A Strong Ratification Campaign Can Add Hundreds of New Members

Over two days in early March, AFSCME Local 1279 brought to a vote a new multi-year contract with their employer, the city of Jacksonville, Florida. For years, too many years, the city’s budget had been balanced on the backs of working families. Though their commitment to serving their communities never wavered, it was tough to keep up with the rising cost of living when their pay never moved for almost eight years. And the strength of the Local suffered along with the members.

But the new contract looked to end that issue with a 3% wage increase this fiscal year and pay increases of 5% in 2018 and 4.5% in both 2019 and 2020. Part-time and temporary workers were not left out with pay increases in the same range of those for full-time employees.

“We were very proud of this contract and knew that the most important thing was to ensure all workers were aware of it and their opportunity to vote yes on it,” said Local 1279 President Victor Jackson, who has a city employee for 29 years and works as a franchise investigator in the public works department. “Moreover, we knew this was a chance to show our coworkers how AFSCME was working for them and their families and why a stronger voice could keep the momentum going.”

Over two days and across six voting locations, more than 738 workers made their voice heard and an overwhelming 94% of them said yes. Mailers, flyers, site-visits, phone calls and house visits helped to drive the turnout.

And the ratification campaign sparked a huge increase in membership. In just a two-week period the Local grew by 210 new members, with 501 hardworking City of Jacksonville employees now proudly adding their voice to their ongoing efforts.

Vicki Lenard, a 15-year employee with the city’s library system, said the ratification was importation to allow her employees to keep up with rising costs across the economy.

Donna Faye Wilkerson, who works in the senior services division, said the next step will be to keep engaged make sure that the contract is enforced, members are treated fairly and their careers are respected.