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.

All-knowing sources of information. Tour guides to the highways and byways of history. The friendly voice of a morning story time. If that’s all you think of when you think of your library staff, you’d do well to meet some of AFSCME’s library workers, whose reach goes far beyond their libraries’ walls.

Today is National Library Workers Day, when we honor those professionals who keep our libraries running: librarians, technicians and other staff, including custodians, security and maintenance workers.

Fifty-one years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. traveled to Memphis to help rally the community around 1,300 AFSCME sanitation workers who had gone on strike.

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Check out the March 2019 Newsletter. 

In the 1980s, I was living and going to school in Minnesota when women who worked for state government won a big victory. They got the state to increase the pay of women in “female dominated jobs” by passing a pay equity bill. In other words, they put a dent in the gender pay gap. As a student, I researched and wrote about the process of crafting, passing and implementing that legislation. And I learned something that I have never forgotten: the union made it happen. And not just any union. Our union: AFSCME. 

On February 8th, Arbitrator Stephen Befort ruled against AFSCME Hennepin County Locals in our class action grievance regarding performance pay. For those of you who were not aware, the County decided to carve out workers with a performance review from December 23rd to December 31st in 2018 and deny them their contractual right to a step increase. They argued that since the increase went into effect the next full pay period (in January 2019) that they would get the 3% increase under our new contract instead of their step.

In December, Southdale Library workers learned that Library Administration, led by interim Library director Janet Mills, was completely eliminating their building security presence with no input from library staff. Faced with a unilateral decision that left many workers feeling unsafe and worried about patron safety in a large, multi-level building, they knew they needed to act.

Ali Fuhrman, President, Minneapolis Central Library

Workers in the Central Records of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office achieved a major win in March when a manager who had harassed and intimidated workers for years was finally held ac-countable and removed her position there.