Every year on April 22 — Earth Day — communities across the globe celebrate our environment and commit to making it healthy for future generations.

This Earth Day, I’m thinking about the 50,000 AFSCME members who work in green jobs, protecting and caring for our planet. Whether they’re leading nature walks in our county or state parks, making public buildings more energy efficient and resilient to climate disasters, or making sure our waterways are clean, AFSCME members are at the heart of healthy communities.

Mary was a strong and powerful union leader, as well as a long-time leader on the Twin Cities campus, and sister campuses around Minnesota. She started working at the U in 1990 and has been both a clerical and technical employee in the School of Public Health Department of Epidemiology. Through her years in both bargaining units and both locals, she has touched many of our lives. For years, Mary would wear several different “hats” for the local serving as president, treasurer, chief steward and contract negotiation team co-chair.

On the 55th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., AFSCME releases the “I AM Story” podcast, which describes the working conditions faced by AFSCME sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1968 – the year of their historic strike – and connects that seminal event to today’s struggle for economic and racial justice. The podcast also spotlights the ties between the labor and civil rights movements.

AFSCME wholeheartedly supports the newly reintroduced Richard Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act), which would make it easier for workers in the private sector to form strong unions.