Local 348 History


The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) was formed in 1932 as a small group of white-collar professional state employees met in Madison and formed an association to combat a move to return the Wisconsin civil service system to the days of a political patronage system. These employees formed the Wisconsin State Administrative, Clerical, Fiscal and Technical Employees Association, soon to be known as the Wisconsin State Employees Association (WSEA). By 1935, the association was known as AFSCME, led by Arnold Zander. AFSCME received its own charter from the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in September 1936 and has been on the scene ever since.Following WWII, AFSCME began a concentrated push to ensure the rights of public workers and to obtain collective bargaining rights for those workers. The first turning point was reached in 1958 when New York Mayor Robert Wagner signed an executive order granting collective bargaining rights to unions representing city employees. AFSCME’s emphasis on collective bargaining and improving living standards, with a call to fair and equal treatment, forced several states to pass general collective bargaining laws. AFSCME became involved with the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s, and has been at the forefront of the battle ever since.

AFSCME turned to political action in the late 1960s in an effort to increase its effectiveness and to organize new members. By 1990, AFSCME membership was over 1.2 million and AFSCME has continued to grow.   AFSCME has a powerful voice in national political and social issues and has helped to shape policy on the issues that affect American workers and families (Working Families).

Most recently (2007), AFSCME fought for the right of child care workers to organize. Child care providers now have the right to negotiate payments with the State of Wisconsin and will have a voice in future regulatory issues.

AFSCME Local 348 represents clerical, dispatch, health care, and library workers who work for Portage County and the City of Stevens Point in Wisconsin. Local 348 employees have seen many changes in the last two decades, not the least of which are the continued threats to privatize government services. AFSCME (and other union employees) face opposition from County Board and management members who fail to recognize the valuable asset employees represent and prefer to see union members as enemies.

Local 348 members have been asked to take wage freezes, hiring freezes, and layoffs even during the years when private and other public employee unions (including the university system) were receiving pay increases of 7 – 8% per year. The trade-off at the time was for health insurance and job security. AFSCME members at the Health Care Center agreed to a wage freeze and the implementation of a four-year wage schedule in the late 1980s in order to get language in the Labor Agreement that prohibited the County from selling the County Health Care Facility.   Local 348 has successfully fought to maintain health care benefits without allowing a large shift in the cost to employees. Local 348 has also been successful in overturning terminations without just cause and getting the employees their jobs back.

Local 348 has worked to develop a more cooperative relationship with Portage County in recognition of the changing economic climate. Local 348 believes that employee-management relationships need not be adversarial and that, by working together, both the union and the County can benefit.   Working together will allow us to better serve the needs of the public.

In the coming years, AFSCME Local 348 will be more involved in local politics as a means of ensuring job, wage, and benefits security.   Local 348, along with other area and national unions, is committed to fighting privatization and the loss of jobs and benefits and will continue its fight.  AFSCME will cooperate with local and state organizations to address the issues that face all employees and their families.

The gains made by AFSCME, other public sector unions, and private sector unions benefit all employees by forcing market conditions upward. Non-unionized employers are forced to offer comparable wages and benefits in order to attract and retain employees. Both public and private sector unions work for the common good of all employees.

Both public and private sector unions need to adapt to the changing economic and political climates.   Globalization, technology changes, and population/demographic changes dramatically increase the necessity for all unions to be politically active and to establish cooperative working relationships with management. Public and private sector unions should be leading the fight for human, civil, and worker rights around the world – both as a matter of survival, and because it’s the right thing to do.

AFSCME will continue to exist as an organization, even in the face of the restrictive and damaging changes to collective bargaining made by Governor Scott Walker. Council 40, Council 24, Council 48 have unifed into Council 32 in order to better pool resources.  Council 32 and AFSCME International will fight these changes and we will one day restore full bargaining rights for public employees in the State of Wisconsin. AFSCME has partnered with other advocacy groups in a coalition that purposes to improve the working and economic conditions for all people and to foster a political and economic environment that truly works for the people.

In order to keep up the fight and restore our rights, it is important for members to  pay dues. Current and future employees will benefit as we win this fight for the working class.   Following is information on how to pay your dues:

As part of the program to continue to build a strong union and Fight to Take Back Our Rights, Council 32 has introduced a  secure on-line site for members to use to sign-up for alternative dues payment system if their employer has ended dues check-off. This system will allow members to arrange payment by electronic bank draft, debit or credit card.

To use the system you select the type of membership category, full-time, part-time (20 hrs or fewer), school year full-time, school year part-time (20 hrs or fewer) or seasonal. Fill out the personal information, select the appropriate dues and then choose the method of payment.

You can also choose to make voluntary contributions to the AFSCME PEOPLE fund. AFSCME PEOPLE uses these contributions for political purposes, including, but not limited to, making contributions to and expenditures on behalf of candidates who support working families

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