AFSCME ‘Staff the Front Lines’ bus tour seeks to solve staffing crisis in public service

States, cities, towns and schools face a staffing crisis. Hiring for public service jobs has failed to keep pace with the private sector. In April, for instance, there were 833,000 job openings in state and local governments, according to data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In response, AFSCME is kicking off a national bus tour this summer to recruit talented, diverse and dedicated people to staff the front lines.

The bus will make stops in more than 20 communities in New York, Michigan, Minnesota, Washington, California, Arizona, New Mexico, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Virginia.

At each stop, community leaders will join AFSCME members to encourage people to fill these open positions. In some places, they will host job fairs to recruit new talent, conduct listening sessions with public service workers and host other professional development events.

“We all deserve to live in thriving communities with clean drinking water, safe roads, strong public schools and good health care. But right now, our nurses, school bus drivers, 911 dispatchers, corrections officers and other public service workers are on the front lines of a staffing crisis that is threatening their ability to do their jobs,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “AFSCME members know our communities best, and that’s why we’re launching the Staff the Front Lines bus tour. By working together, we can fix this problem.”

The bus tour is part of AFSCME’s Staff the Front Lines initiative, which includes hiring events, legislative advocacy, partnership building and a digital marketing strategy. Under this initiative, AFSCME will also create a national Job Training and Development Center to build a sustainable talent pipeline into public service and address structural barriers to entry and advancement.

“There isn’t going to be a one-size-fits-all solution to solve this crisis, but we can start by prioritizing and listening to the public service workers who have dedicated their careers to serving their communities,” said Saunders. “Public service jobs are often good union jobs, providing better wages, benefits, retirement security and safer working conditions. It is also rewarding work where people can make a difference.”