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Inspired to Act: SSA Employee Advocates for Workers' Rights in Latest AFGE Documentary

AFGE member sees union as champion of workers and a stabilizing force in the community

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a time when union membership has been on a decline, a groundswell of workers, from teachers to fast-food workers, organized and unorganized, have taken action against union busting and poor working conditions. The actions of these workers is partly what inspired Suzanne McBride, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 2206 member and 5th District Young Worker Committee Representative, to become more active in her union. 

"I was looking at what was happening to the teachers in Wisconsin. I saw them gradually taking away the teachers' rights and their right to unionize. I thought to myself, if they do that there, then I know Alabama is the next state to follow suit. I thought that it was extremely important that we become more involved," said McBride.

With her work at the Social Security Administration (SSA) Suzanne takes pride in the services that are provided to the American people. "Social security provides a venue for people to have a source of income when they are no longer able to work. This is essential to their community and the economy as a whole," Suzanne says.

The benefits and services provided through SSA are often the only direct contact many citizens have with the federal government. SSA employees are often seen as the face of government service as they are interacting with people in communities across the nation. The value of that service is carried out by union members like Suzanne.

"Dedicated public servants, like Suzanne, are keeping this country moving forward," AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. said. "Workers from different professions, trades and services are reclaiming their value and defending their rights to bargain and negotiate collectively. We are encouraged by young activists like Suzanne who will continue to grow this movement."

Through her union activism Suzanne believes that she can make meaningful change with regard to working conditions and the services delivered to the American people. She finds that union membership is often the only protection against wrongdoing on the job.

"For 79 years SSA employees have been the face of the federal government. Working in communities across the country, SSA employees serve millions of people annually and are the public servants that nearly all of us will come to depend on," President Cox said. "This campaign is our way of thanking them for their service and reminding Americans of the valuable work they do."

Suzanne shares her story in the latest documentary produced by the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents Suzanne and thousands of other bargaining unit employees throughout SSA. The documentary series is part of AFGE's year-long campaign, "I Am AFGE," to increase the public's awareness and appreciation of the women and men who work for them every day. Suzanne's story is one of 15 short-form documentaries being released by AFGE every three weeks through the end of the year, highlighting individual federal employees who carry out important work across the country.

Like so many other agencies featured in the series, SSA is being forced to make drastic decisions due to unrealistic sequester cuts. Labor activists within SSA are currently raising awareness about the agency's flawed "Vision 2025" plan, which would drastically alter the proven customer service system on which low and middle-income, disabled and senior Americans have relied for decades. The plan seeks to shutter nearly all SSA offices around the country and eliminate in-person customer service in favor of online and tele-service alternatives.

"With tens of millions of baby boomers set to retire in the next several years, we need to look at expanding SSA's customer service offerings, not contracting them," said Cox. 

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia. For the latest AFGE news and information, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

The American Federation of Government Employees has launched a year-long campaign to raise the public's awareness and appreciation of federal employees. The campaign kicks off with a new video highlighting the important services federal employees deliver and explaining how they have much in common with the citizens they are sworn to serve. Fifteen other videos will roll out during the year featuring real federal workers. The videos and additional information are available at www.afge.org/IAm.


AFGE logo.

Video - http://youtu.be/ITahsDNLVBc 
Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140319/DC86787LOGO 
Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20131120/MM21150LOGO

SOURCE American Federation of Government Employees

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