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Community Advocacy Organization

AFSCME’s Staff the Front Lines bus tour makes stop in Lansing to help fill open public service jobs

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, state officials, joined AFSCME members to sound the alarm on the public service staffing crisis; discussed hiring strategies with workers during listening session

Graphic by Charity Treat

Today, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II and AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Elissa McBride joined members of AFSCME Council 25 and the Michigan State Employees Association (MSEA) to encourage Michiganders to apply for open public service jobs. This press conference marked the second stop on the national Staff the Front Lines bus tour, which will make its way across the country this summer. Prior to the press conference, Lt. Governor Gilchrist's team, along with State Senator John Cherry, State Representative Jim Haadsma and other state officials, met with AFSCME members for a listening session. During this time, state leaders and workers discussed strategies to fill vacant public service jobs throughout Michigan. From nurses to sanitation workers to corrections officers, chronic short-staffing is undermining the effective delivery of public services that Michiganders across the state rely on. That’s why AFSCME launched the Staff the Front Lines initiative this year, to partner with elected officials on recruiting and retaining the essential workers who keep our communities running. The Staff the Front Lines bus will stop and hold recruitment events in more than 20 major cities across the country this summer. CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS AND VIDEO FROM THE EVENT Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II said: “Public service is unique. The choice to put your professional time in service of the people whom you live with and live around, that is such an emotional commitment to community. That is something that must be understood and rewarded. And with conversations that we’re having with the Staff the Front Lines tour, we are realizing what it takes to make sure that another generation of people step up and choose this as a profession, a vocation and a commitment. Governor Gretchen Whitmer and I work alongside all of you, shoulder to shoulder, using the tools that you and the voters of Michigan gave us to make sure that we can make life better for these workers.” AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Elissa McBride said: “I’m going to start with a number: 959,000. That’s the population of Detroit, Flint and Lansing combined, but it’s also the number of vacancies in public sector jobs in the United States. Every day those positions go unfilled, our communities, our loved ones and our families suffer – and that’s why we need to solve this staffing crisis. We’re honored to partner with elected officials who are committed to finding solutions with us.... And we're going to figure out solutions, because we know the difference public service makes.” AFSCME Council 25 President Lawrence Roehrig said: “The hundreds of different jobs that make our lives better...are performed by people who love their jobs and are willing to talk about it. We are here to tell you that we are trying to match jobs to people who want to be part of this solution. You have to have positions filled, and you have to have partners fill those positions. We’re lucky to have elected officials and others...who make it a good thing to be a public employee.” Council 25 Member and Flint Street Operator and Maintainer Sam Muma said: “America cut a bunch of important public service jobs during the Great Recession. Jobs of city workers like me, who keep our water clean, our streets safe and our communities healthy. Now we need to work on filling these public service jobs, and going further than that. On top of making our communities better, these are good union jobs with great benefits, and retirement and job security. My message to folks sitting at home is simple: we need dedicated people like you to join us in public service – especially in Flint, Michigan.” MSEA Member and Department of Natural Resources worker Jacob Brown said: “My work, and the work of all my union siblings in the Department of Natural Resources, is essential in maintaining Michigan’s natural beauty. Hikers depend on us to build and maintain Michigan state parks, hunters rely on us to preserve the ranges, and families who want to go camping or visit lake Michigan on a hot day also depend on us to keep those spaces clean and beautiful. But the truth is, we need more workers to ensure that our pristine environment stays that way. These are good union jobs. The benefits have allowed me to raise a family while doing a job that I absolutely love. And let’s be clear, this is a job you will fall in love with. Imagine watching the sun set over lake Michigan at the end of every shift, imagine being able to get fresh air and see nature every day – it’s incredible.” To learn more about AFSCME’s national bus tour, visit

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