46th Annual Convention: Council 13 delegates fight for their rights
As the labor movement marches toward the biggest fight of its existence, 393 delegates and 110 alternates of AFSCME Council 13 got ready to rumble at the 46th Annual Convention in Hershey, Pa.
With the action kicking off at the Friday Night Delegate Reception, titled “Fight Night,” which included food, fun and even a wrestling match, attendees got fired up and ready for the main event.
On Saturday, convention delegates got down to business following dynamic, wrestling/boxing-inspired entrances by the eight District Council directors and Executive Director David Fillman.
The newly-formed AFSCME Council 13 Color Guard presented the colors, with Council 13 Confidential Secretary Samantha Danielson singing the national anthem. Willie Sawyers, District Council 90 Executive Board member and pastor at Guiding Light Ministries, led the delegation in the invocation.
“I may be retired, but I’m ready to keep fighting so that everyone in this room, and generations of AFSCME members to come, can also enjoy a secure retirement,” Council 13 President Todd Singer said.
Along with President Singer, general session speakers included Executive Director Fillman, U.S. Senator Bob Casey, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and AFSCME International President Lee Saunders.
“When I look around this room, I see fighters. I see survivors. I see champions. Champions of fairness. Champions of a better tomorrow. Champions of the labor movement!” Fillman said.
As always, President Saunders brought the energy to the afternoon portion of the session, warning of the forthcoming attempts to get AFSCME members to leave their union following the Janus decision, and assuring full support of Council 13 from the International Union in the 2018 election.
“When they attack one of us, they attack all of us,” Saunders proclaimed.
Following both Casey and Wolf’s speeches, which reinforced the elected officials’ appreciation for and commitment to AFSCME members, Council 13 delegates passed resolutions to endorse their re-elections this November.
Along with that, the delegation passed resolutions to fight for retirement security, protect collective bargaining, encourage financial responsibility, enact a fair state budget, implement New Employee Orientation programs, create Member Action Teams, protect public sector workers and prepare for the loss of Fair Share fees, among others.
On Saturday night, District Council 86 was awarded both the Outstanding PAL and MVP Awards, and the western District Councils won the East vs. West PAL competition. Congratulations!
The convention concluded on Sunday, when Local 2327 (Clarks Summit State Hospital) member Bob Gaughan shared his and other locals’ work with Toys For Tots, which has raised thousands of dollars for the charity, followed by a presentation from AFSCME International Secretary-Treasurer Elissa McBride.
McBride shared the ongoing AFSCME Strong efforts around the country, and how members here in Pennsylvania can continue to be involved. As the last piece of business of the convention, delegates enthusiastically endorsed McBride’s election as Secretary-Treasurer this July at the international convention, where Council 13 will be loud and proud in their support.
With the Janus v. AFSCME case looming, extremist legislators constantly plotting against unions and a history-defining election on the horizon, it is time to fight for our rights like never before, because when we fight, we win.