“They’re trying to weaken our union”

Corey Upchurch, 36, is a school bus driver in Washington, DC, his hometown. He started his career in 1999, and became active with his union, AFSCME Local 1959, as an organizer. He’s also a Volunteer Member Organizer. Local 1959 is composed of bus drivers and attendants in DC Public Schools. Upchurch moved up to shop steward, chief shop steward, vice president, and recently became president of his local. He’s also AFSCME Strong.After taking the AFSCME Strong training in Maryland in April, Upchurch has been busy. He says he’s used the summer months, when most kids are on vacation, to talk to his coworkers and apply AFSCME Strong in the workplace. He found a positive response. In three days, he signed up 49 individuals as PEOPLE contributors and got 94 to sign AFSCME Strong cards.

“I basically used the opportunity, with the help of shop stewards, to have conversations with my coworkers,” Upchurch says. “When the drivers are sitting around waiting to bid on their routes, I talked to them about what we need to do to make our union stronger.”

“My strategy is to try to educate them, try to get them to understand what we’re about, what AFSCME is about,” he says. “And what’s going on in other states, with the Koch brothers, with Scott Walker, and all the billionaires trying to downsize unions. I tell them about the Supreme Court, and the case involving union dues (Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association). They’re trying to weaken our union.”

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