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‘Our stories are powerful tools’: Secretary-Treasurer McBride delivers convention keynote

By AFSCME Staff ·

Our stories as public service workers, union members and activists are powerful tools that we must deploy to our greatest advantage, AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Elissa McBride said at our union’s 45th International Convention.  

Delivering her keynote address to AFSCME delegates on Tuesday, McBride said our stories “are one of our most powerful tools as union leaders,” adding that we tell them to “stay connected to each other, to share our vision and goals, to inspire activism, to bring our values to life, and to strengthen and grow our union.” 

McBride relied on the teachings of Marshall Ganz, an activist and organizer who worked side-by-side with Cesar Chavez, to make her case. She encouraged her audience to consider three kinds of stories – the story of self, the story of us, and the story of now.

“Each of you in this room has an incredible story of self. Or many! A story of what led you to public service, a story of what sparked you to become an activist,” she said. “The story of self is your personal leadership story…Those stories have tremendous power to build support for public services.”

The story of us is the story of who we are as a union. McBride said she thinks of the essays that AFSCME receives each year from our union members’ children and grandchildren as part of the AFSCME Family Scholarship competition.  

Such essays are a testament to the difference that our union makes in the lives of AFSCME members and their families.

“There are so many ways to tell the story of us,” McBride said. “Through our priorities as a union, through our union’s history of standing up for economic, racial and social justice, through the difference our union makes in wages, working conditions and quality of life for workers and our families. 

The story of now is the story of what we do every day to make a difference.

“We all have a leadership role and a story to tell,” she explained. “Now is the time to run for elected office. Now is the time to support an AFSCME member who is running. … And now is the time to get out the union vote!”   

McBride encouraged delegates to reflect on the stories that make them who they are as public service workers, union member and activists, and to share those stories to make themselves and their union stronger.

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