June 03, 2020

AFSCME interviews Cedric Alexander

Cedric Alexander Psy. D. is a law enforcement expert with over 40 years of experience in public service. He is the author of In Defense of Public Service: How 22 Million Government Workers Will Save Our Republic.

What is the role of public service in our society, why is it important?

Public service plays a huge role in maintaining our democracy and our republic every day. One thing about elected officials, they change every few years, but our public servants are there during every administration. Our career public employees take it on the chin for us every day, they keep us safe and they keep our country a democracy.

It’s important to recognize our public servants because so often they go unrecognized, are taken for granted, not paid what they’re worth. But in critical times we need them the most. If we go back to a couple years ago to the government shutdown, in spite of the fact that those employees didn’t receive paychecks for weeks on end, they came to work every day.

And in this moment, COVID-19 has shut down our country—but our public employees are keeping the lights on for us, keeping our community safe and providing the necessary services we need to get past this pandemic.

What role do unions play in public safety and quality public services?

I’ve never been a member of a union because policing in the south is not a union environment. But when we rely on employees to carry out missions that need to be done every day, those employees need a sense of safety, they need a fair, equitable, and competitive salary, and great benefits for themselves and their families. Unions are very important to the strength of this nation and to the employees they serve.

How can public service workers prevent burnout, especially in this trying time?

That’s a huge challenge for everyone, particularly in the public service community. Regardless if you’re an EMT, a corrections officer, a local government employee, there’s a limited number of personnel budgeted for those communities. None of us could have prepared for what we’re experiencing today. We’re asking people to work longer hours and be exposed to an invisible enemy none of us can see. In spite of the dangers involved, public servants still abide by their oath and do the very best that they can. We’re figuring this out as we go, and our public servants know they can’t stop. They must get out there on the frontlines to fight this enemy every day and that’s what they’re doing. We cannot take care of those afflicted by this disease if we don’t take care of our public servants who are providing the support that’s needed.

How will government workers save our republic?

My new book, In Defense of Public Service: How 22 Million Government Workers Will Save Our Republic, is written with local, state, federal, tribal and military employees in mind. The book is dedicated to them, to remind the American public of the great work they do and have done. To have a democracy in which we live in freedom doesn’t come at a cheap price. The 22 million people who provide service to the other 300 million people are critical to our infrastructure, our democracy and our republic.

I encourage everyone to get a copy—read about yourself, read about your history. It’s written for you by someone like you who worked in government all their career, from the ground to the highest level of government. 

Follow Cedric on Twitter @calex_law and learn more at

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