We Oppose Charlottesville Racist Acts

We Oppose Charlottesville Racist Acts

First of all, our prayers go out to those that were injured today in Charlottesville, Virginia and to the family of the person killed there.

The cowardly act  in Charlottesville that left one person dead and 19 injured is reprehensible and indicative of the worst in our society. White supremacist organizers of the planned noontime rally were the backdrop and the foundation for what happened there today.

While they claim concern for the removal of a confederate statue was the impetus for their rally, the right wing has a long history of divisive and racist acts that would attempt to take our nation in an apartheid-like direction. Catch phrases reported by local Charlottesville media from the Ku Klux Klan’s David Duke as ‘the first step toward taking America back’ are pretty clear statements  about removing 20th century gains made by people of color, gays, women and others in our nation.

The divisive rhetoric and policies of our current President and unreported experiences of many people of color, victimized by racist acts since the election, help give these thugs a sense that they can now openly organize and attack progressive forces.

Those of us that see the importance of unifying our nation, so that we will continue to be a beacon of hope and a light of liberty for the world, know that we have to speak out when we see injustice like this occurring. However, it is not enough to just raise our voices, we must continue to organize and show by example we embrace the idea of the ‘beloved community’ that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described, lead the movement to try and realize and for which he ultimately gave his life.

We know that the purveyors of white supremacy will not stop because one event was cancelled and we hear they have pledged to continue their struggle.

Brothers and Sisters in organized labor have long been in the fight against those that would try to roll back the clock in America, to a time when labor was exploited and rights were nonexistent.

We believe in a phase popularized in a song during the civil right movement, “we shall not be moved.”

And so our struggle for jobs, peace and freedom continues and we believe that love and unity are the keys to our success as a nation. We stand with those that stand for these values and pray that more will come to see this light.

International Ruling on DROP Action

International Ruling on DROP Action

Brothers and Sisters:

AFSCME International issued a reprimand against me concerning the DROP Program settlement I signed in October, 2016. Local 2187 accused me of colluding with the City and improperly making that agreement with them, and that Local 2187 should have been able to bring the DROP settlement agreement to their members for a vote. The Judicial Panel Chairman ruled that I did not collude with the City. He did rule, “the DROP settlement should have been brought back to the membership for a ratification vote.” 
If a case like this should ever happen again, I will do what I usually do during contract negotiations and bring it back to the members for ratification.
The Judicial hearing officer found that this was a unique situation. Sister Cathy Scott testified that this was like other unfair labor practice settlements. The hearing officer said, “Although Sister Scott testified that in the past all reductions in pension benefits were brought to the membership for a ratification vote, no evidence was submitted at trial in the present case which elaborates on this claim.”
Also, I had earlier sought guidance from the International about my ability to take action concerning arbitration and unfair labor practices. That letter from AFSCME Eastern Regional Director James Howell said, “based on the District Council Constitution, it appears that the processing of grievances, arbitrations and  unfair labor practices falls within the purview of Council, and as such Council is authorized to decide how such matters are presented, tried and administered.”
My interpretation of that and legal advice led me to take action to adopt the DROP agreement with the City, after having previously consulted with the leadership of Locals 810, 2186 and 2187. 
Local 2187 was opposed to my decision and they took this matter to the International in February, which led to this ruling. 

In Solidarity,
Fredrick Wright, President
AFSCME District Council 47

DC 47 Negotiation Update

DC 47 Negotiation Update

Sisters and Brothers:

Just want to keep you informed about our negotiations and to address some of the concerns raised by some Brothers and Sisters about our negotiations.
Let me first tell you that we are waiting on the City to give us additional dates to meet, concerning the contracts for Locals 810, 2186 and 2187. Keep in mind that people are on vacation during the summer and sometimes are not as readily available to meet. Additionally, contact talks with Police and Firefighters, which are now in arbitration, have placed the City in a wait-and-see posture.

The issue of when I began talks with the City has been raised, implying that we could have moved forward sooner. I notified the City of Philadelphia about our intent to negotiate a new CBA in August, 2016. I received a first draft of Local 2186 & 2187’s contract proposals on March 24th. The final draft of the proposals were not ready until May 24th. We began negotiations with the City on June 2nd, and at that time I submitted dates of availability for the union in June.

The leadership of Local 2187 requested to have contract negotiations broken down in subcommittees to deal with issues such as health & safety, contracting out, IT, policy, personnel, pensions, as well as health and welfare. The Union submitted our list of subcommittee members and chairs to the City, and is awaiting the list of City representatives.

I am responsible for leading the negotiations between the City and District Council 47 Locals. There are some that may believe that they should be in charge of these negotiations and they have complained to AFSCME International about the way I am handling the negotiation process. Leaders must lead, and since I have been elected into this position, I believe that I must do that and I have done it, while seeking input from the leadership of the Locals. As I have mentioned many times, we must remain united in this effort to get a contract for Brothers and Sisters in City Locals. Continued infighting only shifts our focus from getting that job done.

I hope that you will support me in keeping up a united front in these contract talks. While some would like to see me removed from my position as your chief negotiator, I believe it would send the wrong message and undermine what we are trying to do.

In the meantime, I continue to seek input from the Locals, so that we can respond to proposals by the City, as well as be prepared to continue to fight for the best contract we can get from them. If we unite in this struggle, we will get a fair and equitable contract. Stay connected and/or contact me through dc47union.org for up-to-date information.