Looking Back… and Forward

January 1, 1978. Jimmy Carter was President, the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love” topped the charts, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees gained 157 new members in Corvallis, Oregon. AFSCME membership would surpass one million that year.

The Gazette-Times reported on December 20, 1977 that contract negotiations would begin that January between the City and AFSCME.

When we joined AFSCME, following Benton County (1970) and Albany (1976), American union membership was nearing its peak. In 1979, an estimated 21 million American workers belonged to a union. In contrast, in 2020 that number was 14 million.

Much has changed in the last 44 years but, today we remain a part of AFSCME, and come next January will once again begin contract negotiations with the City. The faces have changed, the buildings have been renovated, but the fight for fair wages and good benefits remains the same. 

I have begun researching the early years of AFSCME Local 2975. If any readers know members from the old days, I would be interested in speaking with them. My email address is [email protected].

The accompanying photograph shows a framed copy of our original charter, as signed by AFSCME International’s second president, Jerry Wurf, and members of the International Executive Board.