AFSCME Council 18

Council 18's 7th Annual Public Safety Blue Breakfast & Lobby Day “Better Than Ever!"

On January 11, AFSCME public safety members turned out for Council 18's Annual Public Safety Blue Breakfast & Lobby Day, in Santa Fe. 80+ members participated in the outstanding program of topical issues by recognized public safety leaders, sharing peer-to-peer information, and lobbying our NM legislature. This year marked the largest ever member turnout.

Chaplin José Villegas, Sr., who opened the event with an Invocation that connected faith with the dangerous jobs of our members, was a perfect fit. Chaplin Villegas is the named chaplain for the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, City of Santa Fe police and fire departments, and the regional offices of the FBI. He has served as a corrections officer, law enforcement officer, and 911 dispatcher.

The two co-chairs of AFSCME Council 18’s Public Safety Steering Committee, Sammy Marquez, president, Espanola Police Officers’ Union Local 923, and Daniel Dore, executive board member, Metropolitan Detention Center Corrections Officers’ Union Local 2499, shared emceeing duties.

(pictured L toR: Sammy Marquez, Chaplain Villegas, Sr., Daniel Dore) 

The first roundtable discussion focused on victories, opportunities and challenges. The victories reported out were a much longer list and included membership involvement, positive relationship with administration and/or elected officials, overturned unjust disciplines, implementing longevity pay, long-overdue pay increases/winning wage theft grievances, safety upgrades, improved contract language, more trained stewards and facility bids. 

The opportunities included sector growth, training and recruitment of new hires, educating and holding elected officials accountable. As expected, many of the issues on the list of victories also appeared on the list of challenges, including high vacancy rates, poor pay, outdated equipment, inexperienced administration, new hires unfamiliar with the benefits of a union shop, unjust disciplines and excessive overtime.

(pictured: George Mendez, Local 3422, Springer Chapter)

"There was near 500 hundred years of public safety experience in that room,” said Tomas Romero, president of City of Albuquerque Officers’ Union Local 1888. “Union-represented public safety officers ensures worker protection and safe communities are a priority.”

(pictured: Tomas Romero, president, City of Albuquerque Security Officers Union Local 1888)

Connie Derr, executive director of AFSCME Council 18, said, “The greatest challenge to public safety and all communities is the anti-worker, anti-family legislation called ‘right to work.’ The legislation, which is proposed by Governor Martinez and a highly-partisan group of legislators, would have a devastating impact on the ability to protect workers, the profession of public safety, and the communities they represent.”

(pictured: Connie Derr, executive director, AFSCME Council 18)

AFSCME International President Lee Saunders sent a video greeting to the members, acknowledging the importance of the council’s annual event. President Saunders recognized several recent workplace wins in New Mexico, as well as the attacks on workers that will be coming from anti-worker legislators in the Roundhouse. He impressed upon the attendees that the only way to defeat those actions is by organizing new members and engagement. 

In a moment of levity, President Saunders called out Governor Martinez’ inability to distinguish a snowball from a beer bottle. (Governor Martinez’ audio of bullying a hotel front desk attendant, as well as Santa Fe law enforcement, did not stop at the border!)

Attendees heard from FBI Special Agent Stephan Marshall on modern day threats that law enforcement and public safety workers are facing today.

"As public safety professionals, if you're not thinking about active shooters when you go out in the morning, then you’re not reading the papers enough,” said Marshall. “Running toward the sound of gunfire isn’t a normal person’s tendency, but it is your tendency, and that is why I’m so honored to be here.”

(pictured: Stephan Marshall, special agent, FBI)

Recognizing the devastation of active shooter situations, AFSCME is encouraging all public agencies and facilities to develop protocols and provide training so employees may be better prepared to react to an active shooter scenario. 

The FBI’s ALERT program provides assistance to local governments to ensure that first responders will be working together should such a horrific incident occur.

AFSCME International’s Assistant Director of Research and Collective Bargaining, Michael Messina, updated the members on public safety legislation being debated in Congress and provided a national perspective of public safety activities from AFSCME affiliates across the country. Brother Messina debuted AFSCME International’s re-edited national law enforcement service video, which included footage of Brother Marquez and two New Mexican business owners. (The video will be up on the website soon.)

(pictured: Michael Messina, assistant director, AFSCME International)

Council 18 Public Safety Committee Steering Co-chair, Daniel Dore, executive board member of MDC Corrections Officers’ Union Local 2499, led a segment on elements for a strong local union. 

“One of the most important aspects is for the leadership of the local to reach out to every probationary employee and keep them informed of workplace issues." said Dore.  "Then, as soon as the officer is off probation, they seek out the local union officer to request a membership card and to become involved in the local.” 

Following Brother Dore’s discussion of how his local builds membership strength, the members participated in the second roundtable discussion focusing on how each member can make their local stronger, community safer, and profession better.

(pictured: Daniel Dore, executive board member, MDC Corrections Officers’ Union, Local 2499)

Kristeena Brooks and Chris Coulter, PORAC Legal Defense Fund membership coordinator and trustee, respectively, engaged the members with real case examples of protecting members’ rights through the LDF program. The program provides legal representation for any civil or criminal charge against a member for an act within their scope of employment, which is defined as anything the officer is hired to do, trained to do, or paid to do. The majority of AFSCME Council 18’s public safety locals already provide this AFSCME members-only benefit.

(pictured: Kristeena Brooks, membership coordinator, and Chris Coulter, trustee, PORAC Legal Defense Fund)

(pictured: Eric Allen, vice-president, Metropolitan Detention Center Officers’ Union Local 2499)

Members Eric Allen, vice-president of MDC Corrections Officers’ Union Local 2499 and police officer Sammy Marquez, co-presented the Reactive Control Model (RCM). Based on their respective professions, the training demonstrated its application inside facilities, as well as street side.

AFSCME Council 18 General Counsel Shane Youtz shared a few of the legal cases that AFSCME has fought on behalf of its members. He accurately characterized the fight for right-to-work legislation and the U.S. Supreme Court case of Freidrichs v California Teachers Association, as a direct threat to democracy. 

"What the lawmakers trying to pass these laws don't tell you about right to work is that the laws are fundamentally anti-democratic and restrictive of freedom," said Youtz. "A union is the product of a decision freely made by the majority of workers in a workplace - they are exercising their American right to bring democracy into the workplace. Right to work laws restrict that freedom; controls it, cripples it. A mandatory dues clause only exists where employees and employer agree to a contract including such language. 

"Right to work restricts the right of those workers to form and govern their democracy and it restricts the natural right of employers to enter into a mutual agreement of their own free will. The law amounts to government control over private contracts freely entered into by workers and their employers. The law dictates an unacceptable level of governmental meddling and control into private contracts and violates basic American principles of free enterprise and democracy. We are Americans - we should be free to choose our own way. Governor Martinez' desire to control these private contracts is a power grab - an attempt to force her interests on us at the cost of our own freedom," concluded Youtz.

(pictured: Shane Youtz, AFSCME General Counsel)

In discussing current and proposed legislation in this 30-day legislative session, which began January 19, and the importance of lobbying the legislature on the issues of immediate impact, such as staff retention and recruitment, which are tied to wages, and training, Council 18 President Casey Padilla encouraged the membership to spend the afternoon lobbying their legislators.

(pictured: Casey Padilla, president, AFSCME Council 18)

Sister Derr summed up the importance of action during this legislative session.  “None of us want to look in the mirror in late February and wish we would have met with our legislators, or meant to have called or written our legislators, or should have asked our families to contact the legislators. No, each of us must to be able to look in the mirror and say, I gave it everything I had, I worked it hard, I helped mobilize my co-workers, family, and neighbors to protect workers and our communities….and with all of us working together, that’s how we were able to defeat anti-worker legislation like ‘right-to-work-for-less’.”

(Public Safety members headed to the Roundhouse to hear the Department of Corrections present its budget request to the Legislative Finance Committee)

(Public Safety members meeting with legislators at the Roundhouse to the Department of Corrections present to the Legislative Finance Committee)

This is a fantastic learning and networking experience,” said Albuquerque 911 Dispatcher Michael Dorin, president of City of Albuquerque Clerical and Technical Workers’ Union Local 2962. “I guarantee you that Local 2962 will have a larger contingency next year!”

"Participation in the Blue Breakfast increases every year. There is no better way for AFSCME members to learn than from each other,” said Rob Trombley, public safety coordinator for AFSCME Council 18.

(pictured: Rob Trombley, public safety coordinator, AFSCME Council 18)

And there was a bit of fun, too. Two locals and three members were recipients of $50 gift cards provided by AFSCME Council 18’s labor insurance carrier, American Income life. The gift cards were awarded as follows:

Highest percentage of membership: Bernalillo County Court Security Officers’ Local 1661

Highest number of new PEOPLE members in 2015: NM State Correctional Officers’ Union Local 3422, Central Chapter

Recognition of the hard work by the two co-chairs of Council 18’s Public Safety Steering Committee: Sammy Marquez, president, Espanola Police Officers’ Union Local 923, and Daniel Dore, executive board member, MDC Corrections Officers’ Union Local 2499

Raffle winner: Erica Martinez, member, Bernalillo County Youth Services Center Corrections Officers’ Union, Local 1536.

Council 18’s Public Safety Blue Breakfast & Lobby Day is held each year during the legislative session. It is open to all AFSCME public safety members so plan to attend next year!

In Solidarity

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