WE ARE AFSCME.
THE UNION THAT NEVER QUITS.
IMPORTANT UPDATES FOR AFSCME MEMBERS
— December 22, 2020 —
Dear AFSCME Members . . .
We wanted to bring you up to date on several recent developments that are vital to all of us.
First, is the all-important battle to halt the spread of the coronavirus. For nearly a year now the virus has ravaged our workplaces, our communities and our homes — taking a devastating toll on the lives of so many.
AFSCME members have been on the front lines at worksites all across the state. And our union has worked without stop to ensure that employers are following recommended guidance to protect employees’ health and safety. We’ve fought to extend paid time off when COVID strikes, to expand opportunities to work remotely and to reduce ancillary health care costs related to COVID.
We’ve seen up close the trauma and suffering that COVID can bring. This brief video powerfully conveys the experiences of so many union members who have daily come face-to-face with the virus: https://vimeo.com/490191063/ba7d6f62f7.
The video’s message is clear and compelling, and particularly important this holiday season: Don’t let your guard down — not at work, not at home. Stay safe — and keep your family safe too!
Vaccinations Get Underway
Remember, there is light at the end of this very dark tunnel. Vaccinations of health care workers are getting underway in hospitals across the state — and employees and residents of long-term care facilities will be next.
AFSCME strongly encourages all union members to be vaccinated. It is the best hope we have to safeguard our health and our lives. The CDC has not recommended at this time that vaccines be mandatory — and there is no reason for employers to mandate. Currently, there are millions of people who urgently want to be vaccinated who can’t yet access the vaccine. Let’s make those people our country’s priority.
Flawed Stimulus Bill
The battle against the coronavirus is also being fought in the U.S. Congress. The pandemic has had a disastrous impact on our nation’s economy — with many businesses shuttered and millions of workers laid off.
State and local governments have been especially hard hit. Over the past year, Congress passed two measures that provided expanded time-off rights and financial aid to struggling families. But both are now expiring — and for months Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has blocked passage of another COVID Stimulus bill. McConnell was adamant that there would be no federal assistance to state and local governments.
Finally, just days ago, as unemployment insurance was running out for millions of Americans, a compromise bill was adopted. Unfortunately, it is a very flawed compromise as it will provide only a very small amount of aid to those in need — and virtually no aid at all to state and local governments.
Illinois Fiscal Crisis — Cutbacks Loom
This means that Illinois’ fiscal crisis is only going to get worse — a lot worse. Governor Pritzker tried to chart a path forward by bringing Illinois in line with the kind of graduated tax system that the federal government and 35 other states have. His plan would have raised $3 billion by only taxing the wealthiest 3% of Illinois residents.
But instead, the state’s wealthy elite sold voters a flim-flam scheme that culminated in the defeat of the Fair Tax ballot amendment that would have allowed for higher taxes on the rich.
The Bruce Rauners, Ken Griffins and Sam Zells of the world could care less for the fate of our state — for the vital public services on which so many rely, for the public sector jobs that sustain communities, for the schools and universities on which the future depends. The wealthy elite won their fight against a fair tax system; for the rest of us, the fight has barely begun. Already some politicians are pushing for layoffs, program cutbacks, or employee concessions.
Only Remedy Is New Revenue
The state — and many local governments as well — are suffering from disastrous revenue shortfalls that cannot be remedied by cutting spending. The only remedy for such a large shortfall is to raise additional revenue.
AFSCME helped lead the fight for the Fair Tax — and now we’re working with other unions to shape a new revenue-raising plan. It won’t be easy, but after all that we’ve been through over the past year, we won’t be deterred. The stakes are too high to stop now.