension Tax Repeal 

Lansing, MI- AFSCME Council 25 issued the following statement from President Lawrence A. Roehrig in response to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s budget proposal earlier today.

“AFSCME members across the state are thankful to finally have a Governor who will stand up for working families. For decades, our state has neglected to invest in infrastructure, education, and our communities. We have all been paying the price, but this budget shows that the buck stops with Governor Whitmer. She is living up to her campaign promises by repealing the pension tax without gutting funding for our communities, Fixing the Damn Roads, funding our children’s education and training at all levels, and making sure corporations pay their fair share. These important and bold steps will make Michigan a better place to live, work, and play for working families.”

###

AFSCME Council 25 Tabs Tim Greimel as Legislative Director

Lansing, MI- Today, AFSCME Council 25 announced the hire of former House Democratic leader Tim Greimel as their new Legislative Director, replacing longtime lobbyist Nick Ciaramitaro.

Greimel comes to AFSCME after serving in the state legislature since 2012, with four of those years as Minority Leader and top Democrat in the House. Prior to joining the legislature, he served on the Oakland County Commission and as an attorney with the Miller Cohen law firm handling labor and employment cases. He worked closely with AFSCME throughout the challenges to the emergency manager law.

“Nick Ciaramitaro is leaving some big shoes to fill, but we were relentlessly committed to finding the best person for the job. We undoubtedly have that in Tim Greimel,” said AFSCME Council 25 President Lawrence A. Roehrig. “Tim brings decades of knowledge and experience as a leader working with the legislature and standing up for Michigan’s working families and children. He will be a tremendous asset for our members and the entire labor movement.”

###

AFSCME Council 25 Endorses Lavora Barnes for MDP Chair 

Lansing, MI- Today, AFSCME Council 25 announced that their Executive Board unanimously voted to endorse Lavora Barnes for Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party following a unanimous recommendation from Area PEOPLE committee chairs.

“Lavora has a proven track record of getting positive results for Michigan’s working families,” said Council 25 President Lawrence A. Roehrig. “Her leadership of the ONE campaign brought us historic victories in 2018 and will put us in the best position to sweep the state again in 2020. Lavora will put Michigan’s working families first, and there is nobody better prepared than her to take on this challenge.”

###

AFSCME Council 25 President Lawrence A. Roehrig Statement on Attempts to Amend One Fair Wage and Paid Sick Leave Proposals

“AFSCME members across Michigan stand in solidarity with those rallying at the Capitol today for living wages and paid time off when we fall ill. We must put a stop to Lansing Republicans’ unconstitutional ‘adopt and amend’ strategy that would gut the paid sick leave and minimum wage initiatives. Legislators cannot circumvent the will of the hundreds of thousands of working Michiganders who signed petitions to put these initiatives on the ballot.

Michigan voters showed this year at the ballot box that they are sick and tired of these rotten tactics. We want elected officials that are ready to put working people ahead of wealthy corporate interests. AFSCME stands with working people across Michigan in support of the full adoption of these proposals as intended by Michigan voters.”

###

 

AFSCME JOINS MICHIGAN NURSES ASSOCIATION IN CALL FOR DICKINSON COUNTY HEALTH SYSTEM CEO TO RESIGN

Iron Mountain, MI- Today, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME, AFL-CIO) joined the Michigan Nurses in their call for CEO John Schon to resign his position as hospital CEO and administrator for the Dickinson County Healthcare System.

AFSCME Local 1176 represents over 300 workers at Dickinson County Hospital including nurse aides, LPNs, laundry aides, cooks, security guards, and other administrative professionals and healthcare providers.

Lawrence A. Roehrig, President of AFSCME Council 25 representing all AFSCME workers in Michigan, called Schon’s salary and benefit package and total disregard for the decades of AFSCME member professional service and personal sacrifice to keep the hospital up and running “outrageous” in the face of the hospital’s potential bankruptcy.

“John Schon is definitely living the good life, raking in nearly $300,000 a year in salary plus tens of thousands of dollars in benefits, while the people doing the work and putting in long hours are being left empty handed,” said Roehrig. “AFSCME members want the best for the hospital, our patients, their families, and the entire community, while Schon has shown more interest in getting his Country Club membership paid for! It’s time that the Board ousts Schon and puts a committed community leader in charge that respects workers and works as a Team with AFSCME and the Michigan Nurses Association to provide quality patient care.”

###

Statement from AFSCME Council 25 President Lawrence A. Roehrig on Anti-Worker Janus Decision

Lansing, MI- AFSCME Council 25 released the following statement today from President Lawrence A. Roehrig on the Supreme Court ruling against working people in Janus v. AFSCME.

“The Supreme Court issued a decision today that further rigs the rules of the economy against working families and in favor of the big-moneyed special interests that are tearing apart the middle class. However, no court case can stop our movement.

Corporate interests and the right-wing media will use this case to predict the death of unions the same way they did after they passed Right to Work (for less) here in Michigan. Yet Michigan unions continue to add tens of thousands of new members every year.

Unions sustain our families and make our communities stronger. AFSCME members and ALL working people across Michigan will stick together and organize against any attempt to divide and weaken us. We’ll remember this when we go to the polls in November.”

###

AFSCME Council 25 President Lawrence A. Roehrig Statement on Prison Food Service Insourcing

“AFSCME Council 25 applauds the decision of the State to bring prison food service back in-house and end the failed experiment of funneling tax dollars to private, for-profit companies that have performed subpar work and put prison workers in danger.

Since 2013, the decision to outsource these jobs has led to major issues including well reported incidents of maggots in food, smuggling of drugs and contraband by low-paid kitchen employees, and inappropriate sexual relationships between employees and prisoners.

Our hard-earned tax dollars need to be spent on programs and companies that have real public oversight and provide real value, not ones trying to save a nickel while endangering the safety and well-being of prison workers and sending working families on a race to the bottom with longer hours and lower pay.

We’re thrilled to bring over 350 good paying AFSCME jobs back into prisons where we know workers will be well trained and fighting for adequate staffing levels, fair classifications, and wages you can raise a family on to make sure everyone is safe on the job and can go home to their families at night.”

###

City of Ann Arbor AFSCME Workers Notch Big Anti-Outsourcing Victory 

City of Ann Arbor employees represented by AFSCME Local 369 scored a huge victory this week as the City Council, by a 7-4 vote, passed a resolution opposing the outsourcing of trash collection to a private, for-profit company.

“The City of Ann Arbor AFSCME workers showed us the true definition of solidarity and what being union is all about” said AFSCME Council 25 President Lawrence A. Roehrig. “When our jobs came under attack, we banded together to show that we wouldn’t stand for it. AFSCME members across America know that outsourcing always leads to disaster. There is a decline in the quality of services and we never see the cost savings that outside companies always promise. We are all proud of Local 369 members in their success in stopping outsourcing in their community.

President Roehrig issued a special thank you to councilmembers Jack Eaton, Anne Bannister, Sumi Kailasapathy, Zachary Ackerman, Julie Grand, Graydon Krapohl, and Chuck Warpehoski who voted in favor of the resolution to prevent outsourcing.

Mayor Christopher Taylor along with councilmembers Kirk Westphal, Chip Smith, and Jane Lumm were in favor of moving forward with the option to outsource trash pickup.

AFSCME Local 369 President Curtis Morris thanked the Huron Valley AFL-CIO and all the rank and file members who contacted the councilmembers before the meeting and spoke out against outsourcing during the council meeting.

“When the elected officials saw the sea of AFSCME green, they knew AFSCME meant business” said Morris. “Our hardworking members pick up trash, fix roads, repair water mains, trim trees, and do hundreds of things every day to keep Ann Arbor running. We stood up and spoke out about the dangers of outsourcing our jobs to a company that only cared about profit. No outside company cares about Ann Arbor the way our AFSCME members do. We showed what it’s like to be AFSCME strong and what can happen when we stick together and NEVER QUIT!

###

AFSCME Council 25 Endorses Gretchen Whitmer for Governor

Southfield, MI- This morning, AFSCME Council 25, a labor union representing 50,000 active and retired public-sector employees, announced their endorsement of Democratic candidate Gretchen Whitmer in her bid to be Michigan’s next Governor.

“We need a Governor that respects public workers and their families, and we have that with Gretchen Whitmer,” said President Lawrence A. Roehrig. “She has proven time and time again that she will tirelessly fight every day for us in the face of all adversity. We need her voice and her work ethic as Governor to reverse the damage done to the middle class in Michigan.”

Lorna Davison, AFSCME’s statewide PEOPLE chair, echoed the sentiments of President Roehrig. “This year’s election is so important for our union and public-sector workers across the state. Gretchen has stood with us every step of the way as a legislator, and we are proud to stand with her in this election.”

Whitmer addressed AFSCME’s PEOPLE convention this morning where over 100 activists gathered to discuss important legislative and political issues facing working families in 2018. "I'm honored to partner with AFSCME Council 25 because for too long, Michigan's public-sector workers haven't had a governor who’s in their corner fighting for their wages, their retirement benefits, standing up to privatization, and protecting their right to collective bargaining," said Whitmer. "When we show up for one another's fights, we win, and I’m proud to have them in my corner. I'm ready to work with anyone who wants to solve problems, and I'll take on anyone who stands in the way of treating workers with the respect they deserve so they can support their families and retire with dignity.”

“Gretchen’s message and track record have really resonated with our members,” said President Roehrig. “Her opposition to Right to Work and work in expanding access to healthcare for Michigan workers is exactly what we need. We’re thrilled to support her in the August 7th primary and the general election on November 6th”.

###

AFSCME Applauds State Decision to End Prison Food Service Privatization 

LANSING- Governor Rick Snyder announced yesterday during his final budget presentation that the state will not be extending the contact of Trinity Food Services to provide privatized food services in prisons across the state. The state outsourced this program in late 2013 and has been laden with issues ever since, including well reported incidents of maggots in food, smuggling by kitchen employees, and inappropriate relationships between privatized employees and prisoners.

“We’re excited to bring over 350 good paying state jobs back into prison kitchens where we know workers will be well trained and fighting for adequate staffing levels that ensure everyone is safe on the job,” said AFSCME Council 25 President Lawrence Roehrig. “This is yet another example of an attempt to privatize public services resulting in unmitigated failure. Our hard-earned taxed dollars need to be spent on programs and companies that have real public oversight and provide real value, not ones just trying to save a nickel while endangering the safety and well-being of prison workers and sending working families on a race to the bottom with longer hours and lower pay.”

###

State Supreme Court Rules Unanimously in Favor of School Employees in 3% Wage Theft Case

Public school employees notched a long-deserved victory today as the Michigan State Supreme Court ruled unanimously in their favor following years of illegal wage deductions from the State of Michigan after the passage of Public Act 75 in 2010.

From 2010 to 2012, anti-worker politicians required school districts to withhold 3% of employee’s wages for future health care benefits that they were not guaranteed to receive.

“After several lower court rulings in favor of working people, and years of appeals and hundreds of thousands of wasted taxpayer dollars for legal fees accrued by Governor Snyder and Bill Schuette, working people can finally feel some justice,” said AFSCME Council 25 President Lawrence Roehrig. Roehrig stated that this victory was due in large part to a coalition between AFSCME, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Michigan Education Association, along with the excellent legal counsel from attorney Robert Fetter of the Miller Cohen general counsel firm.

“Attacks on school employees have been a running theme under Snyder and Schuette, and we’re glad that the Supreme Court has finally said that enough is enough. Today we showed them the power and value of working people joining together to stand up for themselves in a union and we will continue fighting to ensure that the back wages are disbursed immediately. This proves that together we are stronger because AFSCME never quits.”

###