Back-to-School Time Is AFSCME Time

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The smell of fresh coffee mixed with freshly painted hallways. The sound of classroom bells being tested reverberated along with the sound of the band getting another practice session in. Everywhere you looked this week at Hialeah Gardens Senior High School, it was clear that summer is ending and another school year is upon us.

For the members of AFSCME Local 1184, that means this week was the best opportunity to talk with their co-workers about why they should join the union.

The high school was just one of the many locations where tables full of AFSCME literature, buttons and t-shirts, along with membership cards, PEOPLE forms and smiling faces could be seen as local leaders went to various orientation and training held before the first day of classes.

This year there’s a lot at stake for the food service workers, custodial service technicians, transportation staff and all the other women and men who help keep Miami-Dade County Schools a great place to learn.

“This is a year of change in our union and that includes here in Local 1184,” said Vicki Hall, the newly elected president and an employee in the transportation department. “With this being a contract year we really need all of our co-workers to stand with us so we can fight for paychecks that feed our families.”

Other critical issues in the upcoming negotiations include meeting the district’s custodial and transportation needs while protecting members’ jobs by blocking all attempts to convert full-time positions to part-time ones or outsourcing them altogether, Hall said.

With more than 350,000 students spread across more than 400 campuses in the fourth largest school district in the nation, these back-to-school sessions are critical for the union to show the value of uniting for prospective members.

“I believe in results and I’ve been seeing how this union has been working with us and that means it is something worth being a part of,” said Pete Perilus, a food and nutrition worker as he signed his membership card.

While the nearly 40 new members and PEOPLE contributors who signed up during the back-to-school blitz are important, the connections made through one-on-one conversations, new leaders identified and the message sent that members are ready for contract negotiations are invaluable and will pay dividends for months to come.

“This is how we win: day by day, one by one, showing that we are here, we are listening and this team is ready to go,” said Terry Haynes, a custodial services member and senior vice president for Local 1184.