Why I Belong to My Union

I believe in the value of being a union member and being a part of AFSCME.  Union membership is about working together to improve conditions in the workplace, having a voice in the workplace, and building community in the workplace.  It is about talking to management about problems, coming up with solutions together, and encouraging management and employees to work together for the betterment of all in the workplace.

It is through collective action that we protect the wages and benefits we have.  We can represent dues-paying members in matters of discipline, and we can promote worker-friendly policy development through collective actions and contact with policy-makers.

There are many benefits available to union members, including discounts for travel, cell phone and internet, legal help, and free college courses.

In Portage County, AFSCME was successful in obtaining a wage increase for highway workers and getting them included in the wage study.  AFSCME has successfully fought the privatization of the Portage County Health Care Center, and will continue to be involved in that issue.  AFSCME is involved with the issues at King’s Veterans Home to ensure that quality care for our veterans continues.  AFSCME is fighting to ensure a safe environment at Lincoln Hills for both the juveniles and the staff.

More than just having positive influence in the workplace, AFSCME membership is about the greater community.  AFSCME believes in working with community groups and faith communities to make positive changes in the community and to help others in the community.  It’s about helping people, whether that is putting together a team to rake leaves, shoveling snow for neighbors, working to overcome hunger issues within the community, or working to educate legislators on issues important to all working families, and fighting to ring about legislation that benefits working class citizens.

I believe that true family values include providing jobs that pay a living wage, with benefits, that allow workers and families the opportunity to spend more time together and less time working multiple jobs to support themselves and/or their families.  AFSCME is committed to working to bring living wages and benefits to all workers.

I believe that the civil rights that have been fought for and won in the past decades are worth protecting.  I believe that it is only by working to protect the civil rights of even those with whom we disagree can we truly make America work and move forward.  AFSCME is committed to protecting and fighting for civil rights.

I believe that every person has a right to food, safe and affordable housing, affordable health care, and quality education.  I believe that these rights are best guaranteed and protected through laws and government action, non-profit organizations, and the faith community, and not by relying on for-profit institutions.  Education is critical in helping people to find sustainable work, and to protecting our future through the education of our children.  AFSCME is committed to these ideals and to working to promote these ideals.

It is through our voices and our actions that change is accomplished.  We are stronger together, and it has always been through collective action that changes are made.  As a union member, you have the ability to provide direction to your union, and to influence what changes we work toward in the workplace and the greater community.

As a union leader, it is my pledge to continue to work for the ideals expressed above and to listen to the members.  I invite you to join me as a member of AFSCME as we work together to accomplish these things.  

Collene Ottum

President AFSCME Local 348

Executive Board Member, AFSCME Council 32