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Protest at United Nations fights the separation of immigrant families

Public sector unions have weighed in against Trump’s brutal treatment and policies on migrants, such as separating families, which are filling the coffers of private contractors, for-profit prison companies, military contractors, and NGOs. AFT President Randi Weingarten delivered a formal complaint to the United Nations on June 20, framing the inhumane immigration policy as abusive and trauma-inducing. AFSCME co-signed the complaint to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, with President Lee Saunders saying “this inhumane policy is a cruel choice that does not make us safer, and it does not make us great. There is no law that mandates traumatizing children, only the prerogative of this president.”

Source: American Federation of Teachers

University of California staff staged a three-day strike

University of California staff staged a three-day strike against austerity and privatization to support service workers. “One of the main battles AFSCME workers face is the constant threat of seeing their jobs outsourced to nonunion workers employed by for-profit companies. As the university increasingly privatizes aspects of its operations, workers employed by the institution are always looking over their shoulder, fearful that their jobs will evaporate overnight and they’ll be replaced by workers who answer to a different boss. ‘Every day we’re paying attention to when we see new faces on board,’ said Maricruz Manzanares, a custodian at the University of California at Berkeley. ‘Suddenly we see a new group of workers and we don’t even know who they are, until we talk to each other and the union and we find out they belong to a company. Lately the university has developed shady techniques. They used to do it openly, but now they’re finding ways to do it in the dark.’ Either way, she said, ‘the university does not behave as a public institution.’” Kathryn Lybarger, president of UC AFSCME 3299 and California AFL-CIO reported on the history of the local, on the effort to privatize and outsource university services, and on systemic racism.

Source: www.jacobinmag.com

The Trump Administration's Budget Is a Highway to Privatization

Trump submits the most extreme right wing budget in decades, lining up savage job cuts, a national public asset selloff, and a massive privatization agenda for infrastructure, education, immigration detention (a 66% increase, including for private detention and deportation contractors), and health services. AFSCME President Lee Saunders said “President Trump’s budget is a moral and economic disaster. The cuts proposed in this plan will not only hurt children and the elderly, but also diminish the quality of life for millions of families nationwide, all to give massive tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy. (…) It eliminates or slashes funding for dozens and dozens of programs and services, including infrastructure, transportation, health care, education, and even Social Security. It even punishes those who want to give back to their communities by eliminating a student loan forgiveness program that thousands of public service workers have already planned their household budgets around, and that encourages more young people to pursue careers in public service.”

Source: Common Dreams

Illinois state employees vote to authorize strike

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, the union representing the largest number of Illinois state employees, announces that 81 percent of its members voted to authorize a strike—the first statewide strike ever. AFSCME 31 represents the 38,000 workers who help the disabled, work in state parks, care for veterans, and perform numerous public services. For details on the negotiations, and AFSCME’s fact sheet on the Rauner administration’s “half-truths” on privatization, see its State Contract Information Center.

Source: www.afscme31.org

Trump’s federal hiring freeze will cost taxpayers and hurt Americans, Fed unions say

: Donald Trump has imposed a federal hiring freeze, prompting warnings that vital public service jobs will go unfilled. “‘President Trump’s action will disrupt government programs and services that benefit everyone and actually increase taxpayer costs by forcing agencies to hire more expensive contractors to do work that civilian government employees are already doing for far less,’ AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. ‘We're disappointed but not surprised by President Trump's attack on federal workers,’ said AFSCME Council 26 Executive Director Carl Goldman. AFSCME said the freeze will make federal agencies less effective, hurting people and communities that depend on efficient public services. ‘You can’t make America great by undermining those who’ve dedicated their careers to serving America,’ said AFSCME president Lee Saunders.”

Source: Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO

It’s About Time – Federal Government to End Use of For-Profit Prison Operators

PSI affiliate AFSCME applauds the Justice Department’s decision to end the use of private, for-profit firms to run America’s federal prisons. The announcement, by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, was made in a memo reported by the Washington Post. Yates wrote that – compared to facilities operated by the federal Bureau of Prisons – privately run prisons “simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security.”

Source: www.world-psi.org

A contract impasse between Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and public sector workers has turned bitter

A contract impasse between Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and public sector workers has turned bitter, with Rauner turning to the state labor board to force through an arbitration bill. The state’s contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) expired in June 2015. “An AFSCME statement says that in asking the Illinois Labor Relations Board to declare the contract at impasse, Rauner is seeking to unilaterally impose demands ‘including doubling what employees must pay for health care, freezing their wages for four years and eliminating protections that prevent irresponsible privatization schemes.’”

Source: The State Journal

Canada & USA North America Binational Meeting Report

The PSI North America Binational meeting was held on March 4, 2016 in Ottawa and hosted by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). Robyn Benson (PSAC), the Canadian titular, and Candice Owley (American Federation of Teachers-AFT), the United States titular, co-chaired the meeting. This meeting followed the Canadian SUBRAC and the United States SUBRAC, both held on March 3, 2016.

Source: PSI