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The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is celebrating its 75th year by launching a traveling history exhibit and a new website that chronicles the key highlights in the organization's history. The year-long celebration began in October and is themed "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow." A centerpiece of the online campaign is a 12-minute video that introduces you to the key people in the organization's history and recaps the most important battles AFSCME fought over the years.
“This exhibit will remind our members of the long struggle to secure the rights that so many take for granted today,” McEntee said. The exhibit includes panels featuring the union’s fight for collective bargaining rights in the mid-20th century, including the historic struggle of the Memphis sanitation workers, all members of AFSCME Local 1733, who struck in 1968 to gain recognition for the union. “Martin Luther King Jr. died while fighting for the rights of our members,” McEntee noted.
The exhibit also contains panels detailing the union’s successful campaigns to create pay equity for women, including the decade-long effort in Washington State to end discriminatory pay scales for women and the historic 1981 strike by Local 101 in San Jose, Calif., which led the city to raise salaries for positions typically held by women. More than 50 percent of AFSCME’s membership is comprised of women, and the union has a long history of leadership on issues of women’s rights and equality.
Other topics highlighted in the exhibit are AFSCME’s efforts to protect Social Security and the retirement security of American workers and the union’s long struggle to ensure the passage of health care reform legislation. The exhibit also depicts the union’s efforts to protect collective bargaining rights, which were attacked by Wall Street-backed politicians in states such as Wisconsin and Ohio earlier this year. The reaction in those states led to widespread public demonstrations throughout the country and the emergence of a Main Street Movement to create an economy that would benefit all Americans, rather than just the very wealthy.