Unified and ready for the fight! AFSCME is the way!

The theme of unity and readiness of AFSCME Council 18’s 9th Annual Public Safety Blue Breakfast drew a packed house of nearly 90 AFSCME Public Safety Officers – the largest yet! -  and from every corner of the state, to Santa Fe on January 25, 2018.  

AFSCME members recommitted to their union, to one another and to the shared mission of making New Mexico public safety careers and public safety better.

Whether fighting to ensure proper staffing and equipment, competitive pay and benefits, or good training, AFSCME is our voice, leading the struggle and galvanizing our victories; AFSCME is the way!

Check out more PHOTOS from the 2018 Blue Breakfast HERE

Full Speaker Videos of the Event can be found on the AFSCME 18 FACEBOOK PAGE.

Attendees from all parts of the state and from all of AFSCME Council 18’s public safety sectors – law enforcement, adult and juvenile corrections officers, 911 dispatchers, paramedics and EMTs, city and court security officers, and probation and parole officers – heard from a wide range of dynamic guest speakers, including New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe, Council 18’s attorney Shane Youtz, PORAC Legal Defense Fund Administrator Ed Fishman, and Department of Corrections Chief of Staff (retired) Mark Myers.

Council 18 Public Safety Coordinator Rob Trombley emceed the 9th Annual Public Safety Blue Breakfast, which was invocated by Chaplian Jose Villegas, Sr., a captain with the State Police of New Mexico.   The co-chairs of this event were Youth Services Center Juvenile Corrections Officers’ Local 1536 President Ben Chavez and Santa Fe County Detention Adult and Juvenile Corrections Officers’ Local 1413 President Daniel Solis.

You are fighting for more families than you know!

New Mexico Attorney General, Hector Balderas, addressing the 2018 AFSCME Public Safety Blue Breakfast, and thanking AFSCME members for standing with him in the "street fight" to protect working people.

"It is the most important jobs we have; fighting for citizens who need our help. You guys are fighting for more families than you know," said Attorney General Hector Balderas.

"You're fighting for my family and my mother, who didn't know about due process. AFSCME is the reason that a kid from Wagon Mound (New Mexico) could not only become an attorney, but an Attorney General.  

"You better believe that I'm going to go all the way in the fight for justice. I've taken over 30 legal positions against the Trump administration's attack on our civil rights, our paychecks, our children's healthcare, and our families, I will continue suing him on AFSCME's behalf."

As a union, we never back down.  We never forsake a member.

AFSCME Council 18 Executive Director and International Vice-President for the Southwestern District, Connie Derr, pictured with Grant County Sheriff’s Deputy and Local 2516 Vice-President Mike Burns, lead off the conference by saying “Every one of you have dedicated your lives and careers to protect and serve our communities. It is our collective job, as AFSCME, to protect you, so you can protect our citizens.”

“Every local union in this room, and those that are not here today, are having to fight the employer for everything: better equipment, better wages and benefits, improved training, appropriate staffing levels, safer working conditions, reasonable work schedules,” said Connie Derr, executive director of AFSCME Council 18.

“And yet somehow these are fighting words to management.  But look around the room, and know that there’s not a local union here, or back home, that doesn’t step up to that fight.  To protect its members.  To protect the public.

Because collectively, we’re able to win.  To beat back those who would rather sacrifice public safety, than understand the value.  And at the end of the day, every fight, every time you support your union sisters and brothers, it makes public safety and it makes AFSCME stronger.”

By working together with AFSCME, we achieve shared goals for our community!

Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe spoke about how AFSCME’s role is essential in the work to make communities safer and how AFSCME is an ally in the struggle to win adequate funding and equipment for his deputies

"We want the same things." Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe. "At my Sheriff's orientation in Santa Fe, after I won the election, I asked about working with unions. We were essentially told there is no place in law enforcement for unions," said Sheriff Hogrefe.  “But I want the same things as my deputies’ union: better pay, safer work conditions, good policy to guide us, and more staffing.

"At times, we may be on opposing sides, but we're on the same team. I'm proud of the relationships we have built. We work well together, we train well together."

Beyond Hearts and Minds, It Takes Boots on the Ground to be a Change Agent at Work.

John Byers, Penitentiary of New Mexico Corrections Officer, retired, spoke on the conditions at PNM that lead to the deadly riot in 1980 and how it was the catalyst that in forming the first local union of corrections officers.

"It takes someone working in the field to know what the concerns are. You cannot have someone in an ivory tower making decisions that are going to affect you," said Officer John Byers.

"You have to be a change agent. It starts in your head when you get information and recognize the need for change. Before the 1980 riot, we knew there were problems, but that did not bring change. Change is a trickle down effect, it has to move from your head to your heart, that's where the emotion is.

"If our desire for change is driven by the heart, it's going to have more force than if it is driven by the mind. Finally, in order to bring change, you've got to put legs on it. In my case, we did the walkout. To be a change agent in your union, you have to have the knowledge in your head, the understanding in your heart, and the wisdom to take action in your legs."

Stepping Up to the Challenge.

Council 18 Staff Representative Joel Villarreal (left) facilitated a panel of activists which included (l to r) Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center Corrections Officers’ Local 2499 President Stephen Perkins, Department of Corrections Probation and Parole Fugitive Investigator, Local 477 Steward Joe Barela, Grant County Sheriffs Deputies’ Union Local 2516 Vice President Mike Burns, and Taos County Emergency Medical Services Union Local 1193 Paramedic Erica Parraz. Out of the many high points of this year's Blue Breakfast, the AFSCME Local Activist panel merits as one the best.

"My job is to get people from point A to point B in better condition than I found them," said Erica 'Rica" Parraz. "To the politicians who play games with our jobs, I say, 'you cannot use public services as your political agenda.' It is important for us to stick together in the union. I make sure to remind our members so they never forget, we fought hard for these job improvements, and only by sticking together can we protect these gains."

"It feels good to accomplish positive things. We're here for a reason, " said Joe Barela. "The individuals we arrest are not on probation for singing badly in choir. They have violent tendencies and think only of themselves. In my division, we have only 14 officers for the entire state. We prioritize the most dangerous cases and get the job done, but we could have greater impact on public safety with more officers.

We are the largest force of employee empowerment in this country.

Michael Messina, Assistant Director of AFSCME International Research and Collective Bargaining Department boiled down the AFSCME response to the U.S. Supreme Court Case, Janus v. AFSCME, the biggest attack on organized labor in decades.

"The Janus v. AFSCME case before the U.S. Supreme Court will cause us to lose fair share, but this won't be as difficult and challenging as you think," said Michael Messina, labor economist with AFSCME International.

"All we need to do is continue talking to our co-workers about what you live and breath every day. Talk about the benefits of unity in collective bargaining and how that has a positive impact on our jobs, benefits, retirement, and take home pay. "Let your co-workers know that there is a community here for them to join, that the union is about so much more than an insurance policy if you get in trouble.

T. Zane Reeves, PhD, Regents Professor of Public Administration at the University of New Mexico, leading a workshop, "Preparing Evidence-based Reports to Win Arbitrations" at this year's Blue Breakfast.

AFSCME Council 18 has committed to growing the scope and impact of our Blue Breakfast for each of the nine years it has been held in Santa Fe. Next year, our 10th annual event, promises to be the best yet.

Please contact [email protected] to share your ideas on what subjects we should tackle in 2019!

Whether fighting to ensure we have proper equipment, staffing, enforced policies that protect us, or competitive pay and benefits, AFSCME is our voice, leading the struggle and galvanizing our victories. AFSCME is the way!