Arkansas AFL-CIO Endorses Candidates, Issues

Logo of AFL-CIOThe Arkansas federation of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) has announced after research and deliberation its endorsements in races of the November 2018 general election.

As one of the state AFL-CIO’s 190-plus local unions, labor councils and subordinate bodies, AFSCME Local 965 concurs. Arkansas workers should consider these recommendations as well as conduct their own study of candidates and policies before heading to the polls. We want all to vote!

The election is Tuesday, Nov. 6, early voting begins Oct. 22 and registration for new voters ends Oct. 9. Arkansas citizens should review those details.

As Arkansas 965 covers nine northwest and north central counties plus some employees of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, all the recommended candidates and issues are listed.

U.S. House

  • Chintan Desai — 1st Congressional District
  • Clarke Tucker — 2nd Congressional District
  • Joshua Mahony — 3rd Congressional District
  • Hayden Shamel — 4th Congressional District

State Constitutional Offices

  • Jared Henderson — Governor
  • Anthony Bland — Lieutenant Governor
  • Mike Lee — Attorney General
  • Susan Inman — Secretary of State

Legislatively Referred Constitutional Amendments

  • Issue 1 — Tort Law — AFL-CIO position — Oppose
  • Issue 2: Voter ID — No Position

Citizen Initiated Constitutional Amendments

  1. State Legislative Term Limits — AFL-CIO position — Oppose
  2. Casino Initiative Amendment — Support

Citizen Initiated State Statute

  • Minimum Wage Increase Initiative — AFL-CIO position — Support

State Senate

  • Jon Comstock — 3rd Senate District
  • Rep. Greg Leding — 4th District
  • Jim Wallace — 5th District
  • Sen. Bill Sample — 14th District
  • Melissa Fults — 33rd District
  • Maureen Skinner — 35th District

State House

  • Rep. Vivian Flowers — 17th House District
  • Alan Hughes — 26th District
  • Dustin Parsons — 28th District
  • Rep. Fred Allen — 30th District
  • Randy Haun — 31st District
  • Jess Mallett — 32nd District
  • Andrew Collins — 35th District
  • Chase Mangiapane — 38th District
  • Monica Ball — 39th District
  • Jonathan Crossley — 41st District
  • Rep. Michael John Gray — 47th Distict
  • Michael Roetzel — 65th District
  • Luke Pruitt — 77th District
  • Jay Richardson — 78th District
  • Lou Reed Sharp — 80th District
  • Donald McKinney — 81st District
  • Denise Garner — 84th District
  • Nicole Clowney — 86th District
  • Kelly Scott Unger — 87th District
  • Megan Godfrey — 89th District
  • Kati McFarlane — 90th District
  • Chris Birch — 92nd District
  • Gayatri Agnew — 93rd District
  • Jene Huffman Gilreath — 94th District
  • Celeste Williams — 95th District
  • Christie Craig — 96th District
  • Gary Morris — 97th District

The Arkansas AFL-CIO was chartered in 1956. It was the first in the nation to merge the AFL and CIO into one state central body, according to its website. The state federation represents more than 30,000 working people in diverse occupations. The national AFL-CIO’s member unions total more than 11 million working women and men.

Not Too Early to Check Voter Registration

Graphic of calendarAs summer starts to course through August. …

  • Political campaigns, with all those ads, traditionally begin in one month, Labor Day weekend, Sept. 1-3.
  • Now’s a good time for Arkansawyers to check if they’re registered to vote, Type your name and birth date in Voter View to see if you’re already registered. You’ll also learn in which precinct, districts etc. you live.
  • The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 6, 2018, general election is Tuesday, Oct. 9.
  • Overall Voter Registration Information can be found with the state secretary of state’s office.
  • And early voting begins Oct. 22. If you might not make it in person to your polling place on Tuesday, Nov. 6, early voting is convenient.

Supporters Rally for U of A Living Wage Campaign

Area Media Cover Event

Local 965 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees launched its University of Arkansas Living Wage Campaign with a rally April 7, 2018.

News reports included:

Walter Hinojosa listens as D'Andre Jones speaks April 7, 2018, at the University of Arkansas Living Wage Rally at the Fayetteville Town Center Plaza. Hinojosa is president of the Northwest Arkansas Joint Labor Council, AFL-CIO. Jones is a member of the Northwest Arkansas MLK Council, chair of the Fayetteville Civil Rights Commission. Photo Bret Schulte
Walter Hinojosa listens as D’Andre Jones speaks April 7, 2018, at the University of Arkansas Living Wage Rally at the Fayetteville Town Center Plaza. Hinojosa is president of the Northwest Arkansas Joint Labor Council, AFL-CIO. Jones is a member of the Northwest Arkansas MLK Council, chair of the Fayetteville Civil Rights Commission.
Photo Bret Schulte
Image of UA Living Wage Petition
Click image for PDF of petition supporting the University of Arkansas Living Wage Campaign.

The noon rally, held in unseasonable 29-degree weather following an overnight light snow, attracted some 40 people to the Fayetteville Town Center plaza, adjacent to the city’s Farmer’s Market.

Signatures were gathered for a petition to present to Chancellor Joe Steinmetz, UA System President Don Bobbitt and the system’s Board of Trustees. An online version of the petition can be signed at change.org, which will help advance the cause greatly.

Steve Boss, UA professor of geosciences and incoming 965 secretary-treasurer, introduced the rally’s speakers:

  • Arley Ward, president of the University of Arkansas Graduate Student Congress
  • D’Andre Jones of the Northwest Arkansas MLK Council and chair of the Fayetteville Civil Rights Commission
  • Walter Hinojosa, president of Northwest Arkansas Joint Labor Council, AFL-CIO
  • Denise Garner of Feed Fayetteville, a Democratic candidate for Arkansas House District 84
  • Mike Lee, Democratic candidate for Arkansas attorney general

Citing statistics analyzed by incoming AFSCME 965 Vice President Mike Pierce, an associate professor of history, Boss explained how the lowest paid full-time UA staff members have financial trouble, to the extent a significant segment use the campus’s Jane B. Gearhart Full Circle Food Pantry. Boss emphasized that graduate student research and teaching assistants have a harder time, working on a 50 percent basis, that is 20 hours a week with no benefits. Specifically, a minimum wage for $14.42 an hour is sought.

Ward used his own experiences as a grad assistant in the History Department to explain hardships while studying to earn higher degrees.

Jones examined the work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and how the civil rights leader toward the end of his short life came to emphasize the importance of workers’ rights along with civil rights. King was assassinated 50 years and three days earlier helping Memphis municipal employees who were striking for better conditions and wages.

Hinojosa interplayed the history of the labor movement with current economic conditions at the university and across the country. He cited experiences from his organizing career in Arkansas and earlier in Texas.

Garner related what she has learned from many years of working in area nonprofits along with political realities of living during the Trump administration.

Lee presented a policy-oriented legal viewpoint of the state executive, legislative and judicial branches, which have been run conservatively in recent years. He is “a Little Rock attorney and a former compliance officer for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission,” according to The Associated Press.

Starling Ledbetter opened and closed the program with songs, accompanying herself on guitar.

A gallery can be viewed at Photos of the 2018 U of A Living Wage Rally.

Two Fact Sheets

Cherry tree in front of Old Main
Cherry tree in front of Old Main, University of Arkansas

University of Arkansas Living Wage Campaign Fact Sheets

Full-time Employees

According to a massive empirical study conducted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology economic geographer Amy Glasmeier, for an Arkansas family with two working adults and two children to live independently with adequate food and housing, each of the working adults needs to earn $14.12 per hour or $29,369.60 per year. (Source: livingwage.mit.edu/states/05.)

  • Graphic for change.org online petition to UA Living Wage Campaign
    Click image to sign online. Also available is a PDF of the print petition that includes a summary of the U of A Living Wage Campaign.

    618 of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville’s 1,320 full-time classified employees (clerical, grounds, maintenance, janitorial, etc.) earn less than $29,369.60 per year. In other words, 47 percent of these full-time employees make less than what is needed to support a typical family. (Source: Excel spreadsheet provided by the University of Arkansas’s Office of University Relations, March 30, 2018.)

  • The median pay for the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville’s 1,320 full-time classified employees is $30,016—just barely over the minimum needed to support a typical family. (Source: Excel spreadsheet, March 30, 2018.)
  • 26 of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville’s 1,320 full-time classified employees earn less than $20,000. 361 earn less than $25,000. (Source: Excel spreadsheet, March 30, 2018.)
  • The University of Arkansas’s Jane B. Gearhart Full Circle Food Pantry reports that 51 percent of its clients in the most recent period identified themselves as “Staff” or “Hourly Workers.” Moreover, “Staff” were more likely than undergraduates or graduate students to visit the pantry on a recurring basis. (Source: email dated February 23, 2018.)
  • Walmart now pays its starting employees $11.00 per hour. 280 full-time classified employees earn less than that on an hourly basis. (Source: www.cnbc.com/2018/01/11/walmart-to-boost-starting-wage-give-employees-bonus-after-tax-bill.html; Excel spreadsheet, March 30, 2018.)
  • Amendment 33 to the Arkansas Constitution provides the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees the authority to set wages on its campuses.

Graduate Assistants

According to a massive empirical study conducted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology economic geographer Amy Glasmeier, the Living Wage for a single adult in the State of Arkansas is $21,597 before taxes. That is the amount of income needed for a single adult to live independently with adequate food and housing. (Source: livingwage.mit.edu/states/05.)

  • 1,334 of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville’s 1,375 Graduate Assistants on 50 percent appointments earn less than $21.597. In other words, 97 percent of these Graduate Assistants make less than what a single adult needs to maintain adequate food and housing. (Source: Excel spreadsheet provided by the University of Arkansas’s Office of University Relations, March 30, 2018.)
  • The median pay for the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville’s 1,375 Graduate Assistants on 50 percent appointments is $13,733. (Source: Excel spreadsheet, March 30, 2018.)
  • 60 of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville’s 1,375 Graduate Assistants on 50 percent appointments earn less than $10,000. 159 earn less than $12,000. 857 earn less than $15,000. (Source: Excel spreadsheet, March 30, 2018.)
  • 48 percent of all University of Arkansas, Fayetteville graduate students reported being Food Insecure—that is not knowing where the next meal will be coming from—at some point during the last twelve month period for which date is available. (Source: service.uark.edu/foodprograms.)
  • Graduate Assistants are vital to the core teaching and research mission of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Of the 697 colleges and universities in the U.S. News and World Reports annual survey, the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville ranks 9th in the percentage of classes taught by Graduate Assistants. 18 percent of University of Arkansas, Fayetteville classes were taught by Graduate Assistants in the most recent year for which data is available. (www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/the-short-list-college/articles/2017-02-21/10-universities-where-tas-teach-the-most-classes.)

 

Local Elects Officers, Board, Trustees

Bret Schulte
Bret Schulte

At its March 26, 2018, meeting, a quorum of Local 965, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, chose Bret Schulte as president, succeeding Betty Martin.

Other officers elected, unanimously as a slate, were Mike Pierce as vice president, Steve Boss as secretary-treasurer and Kelly Hammond as recording secretary.

Board positions are being filled by George Martin, Cyndi Nance and Bruce McNully, who had been secretary-treasurer.

Incoming trustees are Martin, Ted Swedenburg and Ben Pollock, who also will serve as communication director.

Schulte on Monday was chosen to immediately succeed Dan Sims as vice president as an interim position. Schulte will assume the presidency later in the spring.

Local 965 is based in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and its members are public employees in Northwest Arkansas or work in the University of Arkansas System.