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AFSCME Member Killed While Working in Racine

AFSCME brother Mark Gates was killed on December 14 while doing his job in Racine. A Local 67 member, brother Gates was not only a dedicated employee serving the citizens of Racine, he was a leader in his faith community. Gates was a beloved pastor at Christ Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Racine. Gates was collecting recyclables when he was struck by a car that ran into the back of his truck. The driver of the car, a 20-year-old Racine man, has been charged with homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle. "This is a horrible tragedy and our heart goes out to brother Gates' family, friends, coworkers and congregation. Everybody deserves to be safe on the job. Public service employees like Mark Gates put themselves at risk every day to keep their communities clean and safe. They deserve not only our thanks, but our respect," said Council 32 Executive Director Rick Badger. We will share additional information about this tragedy as soon as we know more.

Group Insurance Board Delays Self-Insurance Decision

Wisconsin's Group Insurance Board on December 13 decided to delay until at least January making a recommendation about the Walker administration's self-insurance plan. The delay is welcome news. AFSCME argues that now would be a perilous time to launch such a radical change in Wisconsin's health care system. With the newly elected president eager to blow up the Affordable Care Act, health care already is facing turbulent times. Add to this the Walker administration's record of mismanagement (consider the smoldering mess that is Walker's flagship economic development agency) and it's clear that Wisconsin employees and taxpayers have no reason to believe this administration will get it right. Self-insurance would remove the families of 250,000 employees from coverage now offered by the 17 health maintenance organizations that now compete for state business. Industry experts warn that a sudden loss of this magnitude could reduce the number of insurers serving all Wisconsin citizens, and this could mean less competition and higher costs all around.

Still Time to Find or Become Candidate for Local Office

Cities, towns, counties and school districts all across Wisconsin will be electing or re-electing leaders on April 4, 2017. Candidates are now collecting signatures needed to be on the ballot. It's not too late to become a candidate, or encourage somebody you know to run. Initial paperwork, including nomination papers, must be turned in by 5 p.m. on January 3. If enough candidates file for an office, a primary on February 21 will be held to reduce the field for the April 4 election. Wisconsin has a good and growing network of resources to help pro-worker candidates win local elections. Contact Council 32 Organizer John Smallwood at if you want to know more or know a potentially good candidate who needs a nudge.