Some of the nation’s largest cultural institutions accepted more than $1.6 billion in federal help to weather the coronavirus pandemic, but continued to let go of workers – even though the assistance was meant to shore up payrolls and keep workers on the job, according to a report released by AFSCME Cultural Workers United.

When Fran Krugen’s late husband was first diagnosed with diabetes, his insulin cost about $35 a bottle.

But Krugen, an AFSCME retiree from Arizona, will never forget the day when she and her husband went to the drug store to pick up his insulin and the pharmacist told them it now cost $900 a bottle.

“This was medication he needed to live, and we had insurance,” she said at a press briefing earlier this month. “We looked at each other and had to ask ourselves: Do we make the house payment? Do we buy food? Or do we pay for his medication?”

The pandemic has led many of us to take stock of our lives and our goals. For AFSCME New Jersey member LaTrenda Ross, the pandemic ignited a long-held dream—starting her own life coaching business.

“I was thinking about revamping my whole entire life,” recalls Ross, a member of Local 2306. “I was looking out for things I want to do, things I haven’t been going after.”

More Americans approve of labor unions today than at any time since 1965, according to annual Gallup poll results released around each Labor Day.

More than two-thirds of poll respondents – 68% – approved of labor unions. That means a clear majority of voters views labor unions favorably. Among adults 18-34 years of age, 77% approve of unions. Support is also high among those with annual household incomes under $40,000.

One of our union rights is to facilitate regular monthly meetings with management, human resources, and labor relations to discuss ongoing workplace issues. Currently we have representatives from each service center with the exceptions of BD, N. Mpls, and SD. We are working to get representatives from each location to be present at the monthly meetings. Please see below regarding May’s Service Center Meet & Confer report:

Brookdale Library has a pre-pandemic history of ventilation/HVAC issues. At this juncture, the problem does not appear to be mechanical, but rather one of facilities management choice and/or routinely not being in the loop when Brookdale’s building schedule changes. Workers frequently complain (sometimes patrons do), but are routinely told: “The system is working fine” or that some unstated mystery problem has been resolved.

Are you returning to work? Do you have a medical condition?

We are looking for members to share their experiences returning to work during the pandemic with a medical condition.

Please email [email protected] (or another trusted union member) with your budget or for more information. Tell your story.