Against a backdrop of attacks on state and local government employees, both nationally and in Connecticut, Council 4 convened its biennial business convention April 9 at the Marriot Hotel in Farmington.
The convention opened up on an inspiring note as AFSCME President Lee Saunders joined Council 4 Executive Director Sal Luciano and AFSCME Local 1716 President Kenny Blue to honor Katrina Edmonds, a City of Hartford dispatcher whose actions are credited with saving the life of a caller in distress.
"Katrina Edmonds is one of many examples of excellence in Hartford, and around Connecticut. We are proud of you, inspired by you—and we will never quit fighting for you," Saunders said in presenting a special award to Edmonds, who was joined by her family and the women whose life she helped to save, Eddie Glass..
In a rousing, angry speech to convention delegates, Saunders pledged AFSCME's full support as he challenged Council 4 members to step up the fight against legislative and judicial assaults on union members.
"Using budget crises to attack your rights is an old play that is totally played out," Saunders remarked. "We need to hold the people we help elect—people like Governor Dan Malloy—accountable for their actions."
Saunders was referring to Malloy's decision to lay off state employees and slash vital services, as well as to slash aid to cities and towns.
"You are not alone. We are in this together, and we will get through this together. We will continue to demand that you get the pay, benefits and respect for the important work that you do," Saunders told Council 4 delegates.
Saunders also reminded delegates that powerful and well-funded anti-union forces are not reletning in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's 4-4 deadlock in the Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association case:
Council 4 members then heard from the Rev. Scott Marks, co-founder of the Connecticut Center for a New Economy in New Haven, and a leader of the UNITE HERE union in Connecticut.
"There is an effort to destroy our unions," Marks said. "We have to stand up and we have to fight back. Together we stand, divided we fall."
The convention closed with the election and swearing in of Council 4 Vice Presidents for the 2016-2018 term. Thanks to a change in the Council 4 Constitution, two additional spots were created for our new Police Union members and the Council 4 Retiree Chapter.
Council 4 Vice Presidents, 2016-2018:
Robert Augusta Local 318 - NP3 Clerical
Jody Barr Local 2836 - State University Administrators
Jay Bartolomei Local 714 - State of CT - Social Services
Debra Batiste Local 538 - NP3 Clerical
Bernie Bombardier Local 1933 - Town of East Hartford
Stacie Byrdsong Local 1303 CT Municipals
Dave Caron Local 391 - State of CT - Corrections
Sandy DeCampos Local 991 - Town of Manchester
Joe Cirigliano Local 3920 - Town of Newington
Steve Curran Local 1565 - State of CT - Corrections
Anthony Gochee Local 3713 - MDC
Aldo Godenzi Local 184 - MDC
Thomas Ledoux - Council 4 Retiree Chapter
Sotoneye Otunba-Payne Local 749 - State of CT - Judicial
Derek Puorro: AFSCME Municipal Police Union Representative
Richard Rivera Local 1161 - City of Hartford
Marsha Tulloch Local 269 - State of CT - DOL
Claudine Wilkins-Chambers Local 3429 - New Haven Paraprofessionals