|AFSCME Council 18|
AFSCME New Mexico 2013 Biennial Convention Concludes
President Lee Saunders Calls On New Mexico to engage: “We’ve got to take it to the streets and embrace the old ways with more militant action”
11 year old Khrissy Reeves couldn’t imagine she would ever see a trash truck dance, but that was exactly what she and New Mexico members of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees were treated to Saturday night. Khrissy is daughter of Roswell Corrections Officer Sean Reeves, a Chaplain, AFSCME steward, and newly elected executive board member of AFSCME Council 18. Earlier in the day, Khrissy led 200+ AFSCME members in the pledge of allegiance as the 2013 AFSCME-New Mexico Biennial Convention convened.
The screening of award winning film Trash Dance, starring AFSCME union members of Austin, Texas’ Solid Waste Department, rounded out three days of events for the convention, which took place June 21, 22, and 23 at the Hotel Albuquerque. The Convention was attended by hundreds of delegates and their families from across New Mexico who came together to elect a new executive board, strategize, and participate in a rally at Civic Plaza that condemned the leadership skills and policies of Mayor Richard J. Berry.
250 union members and allies rallied and marched around Civic Plaza Friday afternoon, singing chants that demanded, “Mayor Berry has got to go.” A dozen Albuquerque Police Department Officers were on hand across from Civic Plaza in case the peaceful rally escalated to something more militant.
“I believe if the officers were called in to break up our demonstration, they would’ve done so without the least bit of enthusiasm. Mayor Berry’s policies and leadership have put Duke City public safety and officers safety in jeopardy.” noted Miles Conway, AFSCME Communications.
AFSCME, and all of Albuquerque Labor, take issue with Berry’s leadership and policies. Recent studies reveal that Albuquerque tops the list nationally when measuring childhood hunger, loss of jobs, crimes driven by poverty, and the number of residents choosing to leave for greener pastures.
On Friday night, Attendees heard the comedic stylings of Steven Michael Quezada, star in the NM based series, Breaking Bad, an Albuquerque Native, and City School Board Member. Attorney General Gary King, Sen. Linda Lopez, Rep. Georgene Louis, Senator Jacob Candelaria, ABQ Council Vice President Ken Sanchez, and many other elected leaders joined AFSCME International President Lee Saunders for the evening. Quezada shared the stage with Frmr. Sen Eric Griego, and Elijah Bradford, an Obama impressionist, to share their gifts of comedy and satire.
Albuquerque Poet Laureate Hakim Bellamy kicked off Saturday’s strong list of presenters with two very moving original pieces, “Bread and Roses” and “100 Years of Corridos, a Psalm for the New Mexico Centennial”. (Hear audio at AFSCME18.org)
While messages varied, each of the convention’s speakers struck a common theme; that systemic dishonesty and right wing policies are wreaking havoc on the underpinnings of our democracy.
Presenters included: New Mexico Federation of Labor President Jon Hendry, Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, Mayoral Candidate Pete Dinelli, Senator Tom Udall and Auditor Hector Balderas. Senator Heinrich andCongessman Ben Ray Lujan were busy in Washington, but sent video greetings and representatives to deliver statements.
Hector Balderas thanked AFSCME, “for supporting me, and allowing me to get in the middle of the largest street fights in our state.” Balderas alluded to recent abuses of state funds and how his office has been a fierce defender of the public good.
Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham gave a passionate speech on her fight to protect New Mexico families from the ravages of poverty. “Over 250,000 NM Children benefit from the SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] and Republicans are currently attacking that funding.”
State Land Commissioner Ray Powell hit the nail on the head, declaring that “not only is New Mexico experiencing a drought in water, we’re experiencing a drought in leadership.”
The finale of the convention had AFSCME members arising early at 6:00 a.m. to cast their ballots and elect a new executive board to lead 15,000 New Mexico AFSCME members through the next two years.
The new leaders include:
© American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO. All rights reserved.
Photographs and illustrations, as well as text, cannot be used without permission from AFSCME.