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For Immediate Release

Monday, July 16, 2018

AFSCME Members Kick Off 43rd International Convention

Following Supreme Court ruling against working people, thousands of activists rally together under “Rise Up” theme


The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) gaveled in its 43rd convention on Monday, with more than 5,000 activists from around the country convening at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center to rally, learn new organizing skills and chart the course of one of America’s largest public service unions.

The convention marks the first major gathering of AFSCME’s leaders and activists since a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 rendered the entire public sector “right to work.”

“Time and time again throughout our history, our union has stared down adversity and prevailed,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “AFSCME has been around for more than 80 years, and we will be here 80 years from now. Our enemies can't take our union away from us. They don't get to write our next chapter. We do.” 

In the days following the June 27 Supreme Court decision, even in the face of an onslaught of well-funded attacks by right-wing groups aimed at convincing public service workers to drop their unions, non-members choosing to join AFSCME outnumbered members leaving the union by a more than two-to-one margin. Through the AFSCME Strong organizing program, activists have held more than 950,000 organizing conversations with members and non-members about the value of union membership, and since 2016, more than 18,000 new members in public service professions ranging from paramedics and public defenders to bus drivers and sanitation workers have organized their workplaces to join the AFSCME family.

Through the “Rise Up Institute,” activists at this year’s convention will gain advanced new organizing skills to take back to their communities and workplaces, as the union and its affiliates across the country turn their focus to external organizing campaigns.

AFSCME activists and leaders will be joined in Boston by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry, and National Education Association Secretary-Treasurer Princess Moss.

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