Carmen Flores of Local 1549 (New York DC 37)

by Clyde Weiss | AFSCME

LOS ANGELES — Waving “Respect!” signs and chanting “We’re fired up, won’t take it no more,” thousands of AFSCME delegates rallied in MacArthur Park with their California sisters and brothers, calling attention to the fight for public service employees here and across America.

“The work we do, like the work that all of you do, is absolutely essential,” said Kathryn Lybarger, a gardener at U.C. Berkeley and president of Local 3299, which is entering into negotiations with the University of California System soon. “We’re ready to fight for what we all deserve.”

Local 3299 and other AFSCME unions are fighting cuts to public services statewide. Mike Milliner, executive board member of Local 1902, said his co-workers in the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California are using “our political power to make a huge difference.”

”You might say that we water workers are making waves. In the political races that affect our future, candidates we supported won nine out of 11 races in the past year. With them in office, we’ve finally got a seat at the table.”

Annette Norwood Dunlap, a clinical care provider at Santa Monica Hospital and a member of Local 3299, said they are fighting at the bargaining table for adequate hospital staffing. It’s a personal fight for Dunlap, who begins radiation treatments this week to fight cervical cancer. Decent patient care, provided by quality public workers is crucial, she said. “I am going to continue this fight.”

Also speaking at the rally were AFSCME Pres. Gerald W. McEntee, Sec.-Treas. Lee Saunders, District Council 36 Pres. Alice Goff and Laura Reyes, president of UDW/Local 3930 and an IVP.

Watch video from the rally here: