Breaking Down AFSCME Silos Across Jacksonville

We dig into the issues our coworkers face, explore opportunities to build our local, enforce our contract and grow our voice on the job. But as we do this we can easily forget that our worksites are often near those of other AFSCME locals, that our communities are home to members from many difference locals and that someone else may already have come up with solution to the problem we are struggling with. 

We don’t mean to build silos between locals but they can easily develop. That is why the leadership of AFSCME Florida locals across the Jacksonville area have begun meeting once a month to maximize the experience, ideas and capacity that exists.

“It is easy to think that the issues we face at work, from signing up coworkers or dealing with contract issues, are completely unique to us,” said Elton Brown, president of AFSCME Local 2941 whose members work for the Duval County Public Schools. “But with these meetings you find that most of what you deal with is similar to what others are working on as well.”

“If two heads are better than one, then more why not bring in even more of the knowledge and ideas that can be found just here in Jacksonville within our AFSCME brothers and sisters to help you when you’ve hit a wall with something,” added Marlene Pauldo, recording secretary with AFSCME Local 2941.

At the meetings, the member leaders bring their questions and their ideas to the group on how to handle issues in bargaining, contract enforcement, membership growth, area political and legislative issues and even how to build AFSCME camaraderie around town.

“It has happened to all of us more than once already that we realize that the guy you see at the grocery store or who lives a couple blocks away from you, well he is an AFSCME member too and so you have a shared connection right there and a shared stake in things happening to your community,” said Mallory Kenney, president of AFSCME Local 1487 whose members work for the Jacksonville Housing Authority.

One of the ways the group is working to build AFSCME connection amongst all the membership is with a summer cookout to be held in August.

“We are going to be bringing together all of our members, their families and even inviting our non-member coworkers so they can get to know who we are as people and coworkers and why we are so passionate about them joining us as members themselves,” said Mary Blocker-Williams, vice president of AFSCME Local 1328, UF Health Jacksonville.

“Once your viewpoint changes and you see a challenge or opportunity and not just think of how it impacts your coworkers but how it can impact every AFSCME member, it really opens your eyes to all that can be possible,” said Ben Carder, vice president with AFSCME Local 1279.