AFSCME Council 18

"I've Got Your Back" - Summer 2016 AFSCME Member Organizers

"If I'm working in the trench, and a valve blows, I know these guys have my back and will pull me out. Paying Union dues is the same thing...we must have each others backs." - Joey Sanchez, AFSCME Local 624 Board Member & Volunteer Member Organizer

AFSCME Member Organizers Build Membership and Local Power

AFSCME Local 624, Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, Utility Techs, (L to R) Joey Sanchez, Robert Ramirez, Michael Brown

Member Organizers Spotlight

Santa Fe County Detention Center, Local 1413 President, Daniel Solis and Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, Local 624 executive board member and activist, Joey Sanchez are the June / July volunteer members organizers of the month. They've gone above and beyond to build their Local membership, keep rank and file members informed, and help them find pathways for taking action to improve union careers.

Daniel Solis, President of Local 1413, Santa Fe County Detention Center, credits his fellow detention center officers for building the kind of solidarity and unified purpose which has led to his Local reaching a 99% membership level.

"Our Local had a rough beginning. We filed (and won) half a dozen labor charges against the county to let them know we were serious," says Solis. "By including membership in the tough decisions, we've set a direction for our Local that helped build solidarity."

Detention center employees voted to have AFSCME be their exclusive bargaining representative over another competing organization in 2014.  Members who were active in the previous organization report that there is unification among the officers that hadn't existed before. Led by President Solis, Local 1413 executive board members and activists recently held a series of actions to build membership.

"We stood at the gates in the morning to meet and speak with members about the issues we face and how we are working to improve things," said Solis. "The organizing drive lasted a week, and we signed up 29 new members."

[NEXT UP for Local 1413: contract negotiations where Pres. Solis and his membership intend to push for a better retirement benefit and improved recruitment efforts by the county to address high vacancy levels.]

Joey Sanchez, Local 624 Executive Board, spent a long time working as a water utility operator before deciding to become active in his union. "I wanted to see more out of our contract negotiations team," says Sanchez. "But how could I blame those guys if I wasn't involved myself?"

Brother Sanchez began attending meetings and earned a spot on the contract negotiations team. That was only the beginning though according to Sanchez. "I began talking about the union at work. I told the guys, 'don't just trust me, trust yourself. Come to the meetings, make sure for yourselves that we're doing our jobs.'"

Brother Sanchez, a married father with two children, is a career water operator of 20 years. He draws a parallel between the dangerous work of maintaining a large water system and union activism. "If I'm working in the trench, and injured after a valve blows, I know these guys have my back and will pull me out. Paying Union dues is the same thing. Whether we're fighting a grievance, or negotiating for important contract language, paying union dues is the way we protect one another and watch each others backs."

Recent organizing efforts by Brother Sanchez signed up 17 new members for Local 624, ABCWUA.

"We've seen a lot of good careers disappear in this country," says Sanchez. "I plan to keep fighting through the union to protect the good jobs that remain. We have to continue the fight for our kids."

[Thanks to a strong membership, Local 624 - ABCWUA negotiations team recently struck an agreement with the employer which includes a 6.5% hourly wage increase over three years]


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