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Mandy Roberts-Amo is a teacher’s assistant at an elementary school in upstate New York, where she helps a legally blind child get through his day. His name is Jonathan. To Mandy, helping Jonathan learn and improve is more than a job, it’s a calling. And that’s in part because to her Jonathan is more than a student.

On Sept. 11, 2001, we as a nation faced a tragedy unique in our history.

The day after he was released from a hospital, a bruised and swollen Kelvin Chung told a state Senate committee that state employees like him need collective bargaining rights to advocate for safety on the job. “I want you to see my face. We need a voice on the job, so this doesn't happen again to anyone else,” said Chung, a corrections officer.

In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy battered the east coast of the United States, causing billions of dollars in damage across 24 states. The hurricane quickly became known in the impacted region as “Superstorm Sandy.”

Shileen Shaw knows firsthand how the storm got that name.

“We had never seen anything like it,” says Shaw, recalling the damage her East Orange, New Jersey, home suffered at the time.

Workers Memorial Day is this Sunday, April 28, when we honor workers killed or injured on the job. On this day in 1971, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was formed.

For almost half a century, OSHA has been charged with helping to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for men and women across this country. But under the Trump administration, OSHA is failing us. As we observe Workers Memorial Day, it’s clear that we can do more – much more – for worker safety.

Megha Desai is a public defender in Multnomah County, Oregon. In a given week, she might work upwards of 60 hours. Right now, she has about 145 open cases.

“It's like a conveyor belt. Every day you work on your assigned cases, new ones roll in,” said Desai, a member of Local 2805 (Council 75). “There's a joke in the office: If you don't come in on the weekends, you’re screwed for the next week.”

The first weekend of April was an exception: It was her wedding. 

All-knowing sources of information. Tour guides to the highways and byways of history. The friendly voice of a morning story time. If that’s all you think of when you think of your library staff, you’d do well to meet some of AFSCME’s library workers, whose reach goes far beyond their libraries’ walls.

Today is National Library Workers Day, when we honor those professionals who keep our libraries running: librarians, technicians and other staff, including custodians, security and maintenance workers.

Fifty-one years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. traveled to Memphis to help rally the community around 1,300 AFSCME sanitation workers who had gone on strike.

In the 1980s, I was living and going to school in Minnesota when women who worked for state government won a big victory. They got the state to increase the pay of women in “female dominated jobs” by passing a pay equity bill. In other words, they put a dent in the gender pay gap. As a student, I researched and wrote about the process of crafting, passing and implementing that legislation. And I learned something that I have never forgotten: the union made it happen. And not just any union. Our union: AFSCME. 

Our union gained more than 9,000 dues-paying members and nearly 19,000 dues-paying retirees in the last year, suggesting that billionaires and corporations are failing in their effort to “defund and defang” public service unions.