Here’s a trio of union news nuggets from AFSCME locals in Kansas and Connecticut and Sheet Metal Workers in Pennsylvania.
Some 7,000 licensed and registered home child care providers won their first contract with the state last month. The workers mobilized in 2007 to form the Child Care Providers Together Kansas (CCPT)/AFSCME.
The contract establishes the framework for strengthening ties between the providers, two state agencies and the legislature. Specifically, it adopts a list of provider rights and sets guidelines for licensing, professional development and the payment process.
In addition, the state agencies involved in overseeing child care agreed to work with CCPT to gain support in the state legislature to increase the rate of subsidies that have not been raised since 2002.
Scott Keller, who runs a group child care home in Wichita and is president of Kansas CCPT Local 644, says the contract “gives us a voice.”
As we move forward and the membership continues to grow, we will have an impact on important regulatory and legislative issues.
Meanwhile in Connecticut, 5,000 state corrections workers protected their contract against a move by Gov. M. Jodi Rell (R) to block the pay raises due them. The workers, members of AFSCME Council 4, won the raises after contract talks failed last year and negotiations went into arbitration.
Rell—who prefaced her call for a rollback with praise for the dangerous work the corrections officers perform—pushed to have the state legislature overturn the pay increases.
But the union members fought back. They attended legislative hearings, made phone calls, sent postcards and e-mail mesages and even launched a three-week TV ad campaign, “Proud to Serve.” The Republican-led efforts to table the award in the U.S. House of Representatives failed. Says John Pepe, president of AFSCME Local 391:
Legislators saw that acknowledging the critical importance of our work on one hand, and trying to kill the contract on the other, was duplicitous and wrong.
In Allentown Pa., Sheet Metal Workers (SMWIA) Local 19 helped to develop new training standards to ensure quality heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) work is performed in the city. The city council adopted the standards earlier this month.
Local 19’s William Dorward told WFMZ-TV electricians and plumbers already must meet training standards before working in the city, but there’s nothing on the books to ensure that all HVAC workers are as trained and qualified as Local 19’s members.
We didn’t have anything in place for the quality of the air we breath. So it became a necessary issue.
Joe Sellers, Local 19’s president and business manager, says the union’s members have received quality training and education through its programs for decades.
We have developed one of the most thorough and comprehensive training programs in the entire nation….Our program develops skilled sheet metal apprentices and journeypersons who are competent in all aspects of our trade and are able to work safely without close supervision.