By Lee Saunders
Public service isn’t just a job; it’s a calling.
Every single day all across the country, hardworking men and women go the extra mile to provide professional, first-class services to their communities. During Public Service Recognition Week, we all should take a moment to extend our thanks to those who have made a career out of helping and empowering their neighbors. It’s not just what they do for a living; it’s who they are as people.
No one gets rich or famous doing this work. If it were their goal to make a million dollars or get a million Twitter followers, public service workers would have chosen a different path. Instead, they’re focused on picking up the garbage, maintaining our infrastructure, answering 911 calls and a whole lot more. They work in our hospitals, prisons and libraries. They manage our recreational areas and patrol our streets. They are the home care providers looking after our seniors and people with disabilities. They are the behavioral health workers on the front lines of the nation’s opioid crisis. They are essential to a strong education system, from pre-k and child care to our colleges and universities.
And when they come together and organize in a union like AFSCME, they amplify their voices and command the respect they deserve. They not only negotiate for a fair return on their work, they use their power in numbers to fight for investments and improvements their communities need — like smaller class sizes, better nurse-to-patient ratios and improved equipment for EMTs.
Many of them are government employees at the federal, state and local levels; others work for private companies that provide public services. But regardless of who signs the check, these everyday heroes assume huge responsibilities without any fuss or fanfare. They’re relatively anonymous, but they always answer the call.
They do the work — often unsung, underappreciated work — that makes America happen. And regardless of the challenges or obstacles they face, they never quit.
If you know an AFSCME member who stands out for their extraordinary service and sacrifice, nominate him or her for a Never Quit Service award.
Lee Saunders is President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.