A team of elected delegates, alternates and guests from the Librarians' Guild are participating in this week's AFSCME International Conference in Chicago, Illinois.
Some great resolutions have been introduced on the convention floor which deal with topics such as the student debt crisis; the lack of transparency of governments handing out corporate welfare subsidies to businesses; and (importantly) a resolution to consider access to libraries a human right.
Moving on, our membership ranks have increased: In January, AFSCME challenged its members to increase the international union's membership by at least 50,000 new members in time for the Convention. This challenge was a response to the successful assault in Wisconsin and Michigan on worker's rights to collectively bargain and unionize. Well, good news to report: New membership increased by over 92,000 members!
At the conference we have networked and participated in some great conversations with fellow AFSCME members around the country. Unfortunately, we are hearing about major problems and attacks on their unions, on the services they provide, and IN LIBRARIES how staffing levels are far below safety and service numbers, just like LAPL.
In Tacoma, WA, library branches have actually been closed, willingly and almost enthusiastically, by city leaders due to low staffing levels. In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel (who public workers here call "Emperor Rahm") laid off all of Chicago Public Libary's MCs. Yes, you read that right. Only a serious grass-roots community effort forced the Emperor to hire them back. By the way, Rahm is a Democrat who used to be President Obama's Chief of Staff...
On an entirely different note, there are thousands of delegates and other participants at the conference, and everyone marched this Wednesday in support of exploited Chicago taxi drivers. Due to aggressive policies by Emperor Rahm, most registered cabbies only receive about 20k/year -- a figure which would put a family of four below the poverty line. Even worse, they have been subjected to new Rahm taxes, regulation and tickets on their profession, reducing their take home pay even further.
The march was loud and fun and covered in the local news. Over 1000 cabbies have signed union membership cards with AFSCME, and the union has pledged to back them up and fight the Mayor's promotion of unlicensed ride-sharing services which amount to unlicensed and uninsured cab drivers.
That's it for now. We will share more in future.