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Mandy Roberts-Amo is a teacher’s assistant at an elementary school in upstate New York, where she helps a legally blind child get through his day. His name is Jonathan. To Mandy, helping Jonathan learn and improve is more than a job, it’s a calling. And that’s in part because to her Jonathan is more than a student.

On Sept. 11, 2001, we as a nation faced a tragedy unique in our history.

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Public service workers across the country lauded the passage of Nevada Senate Bill 135, which expands collective bargaining rights to over 20,000 Nevada state employees – the largest statewide expansion of collective bargaining rights in 16 years.

The bill, expected to be signed into law by Gov. Steve Sisolak, comes at a time when unions are experiencing the highest level of public support in more than a decade.

Last year, after nearly 25 years of working hard at her job at the University of Michigan, Deborah Van Horn was forced out of work by health issues and soon found herself in need of financial assistance.

“I was put on disability, but after a while you only get about 50 percent of your normal wages,” she recounts. “It was important to me to cover general expenses and keep my credit in good standing.”

EMS Week is a time to recognize the sacrifices that EMS professionals make for their communities and to honor these skilled heroes who rush into danger when we need them most. AFSCME EMS professionals play an essential role in the emergency response system, but their stories—and the wounds they suffer on the job—are often overlooked.

Some people have wild stories about their coworkers. Jill’s, though, are unique.

Jill Erzar is a zookeeper at Como Zoo in St Paul. Her coworkers are giraffes, bison, reindeer, kudu, zebra, and other hooved animals of all shapes and sizes.

Growing up, Jill always loved animals. She considered becoming a veterinarian, and was studying animal health in college before she took an internship at Como Zoo.

“By Day Two, I was a goner,” Jill said. “I knew this was what I wanted to do.”

Minnesota winters are tough. In Rochester, several blizzards brought the entire town to a standstill. Major roads and highways were closed, sometimes for days at a time.

When weather makes it unsafe to travel, Jeff Paulson – better known as Scuffy – hits the road. Scuffy works at MnDOT District 6, which covers Southern Minnesota. In the summer, Scuffy and his MnDOT team inspect bridges, maintain signage, and fix potholes and other road damage. But in the winter, they plow snow.

Members of AFSCME’s law enforcement community take countless risks to keep our communities safe. When those brave heroes make the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, our obligation is to never forget them.

National Police Week is a time to honor fallen law enforcement officers, as well as a time for the law enforcement community to stand in solidarity with each other.

During National Nurses Week, we celebrate the heroes who, with skill and compassion, care for the sick. This year, we’re honoring their hard work and dedication by supporting the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, a bill that seeks to raise the bar on safety standards and protect nurses from preventable incidents of violence at work.

Hennepin County HR has made significant changes that could lessen the value of our benefits. On March 21, without prior consultation with our AFSCME Local Unions, HR Director Michael Rossman announced an end to the practice of using our Vacation/PTO right before retirement. On April 4 Kathy Krepsky of HR Benefits announced changes that severely limit the number of Vacation/PTO hours workers can cash out each year. 

This represents an attack on our benefits and a potential financial loss for us all.