By MIKE LEE
More than 100 DC 37 activists and leaders recently participated in Local Union Leadership Academy training sessions at union headquarters to sharpen skills needed to solve problems in the workplace and to engage and empower members.
Among those in attendance were representatives from Locals 154, 768, 957, 1251, 1113, 1321 and 1655.
The Leadership Academy is part of an ambitious, on-going effort to fortify our union at a time when a Supreme Court case threatens the freedom of American public sector workers.
Stressing the importance of preparing leaders and key members for intensive work ahead, Grievance Rep Natasha Isma said, “This training is essential. It is your role as an activist to explain our history, and our benefits. You must share that—teach that. This is your call to action, and your efforts will make a difference for our members.”
DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido told the crowd, “We need to send a message to the Koch brothers and their supporters. They may have the money, but we have the people.”
“I am excited by our energy, because there is an epic battle coming to this country about what this America is all about,” Garrido said. “Will this be an America for the billionaires? Or will this be a country that represents the workers–the people who do the work in maintaining this society.”
Diallo Shabazz, administrator of the DC 37 Education Fund, who helped organize the sessions, said, “We have been preparing. We must talk about the value of the union, and we have these benefits in the Education Fund in place for people.”
Elissa McBride, secretary-treasurer of DC 37,’s national union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, updated Academy attendees on aspects of AFSCME’s push to engage members nationwide.
Local 768 President Fitz Reid praised the mission of the Academy. “Worker education and organizing are the two main tools we, as a union, must have to build and defend our members in the future,” he said. “This is a time where this is training is an imperative.”
Barbara Edmonds, DC 37’s director of field operations, thanked DC37 staff for enhancing the Academy’s success.
“We are ready to face the challenges ahead and continuing the tradition of providing the quality services DC 37 is known for,” she said.