American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
1625 L Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036-5687
60,000 members within United Nurses of America
85,000 members within AFCSME Corrections United
240,000+ members within AFSCME Retirees United
Investor Network on Climate Risk
AFSCME has approximately 3,400 local unions and 58 councils and affiliates in 46 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Every local writes its own constitution, designs its own structure, elects its own officers and sets its own dues. It appears that regional councils are given a large degree of creative license to create new programs and set the agenda for the international union. Some local programs have been adopted by the International Union as a whole.
The International Union, based in Washington, DC, coordinates the union’s actions on major national issues such as privatization, fair taxes and health care. The International also provides resources to councils and local unions for organizing, bargaining, political action and education, and administers members-only benefits. Every two years, delegates to AFSCME’s International Convention decide on the union’s basic policies. Every four years, they elect the International Union’s President, Secretary-Treasurer and 35 regional vice presidents.
AFSCME has four outstanding councils called “Special Bodies.” They include the United Nurses of America (UNA), Corrections United (ACU), AFSCME Retirees, Child Care Providers Together (CCPT).
Early Childhood Education
Health Care Workers
Probation and Parole
Saunders began his career with AFSCME in 1978 as a labor economist. He has served in the capacities of Assistant Director of Research and Collective Bargaining Services, Director of Community Action and Deputy Director of Organizing and Field Services. Saunders also served as Executive Assistant to the President of AFSCME. Building on ideas generated by local unions, Saunders has championed AFSCME’s Next Wave initiative to encourage and develop the next generation of union leadership.
He has served as administrator of a number of AFSCME councils and large local unions across the country. For nearly four years, he served as Administrator of AFSCME District Council 37, New York City’s largest public employee union, representing 125,000 members. In that capacity, he was successful in restoring the fiscal health, integrity and good name of the council and its 56 affiliated local unions.
Saunders serves as a Vice President of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, which guides the daily work of the labor federation. He is an at-large member of the Democratic National Committee, Treasurer of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and a member of the Executive Committee of the Congressional Black Caucus Institute’s 21st Century Committee. He also serves on the Board of the National Action Network.
In 2002, Reyes joined the United Domestic Workers (UDW) Homecare Providers Union/AFSCME Local 3930. She was elected as a delegate to the AFSCME convention for the first time in 2006, and she became a member of the committee that modernized and wrote the present UDW constitution to make it more member-focused. Reyes was elected UDW President in 2008 and an AFSCME International Vice President in 2009.
Executive Vice Presidents: See Appendix 1
Dennis Houlihan at headquarters is the only national contact I know and his email address is: email@example.com
4419 NE Sumner St, Portland, OR 97218-1545 firstname.lastname@example.org
6025 E. Burnside, Portland, OR 97215
(503) 239-9858, (800)792-0045, FAX (503)239-9441
(503) 229-6254, email@example.com
25 Barclay Street, New York, NY 10007
(212) 815-1000, www.dc37.net/index.html
AFSCME is engaged in the climate change debate and has a deep understanding of both the potential and risks the crisis presents. AFSCME frames climate change both as a global problem requiring international cooperation and as an issue directly impacting its public sector membership. On the global level, AFSCME is working to “increase technical and financial assistance to less-developed countries for environmental protection and environmentally sound development.” In the public sector, AFSCME’s environmental stewards and transportation employees are directly affected by climate change legislation.
AFSCME notes that its members’ federal employers are obligated to change their practices to be more sustainable. While conscious of the new skills and training required to respond to new green practices, the union has clearly determined that the long-term benefits of green policies outweigh these costs. As a result, the union has more freedom to take a strong stance in the environmental movement. AFSCME even cites an LNS report, “Climate Legislation Must Provide a Just Transition for Workers, November 2009 White Paper.”
Through the AFL-CIO program “Go Green, Save Green,” AFSCME has incentivized personal greening by offering rebates for members with the AFSCME Advantage card. Some of the deals include professional home energy audits, a discounted HVAC service contract from a union contractor, energy efficient home heating systems, and a discount on the union made, EPA-approved Green Vehicle through the Union Plus Auto Buying Program. Any purchases made for the home energy audits result in a small donation to the Blue Green Alliance.
Many AFSCME members specifically work in state environmental quality departments. AFSCME explicitly labels the environment as one of its key issues, listing climate change as a pivotal challenge. In particular, locals from Oregon and New York stand out as most active and informed. In 2007, environmentally concerned Oregonian AFSCME members formed the AFSCMEgreen Environmental Caucus to bring environmental protection into the bargaining room. One of their missions is “to form greater links between labor and environment in order to ensure that policies and practices both help the environment while also fostering family-wage jobs and a healthy economy.”
In the 2010 International convention, AFSCMEgreen influenced the resolution of a “Climate Action Plan” (See Appendix 2). As a result, the International Union concluded ”that council and local affiliates will support state and local government agencies to accelerate and expand their commitment to greenhouse gas emission reduction programs, and encourage them to include specifications for public contracts to include equitable opportunities for green jobs among historically-disadvantaged communities, fair wages and benefits for workers, and preference for unionized, local firms.”
Significantly, AFSCME possesses strong clout in fundraising and member mobilization and extensive lobbying expertise. Therefore, AFSCME has been able to increase its environmental campaign since its inception in the 1970s. In 2008, AFSCME renewed its interest in the environment movement and vowed to take a multi-pronged approach to environmental activism. To reach across industries, the union has developed its own AFSCME Green Network for discussing best practices for the union, home and workplace, legislative and policy proposals, green jobs and training, and more.
AFSCME’s website boasts of resources for climate change and global warming, greening the Workplace, green bargaining, green jobs, green living, green legislation and policies, and green pension and investing. From internal greening, to activating its membership to be environmentally conscious, AFSCME has a Sustainability Planning Toolkit for helping cities and counties develop a sustainability plan.
AFSCME has also pushed for environmentally friendly infrastructure and construction. For example, in 2009, the AFL-CIO reported “AFSCME worked with the investment staff of CalPERS, the $239 billion pension fund for State of California employees, to develop language for its new infrastructure investment policy that specifically targets green infrastructure as a priority area.” Furthermore, AFSCME’s Corporate Governance and Investment Program has met with “real estate development organizations and private equity asset managers to urge them to consider expanding investment programs in buildings that meet LEED standards and use clean, energy saving technologies.”
Civil Service Technical Guild Local 375 of New York City worked with the Consortium for Workers Education to win a $50,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for a LEED design training program. This was in direct response to PlaNYC2030, which requires city engineers, architects, and similar workers to upgrade their knowledge and get certified in the new LEED standards for sustainable, eco-friendly structures. Already, participants of this program have taken their skills to the drawing board for the creation of at least three sustainable schools.
AFSCME believes in the concept of a green economy. The union knows that buy-in has to start from within and expand outward. One resolution, submitted by a particularly active environmental local in California, stated that AFSCME “shall encourage locals and councils to negotiate environmentally related issues into their contract language, including the formation of joint labor-management committees that would strive to apply an environmental ethic to workplace practices.” Additionally, AFSCME leaders have met with a number of large corporations to discuss internal policies related to climate change risk and its corporate disclosures on sustainability matters. These companies have included AIG, Sunoco, British Petroleum, and others (Labor for Green Jobs and the Environment 2009). Beginning with activism, stretching sustainable policies to the contractual level, and finally, influencing the conglomerates that threaten the environment, AFSCME is a green leader.
Green Employment Prospects
AFSCME sees an inlet into job creation for its members via green building. With the aforementioned training program in NY, guild members are now equipped with LEED certification and ready to put their new skills into practice.
AFSCME joined with the California Wind Energy Association, Sierra Club California and the American Lung Association of California to support the passage of SBX1-2, a law that requires that 33 percent of the state’s energy come from renewable sources by 2020. Previously, the goal was 20 percent by 2010. Independent Energy Producer Executive Director Jan Smutny-Jones, another SBX1-2 supporter, called the landmark measure “a major victory for green jobs, clean energy and the state’s economy.”
Additional Comments and Analysis
AFSCME created Next Wave in 2006 to reach its younger membership. This group may offer a good inlet for talking about climate change as the environmental movement has hit this consumer generation harder than older generations.
A study by the University of Maryland found that “the costs of climate change rapidly exceed benefits and place major strains on public sector budgets, personal income and job security. Because of the economic costs of climate change, we conclude that delayed action (or inaction) on global climate change will likely be the most expensive policy option.” With so many members in the public sector, AFSCME’s investment in clean and renewable energy has the potential to be crucial in the climate change debate. AFSCME jobs are directly threatened by the roller coaster that climate change could inflict on public budgets.
Climate Change Action Plan
Submitted By: AFSCME Council 75
Resolution for 39th International AFSCME Resolution in Boston
AFSCME recognizes that climate change is the leading environmental, economic and social challenge of our time, with the potential to cause irreparable harm to the physical and social fabric of our communities; and
WHEREAS: AFSCME International has adopted resolutions at previous conventions regarding the environment and global warming. In 1994, we resolved in part “that AFSCME continue to support the efforts of Public Services International and public sector unions throughout the world.” In 2004 we resolved in part “that AFSCME express its support for the international Global Warming Treaty.” In 2008 we resolved in part “that AFSCME calls for the adoption of federal legislation to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions to levels consistent with the recommendations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading body of climate experts.” All of which urge action by our members and affiliates on this important issue; and
WHEREAS: The AFSCME 2008 resolution on Global Warming and Green Jobs resolved to “call for the adoption of federal legislation to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions to levels consistent with the recommendations from the IPCC,” which urge “60 to 90 percent reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by the year 2050 in order to avoid the worst and most costly impacts of climate change”; and
WHEREAS: The most recent studies of greenhouse gas emissions show that the primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions are from materials consumption, energy use and transportation; and
WHEREAS: Methods for effectively dealing with climate change include strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (known as mitigation) and also strategies for preparedness in responding to the changes to the environment that are already inevitable due to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (known as adaptation or preparedness); and
WHEREAS: Climate change mitigation and preparedness strategies will include large investments in public infrastructure and services, such as energy efficiency programs, expanded public transportation systems, water services, renewable energy, as well as preparing for extreme weather events; and
WHEREAS: AFSCME International members are uniquely placed to play a leadership role on climate change at local, state, national and international levels because of their work in service of the public in a variety of jobs that contribute to climate change mitigation and preparedness; and
WHEREAS: In implementing solutions to climate change, AFSCME can help the United States labor movement to be engaged in the process, enhance the image of our union nationally and internationally, and demonstrate to our members that our union cares about this important issue; and
WHEREAS: A transition to a strong green economy, defined as a strong economy based on clean and renewable energy, family wage green jobs and equitable outcomes for all members of our community, would result in a stronger tax base with which essential public services can be funded; and
WHEREAS: The AFSCME Green Ribbon Committee has made significant progress in creating tools for members to become more engaged and informed on issues of sustainability and climate change at work and at home.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That all council affiliates in AFSCME support the AFSCME Green Ribbon Committee’s work to make AFSCME a leader on sustainability issues and aid in promoting the AFSCME Green toolkit to support member action for sustainability in their councils and locals; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:
- That AFSCME International and its affiliates reiterate our support for greenhouse gas emission reduction goals recommend by the IPCC.
- Support a nationwide commitment to building and renewing public infrastructure, with public investments in key sectors such as water, energy, waste management, affordable and energy efficient housing, energy retrofitting of buildings, sustainable agriculture, public transportation, health care, and other essential infrastructure.
- In establishing measures to mitigate the impact of climate change, protect the rights of people displaced by the consequences of climate change.
- Call on governments to make major public investments in greening the economy.
- Empower those affected by climate change, including workers, to have meaningful opportunities to be heard and to influence public policy.
- Support workers whose jobs are affected by climate change policies by providing job training and other services to enable them to transition to new jobs; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That AFSCME will work with the AFL-CIO and other allies to make sure our voice is heard at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Mexico in 2010 with the objective of obtaining agreement for the United States to be a signatory in an international climate treaty with legally-binding, science-based greenhouse gas emission reduction targets that match those listed above; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That AFSCME encourage other unions to join us in advocating for a more aggressive greenhouse gas emission reduction strategy at the national and international level; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That AFSCME will support development of, and advocate for, creation of a national renewable power standard of a minimum of 20 percent of electricity via renewable sources by 2020; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That AFSCME identify key staff to act as a sustainability and climate change team, who can be responsible for
- lobbying for climate policy at the national and international level,
- completing a research analysis of how climate change will impact AFSCME members,
- researching the public revenue potential from climate legislation and carbon markets, and
- evaluating existing pension investments for sustainability criteria and aiming to reduce investments in climate-polluting companies and invest instead in sustainable businesses; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED: That council and local affiliates will support state and local government agencies to accelerate and expand their commitment to greenhouse gas emission reduction programs, and encourage them to include specifications for public contracts to include (a) equitable opportunities for green jobs among historically-disadvantaged communities, (b) fair wages and benefits for workers and (c) preference for unionized, local firms.
SUBMITTED BY: Gary Gillespie, President and Delegate Janice Larkin, Secretary and Delegate AFSCME Council 75Oregon