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Attacks on public sector unions could place Black workers at risk

New report spells out local threats

OW Staff Writer | 1/17/2019, midnight

“For me, my job helps me take care of my family of four without struggling,” says Tiffany Hall, an LAPD 911 Dispatcher and a member of AFSCME 3090. “I’ve been working since I was 15, and this is the first job that has helped me become self-sustaining. This is also my first union job. It’s allowed me to save money and pay off all my debt. My husband stays at home to care for our two children, and it gives me time to participate in the union more. The union benefits me in that it helps me keep my job, promote and makes me feel secure. It also benefits us all as a whole.”

The report comprises 24-question surveys conducted with 730 Black workers, including 549 in the public sector and 181 employed in the private sector. Six unions facilitated contact with their members: AFSCME 741, AFSCME 2325, AFSCME 3090, AFSCME 3947, SEIU 721, and SEIU 1000.

“Black workers in public service help their communities every day when they go to work,” said Michael Green, regional director for Service Employees International Union Local 721, “and then they help them out again when they bring middle-class incomes and stability home with them afterwards.”

The report was sent alongside an open letter (http://thelafed.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/open_letter.pdf) to City and County policymakers, inviting collaboration on the development of programs to ensure access to public employment.

“The clear message to local leaders and voters is that strengthening public sector employment and creating pipelines for our Black community to access those jobs pays enormous dividends,” said Rusty Hicks, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. “The message to the forces campaigning to threaten these jobs is that we take your attacks personally. And you can expect us to fight back.”