District Council 57

AFSCME Takes Action on All Legislative Levels

 As a union representing public employees at all levels of government, AFSCME fights to protect and support the work our members do every day. This necessarily involves intensive legislative and political activity locally, in Sacramento, and in Washington, D.C. How does this work?

Federal Laws and Funding

The federal government passes a budget every year that funds “entitlement” programs like Medicaid (Medi-Cal), Social Security, Medicare and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; formerly food stamps). And, it sets yearly-appropriated funding levels for “discretionary” programs including K-12 education, community health centers, and subsidized child care. Almost 30% of California’s budget revenue comes from the federal government. Last year, Congress passed and President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, providing California with an estimated $50.7 billion, much of it for Medi-Cal and education. As bad as the state’s budget situation is today, it would be much more dire without this additional funding from the federal government.

AFSCME works with our affiliates to identify congressional candidates who will best represent our members’ and working families’ interests. We support those candidates financially through AFSCME’s PEOPLE program, and through extensive member and staff mobilization. AFSCME lobbies Congress to pass funding and other laws that will benefit our members, including most recently comprehensive health care reform, extended state fiscal aid, and legislation that would provide localities with funding to save and expand jobs.

State Laws and Funding

Who is sitting in the governor’s mansion and in the state legislature, and the decisions they make, are critically important for AFSCME members in Council 57 and across the state. For example, recent corporate tax cuts, along with ill-advised referenda dating back to the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 and the two-third vote requirement needed to pass a budget and the tax increases to finance it have contributed mightily to California’s $45.5 billion budget gap before adoption of the FY 2010 budget and a projected midyear shortfall of $6.6 billion. Instead of addressing its outdated, underfunded, and unfair tax system, state government has implemented mandatory furlough days, salary cuts and hiring freezes.

AFSCME has Legislative and Political staff in Sacramento who work with all of AFSCME’s councils in the state. Together, they decide which candidates AFSCME will support for governor, the state legislature and other state offices, and mobilize leadership, members, and staff to work on behalf of those candidates. They lobby at the state level to protect the interests of AFSCME members wherever they work.

Local Laws and Funding

Most of Council 57’s members work for local government, whether for a county, city, utility, or school district. Local governments are very much affected by federal and state government action.

For example, 
California’s school districts received significant funding from the Recovery Act’s State Fiscal Stabilization Fund,

County-administered programs received additional funding for Medi-Cal, SNAP, foster care and child support enforcement, and;

Cities received some funding through the Community Development Block Grant.

The governor has proposed repeal of the county-administered CalWorks program, and deep cuts to health care, education and other human services programs.

Local 829 members meet with Jerry Hill, California Assemblymember representing the 19th District

Local governments have their own, separate power to govern. County boards of supervisors approve department budgets and appropriate and spend money on a host of programs staffed by AFSCME members that meet county residents’ needs. They can raise local revenue by imposing or increasing a tax, assessment or fee. And, cities and counties adopt local ordinances and regulations which can affect our members, their families and their communities.

AFSCME is therefore involved locally in both politics and lobbying. Our council leadership, members and staff -- with assistance as needed from AFSCME at the state and/or national levels – are engaged in helping to elect local officials who support public employees and who understand the importance of the work they perform. This could involve elections of mayors, city council members, boards of supervisors, or school board members. And, we lobby at the local level to ensure that our members’ interests are protected in budgetary, revenue-raising, governing and other key decisions.

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