US Senate Hopefuls Laud Unions at the 2023 AFSCME PEOPLE Convention 

By Larry Gates

In mid-October, San Diego hosted the 2023 Public Employees Organized to Promote Legislative Equality or PEOPLE convention. Alongside our Political Legislative Action Committee Chair Derek Bryson and AFSCME Local 3090 Secretary-Treasurer Rickk Montoya, I attended the event as a delegate. It was interesting to hear about the process and the benefits of having political advocates work so closely with Labor. We met several of our fellow AFSCME brothers and sisters from around the state and heard from state Senate candidates including U.S. Representatives Adam Schiff, Katie Porter, and Barbara Lee.  

“The challenge with our economy today is not that people aren’t working. The challenge to our economy today is that people are working, and they just can’t make enough to get by,” Adam Schiff said. “Here’s the thing: we are not a poor country. We could do better than this. And we have to do better than this. And it starts by paying people better. It starts by making it easier for working people to organize, to form a union and to collectively bargain.” 

Katie Porter, meanwhile, took a stand against privatizing public services. 

“It is really important to me that we stand against any efforts to privatize public functions. The work that you do is public for a reason. You are delivering services that should not have a profit motive. That is the important work you do,” Porter said. “And so, when I hear about efforts to privatize these core government functions, what I hear is an effort to line the pockets of big corporations at the expense of our democracy and our communities.” 

Barbara Lee said that unions have made the middle class possible.  

“I just want to thank you, AFSCME, for staying the course because it’s so important that California leads the charge to unionize … because if we unionize California, we will be able to unionize the rest of the country,” Lee said. “The PRO Act is a bill that I know all of us are supporting, but we’ve got to make sure that we stop these ‘right-to-work’ laws because they are set up to union bust … and we know that the right to organize has been the only real way into the middle class for so many.” 

If you’re interested in learning more about how PEOPLE fights to secure the best wages, benefits and working conditions for our members, visit the Helpful Links page of our website for information on AFSCME California. 

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