We Are AME
by Irene Kelly
The Association of Municipal Employees is the largest independent union in the state of New York.
AME represents a large majority of Suffolk County Government workers in areas such as the Child Support Enforcement Bureau, Consumer Affairs, Civil Service, Crossing Guards, District Attorney, Finance & Technology, Family Services, Fire Rescue Emergency Services, Health Services, Labor Dept, Medicaid, Medical Examiners, Parks Dept, Patient Care, Police Civilian, Police Emergency, Public Works, Sheriff/Probation Civilians, Social Services, Suffolk County Community College, Vector Control... .and more.
AME represents over 6,000 Active AND over 4,000 Retired Suffolk County Workers.
We are the workers who are the backbone of Suffolk County Government.....we maintain the County roads/bridges and we plow the snow off them in the winter; we spray for mosquitos in the summer; we provide much needed public services for the Health Department-Family Services-Child Support Enforcement and Social Services; we are the Crossing Guards that ensure your child's safety; we process your tuition for SCCC; we maintain and clean the County Buildings; we maintain the County Parks that you and your family enjoy; we are the 911 operators and Fire Rescue Operators who assist you in times of emergencies; we inspect local restaurants to ensure food handling/preparation standards are being met; we test your water to maintain the water quality.....and so much more. We are your friends, your colleagues, your neighbors.....
Before there was an AME, Suffolk County workers were represented by CSEA. But as Local 852, their voice was hardly heard in Albany. In 1983, CSEA tried to take over the Local's Benefit Fund. This led to the leadership being suspended from union activities and, finally, to a successful de-certification effort. The next step was to be certified as the official bargaining agent for affected county workers, all 8,500 of them.
In 1984, the membership overwhelmingly elected their past leadership from Local 852 to head AME. They adopted a new constitution and bylaws and the dream of an independent union became a reality. The Benefit Fund was protected and a new era was about to begin for Suffolk County workers. As an official Union, headquarters were established, staff hired, committees formed, and the work of representing Suffolk County employees started. The battle to protect our Benefit Fund has fostered its growth to $26 million dollars today.
History of AME Logo
Thirty years ago, our local union leaders became increasingly frustrated with the representation this statewide organization was offering to the employees of Suffolk County. Meetings became difficult and resulted in the suspension of the President and three Executives Board Officers for their refusal to relinquish control of the Benefit Fund. At a subsequent meeting, one of our local union leaders stated that, “We should start our own union”.
This simple statement caught fire and soon became a movement with the county employees. More and more members wanted to get involved in any way they could. All were committed to the success of this new union.
Norman Boher, a member working at the Department of Public Works, wanted to design a logo that would be instantly recognizable and reflect the ideals of this new organization. He used a pyramid design because he believed it denoted strength. The colors of our flag, were used to embody the principals of freedom and independence. The letters AME, it was decided, would signify the foundation of the pyramid. Each side of the pyramid were inextricably woven to stand for the three decision making bodies of AME. In essence, they are the Executive Board, Board of Directors and the Convention Delegates. The three stars on the logo stand for the three forms of government that direct us and which we, as county employees, enforce. They are the Federal, State and County governments. The red waving “E” represents the ever-changing membership. It also points out that current and future leaders should be prepared for the challenges ahead.