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A Busy Summer for AFSCME Retirees

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By Pablo Ros Your Union Retirees

AFSCME retirees founded three new chapters this summer – in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Memphis, Tennessee.

By joining together, they will fight back attacks on their retirement security, protect public services and elect public officials who stand up for working families. And they will be living proof that AFSCME members are lifelong activists who never quit on their communities or their union.

Before retiring in 2012, Kate Monfort was program manager for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and had served as president of AFSCME Local 1902. She looked forward to enjoying her free time as a retiree. Then a couple of years ago, she decided to join an effort underway to create retiree chapter 1902.

AFSCME Retiree Chapter 1902 (Photos by Terri Brady and Ben Hodapp)
AFSCME Retiree Chapter 1902 (Photos by Terri Brady and Ben Hodapp)

“They didn’t have anyone on the organizing committee who’d had labor activist experience or even union officer experience,” she said. “So that’s when I decided to step up and work hard on this.”

AFSCME Retiree Chapter 1902 was founded in Los Angeles, and Monfort was elected president.

“While there’s some relief that we accomplished this goal, it made me realize that there’s a lot more things we need to accomplish and that we need to get started working on,” she said. “We need to grow our membership, that’s a big goal. Next, we want to secure our access to dental insurance through the program that Metropolitan provides their employees. We also want to raise awareness and promote political activism.”

It’s been an equally busy few months for members of AFSCME retiree chapter 3930, founded in San Diego.

AFSCME Retiree Chapter 3930
AFSCME Retiree Chapter 3930

Richard Lawrence, who retired from United Domestic Workers (UDW) AFSCME Local 3930 in December, is its new president. He attended the chapter’s founding convention and was encouraged to run for office.

“I had just retired and wasn’t looking to be all that involved, but I’m glad I did it,” he said. “I can still be active with UDW and still take part and reach out to members.”

Among the chapter’s priorities, Lawrence said, are to increase membership to strengthen the chapter and help fight back attacks against home care providers.

“UDW Local 3930 is in for a huge fight,” he said. “A few years ago, they hit us with Harris v. Quinn and we were able to get stronger.” This year, he continued, it’s paycheck deception and other attacks against the union.

“As retirees, we often have a little more time on our hands than people actually working,” he reflected. “And I think with age people have respect for those of us who are a little bit older and wiser.”

The chapter also wants to get people to vote in the midterms, retirees and young people alike.

Retiree chapter 1733 in Memphis, Tennessee, was the third chapter founded this summer, on the 50th anniversary of the sanitation workers’ strike. Charlette Johnson was elected president.

AFSCME Retiree Chapter 1733
AFSCME Retiree Chapter 1733