AFSCME Norfolk Fund the Front Lines Committee Kicks Off Membership Drive

City of Norfolk employees across departments have been building support to form a union with AFSCME for over a year.  AFSCME members from the city of Norfolk joined AFSCME members nationwide to ensure the passage of the CARES Act and most recently the American Rescue Plan by making calls and sending emails to Congress. City of Norfolk employees helped secure millions of dollars in federal relief funds for the city. The AFSCME Fund the Front Lines Committee is joining with thousands of AFSCME Virginia members who are fighting for a strong workplace union and a real voice at work. Members advocated for hazard/thank you pay, along with health and safety workplace protections  the committee is already making a difference 

After several attempts to be recognized by the city manager or council, the committee took it to the next level by kicking off their official AFSCME Membership Drive culminating in a gathering on June 12 at Poplar Hall Park. Committee leaders, coworkers and their families broke bread together as they had conversations about the importance of standing together at workThroughout the kickoff week, the committee deepened the commitment of over 100 coworkers ready to form their union by signing membership cards.  

AFSCME Fund the Frontlines Committee members sponsored the event creating a space where coworkers could talk about the need for a workplace union and their own concerns around organizing. “Employees need to feel safe talking about organizing, especially when its something they may not fully understand, said committee leader Velma Owens, the city’s first female crew leader for Hydrants. They need to be able to speak with people they know and trust. That’s why this kickoff is so important.” 

On May 1, Virginia law (HB 582) gave localities across the commonwealth the right to develop their own collective bargaining ordinances expanding public employees' rights. Unfortunately, the Norfolk city council has ignored repeated attempts by AFSCME committee members to engage in building an ordinance. City employees have not given up – they hope to show the city they have overwhelming support for a union and demand their workplace rights recognized.  

The first step in showing that support is having employees sign up to be members of AFSCME Virginia. “We are tired of being ignored when we raise concerns. We haven’t seen a real raise in years and as loyal city employees we deserve to speak up and offer our input, and we won’t be ignored anymore,” Priscilla Brown an employee with Solid Waste and AFSCME Committee member explained. “Just because they won’t listen to us doesn’t mean we stop trying. When we show that most city of Norfolk employees support a union, they will have to recognize us.” 

AFSCME Norfolk committee members are hard at work, planning multiple opportunities to speak with city employees from across departments and job titles including weekly meetings, site visits, and other events in the community. If you are interested in learning more, please click here or check out our website at