American public servants are under attack. Their pay and benefits have been cut. Their voice at work and workplace protections are being taken away. Their unions are being silenced. As government employees are fighting back against hostile policies and legislation that make it harder for them to do their jobs, union leaders from other countries are taking notice.
For the first time, government employee union leaders from three different countries attended AFGE’s legislative conference as a show of support for American public servants. They were Ariel Jacobi of Israel, Gabriel Chifu of Romania, and José “Pepe” Sayagues of Spain.
Reiterating the importance of unions, Jacobi said “Men and women, Jews, Christians, Muslims – all enjoy the protection of unions.”
The president of the Israeli government employee union IUGE said Israeli government employees and American government employees are fighting for the same things: a voice at work, fair wages, and the ability to retire with dignity. Both are also fighting against privatization of government jobs. But Jacobi is optimistic. He said, “Together, they will never beat us. Solidarity! Solidarity and friendship forever!”
Chifu, who came to the U.S. for the first time, said it was exciting to see so many AFGE members in the room. He said he admires and respects this country and believes American government employees deserve respect too.
“Respect is very important,” said the general secretary of PUBLISIND Federation.
Postal Sector FSP-UGT's Sayagues told AFGE members he knows what they are going through, and he encouraged them to fight on.
If we have the motivation to fight, we will win the future
“If we have the motivation to fight, we will win the future,” Sayagues added.
Inspired by AFGE, these union leaders had discussions about holding their own legislative conference, and organizing workers in agencies they do not currently represent.