First stop for AFSCME’s Staff the Front Lines bus tour: Rochester, N.Y.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – AFSCME’s Staff the Front Lines national bus tour got underway Monday with a stop in this western New York city.

Mayor Malik Evans, Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and New York Assemblymember Harry Bronson joined AFSCME Council 66 members to encourage New Yorkers to apply for open public service jobs.

Council 66 and the City of Rochester partnered on a Union Job Fair in May, and the council will soon launch a website to help New Yorkers easily find open union jobs in the public sector.

From nurses to sanitation workers to corrections officers, chronic short staffing is undermining the effective delivery of public services that people in this country rely on. That’s why AFSCME launched the Staff the Front Lines initiative this year, to partner with elected officials on recruiting and retaining the essential workers who keep our communities running.

The Staff the Front Lines bus will stop and hold recruitment events in more than 20 major cities across the country this summer.

Mike Rivera, president of AFSCME Local 1635 (Council 66), said that the staffing shortages go beyond Rochester.

“We are all here today because we know New York doesn’t run without public service workers. And right now, we need more. A lot more. There are countless job openings for anyone who wants to make a difference in their community while also being able to provide for themself and for their family,” he said.

Mayor Evans said AFSCME employees provide excellent services for Rochester residents, but they need help.

“We have some very important job openings. All of these are critical positions that are open,” Evans said. “And guess what? They pay good wages. They give great benefits. And they help move people who may not be in the middle class up to the middle class.”

County Executive Bello echoed that sentiment, saying, “There’s never been a better time to start a career in public service. We know the job market is competitive, but we have been putting in place incentives to make county government even more appealing. Just last year, we instituted $1,000 quarterly retention pay for all our full-time workers. We also give all our new employees the same benefit.”

Assemblymember Harry Bronson said AFSCME members keep city, county and state governments running, but are stretched thin.

“We know that you took a lot of hits after the great recession that really hurt our public service workers. And then we had the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ve been on the front lines. Now it’s our job in government to make sure we fully staff the front lines. So, let’s get that message out: We need you. We need you to join the front lines with AFSCME,” he said.

AFSCME member and 911 Dispatcher Tawanda Ciccone put a face on the staffing crisis. The Rochester native said she and her colleagues often work 16 hours straight to make up for the shortage of 911 operators.

“The workload is simply unsustainable,” she said. “We need help. I’ve been in this role for more than 24 years. I can tell you wholeheartedly that if you apply for a job in public service, you won’t regret it. ... And thanks to the benefits we receive, I know I can provide for his future.”

To learn more about AFSCME’s national bus tour, visit