In Connecticut or Louisiana, the Fight Is the Same

Roughly 1,500 miles separate Hartford, Connecticut from Angola, Louisiana, but if one Council 4 Corrections Officer’s journey is any indication, those areas are closer than you think – especially in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s anti-union decision in Janus v. AFSCME.

Be sure to watch the brief video on this page featuring Leighton's reflections on why "Right to Work for Less" is harmful.

Leighton Vanderburgh of AFSCME Local 1565 (State NP-4 Corrections) recently served as a volunteer organizer at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola, the largest maximum-security prison in the United States. 

“We went to Louisiana to help our members and to strengthen the union by recruiting new members,” Vanderburgh said. “We were well received. Things down there are really not good.”

Vanderburgh is among the volunteer organizers who have dedicated time to AFSCME’s campaign to build strength within Local 3056, which is part of Louisiana Council 17, and represents workers at Angola. These organizers participated in workplace blitzes to meet with workers and sign up those who were not yet AFSCME members.

“It was an eye-opener,” Vanderburgh, a Council 4 Vice President, explained. “Louisiana corrections employees weren’t even getting paid overtime when they were mandated to work.”

Conditions are steadily improving at Angola and other state facilities. Corrections employees recently received long overdue pay raises. They are finally getting paid overtime when the employer requires them to work overtime. And non-members are signing up to become full dues-paying members as they recognize that the union is their clearest path to building and sustaining workplace power.

Talking one-to-one with his fellow corrections workers at Angola reinforced for Vanderburgh the importance of organizing against the campaign by wealthy extremists to destroy the freedom of workers to come together and bargain collectively for a fair return on their work.

“Louisiania is what I call a ‘Right to Work for Less’ state,” he reflected. “Their wages are low, their benefits are practically non-existent,” he reflected. “The only support they have is when they band together [and] make things better through the union.”

Even though “Right to Work for Less” is now the law of the land, Council 4 and its local unions are making sure we stay “AFSCME Strong” by having the same conversations in Connecticut that Vanderburgh and his fellow organizers had at Angola.

Be sure to watch the brief video on this page featuring Leighton's reflections on why "Right to Work for Less" is harmful.