Local 965 Joins 2019 NWA Women’s March

Members of AFSCME 965, representing government workers of Northewest and north central Arkansas, rallied then paraded with its banner at the 2019 Northwest Arkansas Women’s March. The winter day was mild on Saturday, Feb. 2 in downtown Fayetteville.

The march served to promote justice for all women. The rally included a drive for supplies for the area Peace at Home Shelter. Two local TV stations reported on the event; here is the NBC affiliate’s story and here the CBS station’s piece.

For 2nd Year, Local Serves at Soup Sunday

Members of AFSCME Local 965 donned their logo green T-shirts and cinched aprons at the waist to help the 18th annual Northwest Arkansas Soup Sunday, a key fundraising event for Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families, held Jan. 27.

The local organized to help out the first time for the 2018 event last winter. Both times, the benefit was held at the John Q. Hammons Convention Center in Rogers, Arkanas.

Defend Minimum Wage Increase

Dear members and supporters of the Mighty 965,

Flag of ArkansasAs many of you know, Arkansas state Sen. Bob Ballinger, R-Berryville, and his House counterpart Rep. Frances Cavenaugh, R-Walnut Ridge, have submitted a bill that would largely dismantle the minimum-wage increase just passed by more than two-thirds of Arkansas voters.

Greg Leding says legislators in Little Rocks are hearing a lot of support for Ballinger’s bill from business interests but nothing but crickets from people who voted for the minimum wage act. We need to send emails or make phone calls — and encourage others to do the same. If there was ever a day to call for social justice, MLK Day is it.

Ballinger’s Senate Bill 115 erases the minimum-wage increase that two-thirds of Arkansans voted for in the November 2018 General Election for anyone under 18, as well as anyone employed at a school, preschool, college, nonprofit or business with fewer than 50 employees. Attorney David Couch, who wrote the minimum wage ballot initiative, estimates that the bill could steal increases in pay for as many as half of the state’s minimum-wage employees.

Please contact your representatives, Democratic or Republican, as well as Senate Majority Leader Jim Hendren to let them you know support the minimum wage increase and oppose Republican efforts to undermine Arkansas voters and keep Arkansas workers in poverty.

Here’s contact information for Republicans and local Democrats who are defending the minimum wage. The Dems need to be able to say they’re hearing from supporters.

— Bret Schulte, president, AFSCME Local 965


Parking Victory Nears

U of A parking map December 2018The Local 965 is pleased to announce that University of Arkansas Transit and Parking will now consider a salary-based fee structure to park on campus, a mark of progress for the UA Living Wage campaign. If approved, the innovative salary-based fee structure would charge each faculty and staff member a small percentage of his/her salary to park on campus.

Charging a percentage of a salary will make parking more affordable for workers at the university, where the median annual salary for classified employees is just $31,000. Nearly 400 full-time employees make less than $25,000 per year — data gathered by a state Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request issued by the Local 965.

Since April, the Local has waged a Living Wage campaign to persuade the university to increase wages for its lowest level workers. We believe that making parking more affordable for employees would be an important demonstration of the university’s commitment to fairness, innovation and workers rights.

The consideration of a new parking structure comes after a presentation and proposal in November to the Transit and Parking Committee by Local 965 President Bret Schulte after consultation with the Local 965.

A handful of universities have already deployed similar fee structures. The University of Illinois charges employees 0.7 percent of salaries for parking, while Rutgers charges 0.001 percent. LeHigh and Towson have adopted tier systems for multiple levels of salaries. The University of Vermont has adopted a hybrid zone and salary system that charges employees a higher percentage of their salaries to park in premium zones.

The Local encourages members, faculty and staff to send their expressions of support for a salary-based fee structure to U of A Transit and Parking director Gary Smith,

The January meeting of Local 965 will include discussion of the parking issue. That’s at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, at Columbus House Brewery & Tap Room, 701 W. North St. in Fayetteville.

Local Aids Campus Food Pantry

Local 965 helped the Jane B. Gearhart Full Circle Food Pantry on the University of Arkansas campus the week after Thanksgiving, preparing food baskets.

Logo Jane B. Gearhart Full Circle Food PantryThey’re actually boxes, which can hold more. Some might think of such volunteer work on holidays themselves, but eating is a 7-day/52-week necessity.

Members of the Local worked with Full Circle staff at the facility on Nov. 27, 2018. Some brought family members to participate.

The pantry by the way is WAHR C204, i.e. Bud Walton Hall, 324 Stadium Drive.

That a significant percentage of pantry patrons are U of A employees and students has been a major argument for the Living Wage Campaign of the 965.