During the May 20th Delegate Assembly meeting, Victoria Mitchell, Loraine Guest and Linda McPherson took office and all proclaimed they were prepared to take on the arduous tasks to build the union’s strength and vitality.
The three new top officers of the Council were sworn in by John English, the New York State Area Director for AFSCME, who was standing in for AFSCME International President Lee Saunders. The three raised their right hands and confidently stressed their fidelity to their new roles to the loud applause of the delegates and guests.
Mitchell was elected Executive Director. She was also the President of the council’s fundraising Local 107. A 27-year history with the union, she was a member of the Executive Board for more than 20 years. She worked for ORT America, one of first shops organized by then Local 1707, more than fifty years ago.
Guest, the new Council President, remains President of Social Service Local 215. She is also the Chair of the Political Action Committee and the Chair of the PEOPLE Committee, the important political fundraising arm of the International.
McPherson, the Vice President of Head Start Local 95, said that she was eager to begin her new challenges. “I thank you for supporting me,” she said to the delegates.
Mitchell was also keen to begin her new role. “First, I want to say thank you to all the members that voted in the District Council 1707 elections. Yes, I want to thank all the members, whether or not they voted for me or someone else. This was an exercise in union democracy that must be respected, revered and promoted,” she said.
An Exercise in Union Democracy
Victoria Mitchell thanked former Executive Director Raglan George, Jr. and former Council President Kim Medina for all their years of service. Medina remains on the Executive Board as the President of Local 253.
“I want to also acknowledge the hard work of our staff, but we cannot ignore that we must begin new initiatives to make the union more accountable to our members,” she stressed.
“We must establish more efficient links to reach members including exploring new ways of communication through the social media. I have heard from members complaining about our mailing list and this must be corrected immediately.”
She added later that members who are not receiving their union mail regularly must give correct home address, phone numbers and email addresses to their union representatives so that their current information is known to the union.
“We must have current address and phone numbers for members and insure that all workers in our shops are members. We must find more efficient ways to represent our members in grievances, mediations and arbitrations. And above all we must remember our members come first,” Mitchell added.
Mitchell added later the members must be active to campaign and vote in the June 24 Congressional Primary, the state primaries in September and the General Election in November.
She reiterated that AFSCME has asked all its affiliates to be quite active at the NYS AFL-CIO COPE Convention in New York City on Monday August 18. The COPE Convention is where the labor movement endorses candidates for the state primaries and the General Election.
She stressed that she wanted members to participate in the NYC Central Labor Council Labor Day Parade on Saturday September 6. “Union pride is not obsolete,” she noted. “It is a necessary component for growing the union.” She was encouraging all members and their families to participate.
“We must do all we can to build and grow our union. We have friends in government who will not impede us but will assist us if we approach them. We also have members out there eager to see this union and our membership prosper. I cannot do it alone. The Executive Board cannot do it alone. Our Delegate Assembly cannot do it alone. We must all work together and with enthusiasm to make it work,” she concluded.