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AFSCME International President Lee Saunders Speaks at Kona Section 8

Click to view the slideshow of the Section 8 meeting, featuring an excerpt of AFSCME International President Lee Saunders' speech that day.
AFSCME International President Lee Saunders Speaks at Kona Section 8

Bronson Avenue who works with Kona Parks said it was good hearing from President Saunders

The recent AFSCME Study Tour to Washington DC had such an impression on Hawaii Division Delegate Eddie Heu that he was moved to extend the hand of Aloha to AFSCME International President Lee Saunders, inviting him for a tour of Hawaii Island and to enjoy some local food. “The study tour really opened my eyes to everything AFSCME does for us, and I’m honored that President Saunders took the invitation to come here and share his Mana’o with members from Hawaii Island. I got plenty good feedback from members who attended. They didn’t really know what was happening with the Harris v. Quinn case, and what was going on in Wisconsin, Florida and different states getting hit by anti-union groups,” said Eddie.

click below to view video from the Section 8 meeting

President Saunders arrived in Kona on May 5 for a Section 8 meeting at the Old Kona Airport on Tuesday, May 6. he spoke about the plan AFSCME has to strengthen our Union locally and nationally. The plan, coming out of a leadership conference in Baltimore last January, takes a 4-pillar approach to focus on:

1. Strengthening our foundation with local unions.

2. Growing the union by organizing the unorganized.

3. Building political power.

4. Strengthening the union through coalitions and allies.

With another political season underway, President Saunders reminded us, “We can vote out those who are trying to take us out, and we can vote in people who share our values and share our commitment and dedication to our community and public service. We can do that, but we’ve got to engage our members in doing it. We’ve got to engage our members so they vote, they knock on those doors, they make those phone calls, they talk to their neighbors and their friends.” In building our political power, President Saunders also reminded us about the importance of strengthening our foundation by recruiting new members, signing up service fee payers for membership, and strengthening our partnerships with like-minded community organizations.

After the meeting we had a chance to follow up with members in attendance. Bronson Avenue who works with Kona Parks said it was good hearing from President Saunders. In speaking about collective bargaining rights being stripped in Wisconsin, Bronson said, “Main thing they [AFSCME] back us up…'cause what they [anti-union groups] are doing to Wisconsin is ridiculous.”

“We cannot have that, I get family,” chimed in member Justin Santana who works for the County of Hawaii, Honoka'a Roads. “I need my Union fo’ back me up!”

We also had a chance to speak with member Roger Acdal who is actively working to organize his baseyard in signing up for the AFSCME PEOPLE program. He said he and members from his baseyard came all the way from the Waimea/Hamakua area to hear President Saunders speak.

Finally, members of our Hawaii Division Board helped Eddie make good on his promise of some local grinds and a tour. Hawaii Division Board members took President Saunders holoholo up through Kohala, all the way to Pololu Valley lookout to learn about the rich history of Hawaii Island as the birthplace of King Kamehameha I.

Recognizing members of Hawaii Division took vacation just to ensure President Saunders experienced first-rate Hawaiian hospitality, we want to thank Eddie, the members of Hawaii Division, and the many hands that made it possible. It took a lot of coordination to make the day such a special experience.

click below to view a slideshow of the tour

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