|AFSCME Council 18|
AFSCME Strong! Coaches Training Launches for Western Region
AFSCME Member Activists from Western U.S. and Hawaii Gather in Albuquerque for AFSCME Strong "Coaches" Training
In 2014, AFSCME New Mexico led the Western region for the AFSCME Stronger! campaign effort by signing up 1,700+ new union members and moving veteran members to action.
That's why on Friday and Saturday, June 25, 26 three dozen AFSCME members and activists from across New Mexico and Western States, including Hawaii, gathered in the AFSCME Lujan Union Hall in Albuquerque for the first in its series of two-day intensive action trainings. The AFSCME Stronger! Coaches training has been developed to give activists the skills necessary to build an active union membership, and share the vision that workers are Stronger Together!
Connie Derr, executive director of Council 18, opened the training with a message on the urgency of what's at stake for workers in our country in general, and New Mexico specifically. "New Mexico union members won major victories this year with the defeat of scam right to work legislation and other anti-workers measures. Now is the time to step it up because our adversaries are throwing everything they've got at us.
"AFSCME and the labor movement are the strongest, most effective voices for working people in America," said Sister Derr. "These battles aren't always a joy, but they're necessary. Attacks against good wages, rights at work, retirement security; these attacks are as personal as they get. AFSCME is dedicated to winning these battles."
Participants studied techniques to engage their co-worker in one-on-one conversations and initiate discussions around our Labor movement and how AFSCME has an impact over the profound workplace issues we face in our country today.
"My goal as President of my local is to have state employees respect and value the work of the union," said Celesty Tsosie, Local 2777 President of Farmington. "We respect them so deeply that we stick our necks out to protect our co-workers' rights, and devote our personal time in the fight for justice. As a first time door knocker, I was full of anxiety. Once we started talking, that fear went away. I thought it was remarkable how informed and concerned union family members were about their husband or wife's working conditions. As a union, the more communication we have, the better things can become."
No other single organization embodies all the high ideals which are championed by AFSCME and the labor movement; equality, opportunity, justice, commitment, brother and sisterhood, sacrifice, and family.
"At our worksite, we know every single worker on every shift," said Daniel Solis, President of Local 1413, Detention Officer at Santa Fe County Detention Center. "Knowing our union members and the true issues was the first step. This training gave me the tools to bring motivation to a larger population in my Local and make the PEOPLE program stronger as well.
"I was surprised how easy it was. We had the chance to sit down with a worker who had never been asked to join. She thought union dues were automatic. We had a chance to listen to her issues, she was happy to see us, and joined as a member," said Brother Solis.
Roberta 'Bobbi' Larez, Vice-President for Local 3277, Rio Rancho City workers said, "As an accountant, I could certainly make more money in the private sector, but I choose to work union because the benefits are better, I'm close to home, and I have rights! I had a chance to speak with a woman who was just like me when I began my career. She was intimidated to speak up at work, so was I.
"Even though I came from a union family, I was shy and intimidated in the beginning. I had a supervisor who used to prey on single moms and on that fear. Once I joined the union, and embraced my union rights, it made me stronger. I realized I had a voice and didn't need to be afraid to use it. Once I stood to up to my boss, we reached a higher level of respect."
"This training reminded me that, once upon a time, a union steward helped me find my voice and now, I have a responsibility to help the next generation."
"This training was a great experience," said Robert Darnell, President Local 3422C, Corrections Officers at Central New Mexico Correctional Facility. "It was fun to be able to connect with people and understand their issues. In my line of work, when interacting with the inmate population, those meaningful connections are discouraged.
"It was nice to realize that as Corrections Officers, we're not alone. Workers are suffering with understaffing and sub-standard pay in all sorts of departments. Once I got to speak with the workers, and listen to their issues, they're not just public employees anymore, they're human beings.
"This AFSCME Strong Coaches training helped me realize that, as a union activist, I must understand what's important to my fellow workers as individuals," concludes Brother Darnell.
The union is about solutions, it's about solving problems, and fighting the good fight. Win or lose, it's better to be on the field of battle, and not watching from the sidelines.
© 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.