Honor our public workers, they are society’s ‘safety net’

OLYMPIA (May 4, 2016) — Celebrated the first week of May since 1985, this is national Public Service Recognition Week, honoring the men and women who serve our nation as federal, state, county and local government employees.

Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO,released the following statement:

“What holds our society and communities together is the public service that public sector employees perform every day. Public employees protect our communities by providing public health services, policing our streets, fighting fires, protecting the most vulnerable among us, teaching our children, caring for our elderly and infirm, repairing our roads and sidewalks, monitoring our air and water quality, and so many more services.

“These services together make up the ‘safety net.’ Even when those who have their goals set on shrinking the size of government come after public employees, we are proud to say that public employees continue to go above and beyond to provide the best service possible to our communities. Public employees are the unsung heroes of our community. On behalf of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO and our 450,000 union members, we say thank you for the work that you do.”

The City of Seattle has recognized Public Service Recognition Week with a proclamation honoring the nearly 10,000 public service employees who work with the city. WSLC Secretary Treasurer Lynne Dodson and Claude Burfect of the M.L. King County Central Labor Council accepted the proclamation on behalf of the hard-working women and men in the public sector. Here are Dodson’s comments:

“I spent over 20 years in the public sector. It means so much to be to be able to accept it on behalf of public service workers. It is an honor to recognize and thank those who have dedicated their careers to serving for the public good and I direct my comments today to them.

“I’m proud now to represent thousands of workers in the public sector. Without you, our public sector workers, civil society would not function. You are there and we all need you – whether we recognize it or not.

“Public workers work – night and day, from keeping on the electricity to clearing the vast system of pipes bringing us fresh water. From fighting fires to keeping the streets safe, from cleaning our parks to processing our drivers licenses, unemployment, worker’s compensation, social security, passports. From teaching our kids from head start to college and apprenticeship, to making sure those public education systems are clean, safe, and function smoothly. From caring for our physical and mental health to building and caring for our park system. From running our elections to running the offices of the people we elect (and being the people we elect!)  From delivering our mail, to delivering our babies, to taking care of our elders. From fixing our roads, driving our buses, ferries, and light rail, to fixing our bridges and our bruised psyches. From caring for our veterans to protecting and defending our rights when they are abridged, to making sure our government offices serve the public every day. Public workers are everywhere – Our cities, counties, and country works because they do the work. And public workers take on the hard fights that so many are afraid to address. Poverty, climate change, racism – you deal with it. You work to make all of our lives better.

“Our public workers are the social safety net. You are also the fabric of our society. The kind of city, of state, of country that we want – one where our children are healthy, fed, and can live up to their potential; one where we have clean air and water; one where no one is homeless or starving; one where the public has a say in our public services – all of this is possible because of the hard working women and men who have dedicated their working lives to public service.

“Attacks on public workers are attacks on all of us. When we recognize and celebrate public workers, when we adequately fund public services – including adequately paying public sector workers, and ensuring they can retire with financial independence and security – we are recognizing that we all do better when public service workers do better.

“On behalf of the WSLC and over 450,000 union members in WA — thank you so much for your service. Thank you for making this city, county, state, and country better. Your work is hard and often thankless, but your commitment, your dedication, and your passion for doing the right thing creates the places where people can thrive. You do the work — our communities work because you do. Thank you so much!”

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