PSEA and AFL-CIO sign historic labor solidarity partnership agreement
The presidents of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and PSEA signaled the beginning of a new, stronger bond, signing historic agreement to allow for greater solidarity and advocacy on behalf of working Pennsylvanians.
PSEA President Jim Testerman and William George, president of Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, signed the labor solidarity partnership agreement at a March 9 Harrisburg news conference.
“We believe it is in the mutual best interest for PSEA and our local affiliates to participate in the broader labor movement through joint efforts with the AFL-CIO and its affiliates at the national, state, and local levels,” said Testerman. “The strength of unions working to improve the lives of working Americans is in our solidarity. We support each other. Today we re-affirm to the members of the AFL-CIO and they re-affirm to us: your fight is our fight, your struggle is ours also.
“Unions continue to play a critical role in our society – and one that extends well beyond those people who pay dues,” Testerman said. “Unions give workers a voice through the collective bargaining process to shape decisions regarding compensation and benefits, working conditions and job security. Almost always, the result is higher pay and better benefits, safer working conditions and greater job security for their members, just as it has been throughout the history of the labor movement.”
“This is a historic moment for the labor movement as well as for every working person in this state. By joining together we can build an even stronger and more vibrant voice for working people throughout Pennsylvania,” George said. “We will be able to wage stronger campaigns to fend off escalating assaults on family incomes, health care, pensions and public services. And we’ll be stronger to fight for a great education for our children, quality affordable health care for all, and retirement security for all workers.”
The agreement will allow for greater cooperation and participation by PSEA local affiliates in AFL-CIO central labor councils and state federations.
The two organizations have been working toward this moment for a few years. In 2006, the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly enacted a new business item authorizing NEA local affiliates to become members of AFL-CIO local central labor councils and state federations. Since that time, PSEA and Pennsylvania AFL-CIO have been moving to develop a state agreement. On the national level, HealthCare-PSEA is already affiliated with AFT Healthcare, part of the AFL-CIO.
“Now is the time for all labor unions to work together more closely and rebuild the American dream to make it accessible to all,” said PSEA Vice President Michael Crossey. “You cannot have a middle class without labor unions in America. It is imperative that unions speak in a unified voice to bring about positive change.”
“The advantages of joining together are obvious: sharing of resources, better coordination, closer ties between workers and their unions for the mutual benefit of our communities and schools throughout Pennsylvania,” Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Bloomingdale added. “We will be able to conduct more effective campaigns in politics and legislation, in our community services programs and in educating workers about the benefits of belonging to unions.”