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Coming #AllTogether at AFSCME’s 45th International Convention

This July, 45 UDW delegates joined more than 2,000 union siblings for the first time since 2018 at the AFSCME 45th International Convention in Philadelphia.

Every two years, we join thousands of AFSCME delegates from across the nation to discuss issues of vital importance to our communities, our workplaces, and our union. Through open discussion of the issues that matter to public service workers and working families, delegates set our union’s priorities for the future, renew shared commitments, and strategize to make us stronger.

UDW is the third largest union within AFSCME, our national union which represents over a million workers ranging from nurses and behavioral health employees to sanitation workers, librarians, home care workers, child care providers, and more. UDW is the largest union affiliate in the west, with a majority of our members being women and people of color, making us and our voices even more imperative as we represent such a diverse workforce.

“Today, we have the power to build safer, more beautifully diverse communities,” IHSS provider David Haskins of San Diego reminded AFSCME members when he took to the podium.

We made history at this year’s convention by officially welcoming our family child care providers members of CCPU-UDW to our international family in-person. We recognized our tremendous fight of over 20 years to unionize and create a statewide family child care union in California, and CCPU-UDW member Charlotte Neal of Sacramento proudly represented our 40,000 family child care members on stage.

We also raised our voices to support eleven of the 41 resolutions presented during the convention. Some of the resolutions UDW delegates supported included reaffirming the value of child care providers; growing and connecting union child care; increasing access to strategic workforce development; fighting to win Unemployment, Medicare, and Social Security for parent and spouse IHSS providers, and more.

District 7 Chair Isabel Serrano asked AFSCME members to support a resolution calling for the expansion of access to home and community-based services in our community.

“Longstanding racism and sexism against [domestic workers] have resulted in structural inequality, leaving many of us living at or below the poverty line,” Isabel said. “Yet, we save lives and make our communities healthier and stronger—our wages should reflect the value and importance of our work.”

Our members not only took their stand for improved social services, benefits, and pay, but also for the rights of our oppressed siblings. UDW delegates proudly stood in support of reproductive rights for all those who can bear children, as well as for the rights of our fellow trans and non-binary siblings who are also facing injustices that attempt to invalidate and suppress their identities, rights, and dreams.

“This is not the first time our systems have failed us—when I say us, I particularly mean women, trans and non-binary people, and people of color—because these are the people who are at risk of losing our lives if we don’t stand up and fight back for our reproductive rights!” Assistant Executive Director, Johanna Hester, told the crowd. “As a union we must protect workers’ rights to health care – and that means access to ALL reproductive health care services.”

We also participated in workshops and panels, and connected with AFSCME members from all over the country. We exchanged pins and stories about how we successfully organized to win better wages and benefits in our workplaces and inspired each other to continue to take action in our communities. At the end of the week, we joined our AFSCME family on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art to demand a better contract with fairer wages, benefits and resources for museum workers. The sea of green t-shirts could be seen from blocks away and our voices made news across the city.

Orange County IHSS provider Hai Nguyen said it best. “I love the concept of #AllTogether, because sometimes in life we feel alone and seeing so many people from different backgrounds and jobs come together to be there for each other is beautiful.”

The days were long and jampacked, but we were so happy to come together to proudly represent the interests of home care and family child care providers.

Rosa Beltran, District 3 Vice Chair, was most excited about bringing home the knowledge she gained from convention back to her fellow providers in Riverside County:

“It’s been a long time and we needed this to feel the love within our union,” she said. “I’ve learned so much and I’m taking it all back with me to share with my district and educate our younger generation on the importance of unions so that we can grow AFSCME and empower our communities.”