The 2020 Census is a big deal: for AFSCME members, our families, our communities and the public services we provide.
Think of your morning commute: Census results influence highway planning and construction, as well as grants for public transit systems.
Think of your local schools: Census counts help determine how money is distributed for programs like Head Start and for grants that support teachers and special education classrooms.
Think of our health care system: Census counts determine how federal funds are spent in your state on Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
The list goes on: funding for rural economic development, housing assistance for older adults, preparation for natural disasters. The results of the 2020 Census will determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding flow into our communities for the next 10 years.
The United States Census is a constitutionally-mandated, nationwide count of all the people living in our country, not just citizens. And not just adults: babies, children and teens are included as well. It takes place every 10 years. It’s confidential. It takes only a few minutes to complete. And an accurate count matters for the resources our communities need.
Here are some big reasons an accurate count matters for AFSCME members and everyone:
- A Fair Share of Federal Funding: Federal spending in each state – including over $1.5 trillion in 2017 – depends heavily on census data. Without an accurate Census count, kids who need nutrition assistance won’t get it. People who need job training won’t get it. Schools that need resources won’t get them.
- Access to Health Care: Reduced Medicaid funding would harm our most vulnerable neighbors – the elderly, children from low-income families and people with disabilities.
- Quality of Life in Your Community: Data is used to determine how public dollars are allocated among schools, roads, local parks, fire departments and other public services.
- Fair Representation: Census data is used to redistribute seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, based on changes in population.
Everyone deserves to be counted. But, historically, many communities slip through the cracks of the Census, including young children, multi-generational households, minority communities, households with limited Internet access, and households with undocumented immigrants and recent immigrants.
AFSCME members across the country are stepping up to make sure every person is counted.
- In New York, CSEA/AFSCME Local 1000 is reaching out to working and retired members at local membership meetings. Their “Be Counted!” campaign is raising awareness of the Census and encouraging participation. Click here and scroll down to the “Downloadable Resources” section to view the online resources they have made available to members in multiple languages.
- AFSCME District Council 37 has developed a map with an overview of AFSCME members in “hard-to-count” populations – like the ones I mentioned above that are at risk of being under-counted. This spring, when they are knocking on doors for AFSCME-endorsed political candidates, they will also be reminding people to fill out their Census forms.
- UDW/AFSCME Local 3930 has partnered with central labor councils across California to assist with canvassing campaigns, helping to ensure a fair and accurate Census count throughout their communities. And during membership meetings, they are educating fellow AFSCME members on the importance of being counted in the 2020 Census.
- OAPSE/AFSCME Local 4 member and Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Councilmember Davida Russell has made the 2020 Census one of her top priorities since being elected to public office in November. She’s hitting the streets, partnering with local businesses – bars, restaurants, hair salons – in a communitywide effort to ensure every resident is counted. Each business participating in the “Count Me In” campaign has an official “Count Me In” decal in their window, a wall poster with Census instructions, and employees will ask customers if they have completed their Census form. And if they have not, customers will be encouraged to complete the Census on the spot, using their phone.
Will you join them? As an AFSCME leader, you have the power to make sure your community is counted. Here are a few ways:
- Share information on your local’s website or Facebook page. Here are a couple of great resources to start with: The National Conference of State Legislature: 2020 Census Talking Points and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: The Census Counts Campaign.
- Use all available member communication mechanisms – including meetings, emails and face-to-face conversations – to dispel myths about the Census and make sure members know why the Census matters and how to be counted.
- If you work in a library or other public-facing entity, make sure that entity is educating the public about the whys and hows of the Census.
The 2020 Census is happening now. You can respond online, by phone, or by mail. Click here to learn how.
AFSCME’s 1.4 million members share a common commitment to public service. We fight for fairness in the workplace, at the bargaining table, in our communities and in the halls of government. But that can only happen with an accurate Census count.
Written By Elissa McBride