Hundreds of AFSCME activists get fired up at Denver organizing summit

Hundreds of AFSCME activists get fired up at Denver organizing summit

Anthony Lockhart. Photo: Miriam Harris

DENVER – More than 225 AFSCME volunteer member organizers (VMOs) from across the country came to Denver last weekend to participate in AFSCME’s 2023 Organizing Summit. It was a powerful opportunity for members to connect and learn more about the backbone of our union: organizing.

The weekend culminated in an army of VMOs going out all over the Denver area to knock on doors and talk to Colorado county workers about the power of being in a union.

For Anthony Lockhart, an elementary school custodian in Cleveland (AFSCME Local 181 (OAPSE)), it was a chance to learn more about how to build AFSCME’s power.

“I’ve been a local president for over 20 years but I’ve never been a VMO,” he said. “This weekend inspired me to go out and continue making our union stronger – not only at my local but all over the country.”

To kick off the weekend, AFSCME President Lee Saunders paid a visit and got members energized and ready for an exciting weekend.

“This is your union – you must lead the way in building it. It all comes down to you,” he said. “You need to take ownership of our collective future. We need you – your passion, your energy, your activism.”

AFSCME VMOs did just that.

 Miriam Harris

On Saturday, they fanned out to knock on doors and visit the Colorado county workers, who won the right to collectively bargain last year. The new law goes into effect on July 1, so VMOs talked to over 200 workers about the difference a union can make and the power of having a voice at your workplace.

On Sunday, VMOs attended panel discussions and workshops to hone their skills in recruiting new members. AFSCME members from all over the country shared insights from their own experiences in their locals. One of the activities had members write down and share their biggest victory from their local.

By the end of the weekend, the back wall of the convention hall was covered with AFSCME victories from across the country. The successful summit provided a valuable opportunity for VMOs to learn and make connections and gave them a chance to be directly involved in strengthening our union.

“It’s important for workers to connect with AFSCME members because we may work different jobs, but we have the same experiences,” said Roslyn Davis, a 911 operator in Los Angeles and a member of AFSCME Local 3090. “To be a part of this union, it gives you support, it gives you insight. It’s all about education and learning.”