September 25, 2023

Spread the Word: Public Service Matters!

Across the country, states, cities and towns are facing massive staffing shortages. The situation in Illinois is no different. Public service workers at every level of government are on the job around the clock, caring for our communities and responding to emergencies. But they need help.

Pandemic job cuts and hiring freezes slashed the public service workforce. Today, the public sector—including teachers, firefighters, probation officers, school bus drivers, CNAs and many more—is still hundreds of thousands of jobs short of pre-pandemic levels. Hiring isn’t happening fast enough to fill vacancies, which is putting a strain on the everyday heroes who keep our communities running.

Council 31 is pressing governmental entities large and small to modernize their hiring systems and work harder to recruit qualified candidates. Progress has been made, but true change has been far too slow.

AFSCME members have had to cope with the dire effects of the staffing crisis for going on two years—often being forced to work excessive amounts of overtime on a regular basis. It’s cost precious time that could have otherwise been spent at Little League games and birthday parties. It’s taken a toll onour mental well-being and our ability to perform our jobs to the best of our abilities.

In the pages of On the Move over the last several months, readers have seen firsthand accounts of the staffing crisis from their fellow union members. AFSCME members have reported crushing overtime; one correctional officer reported routinely working between 50-80 hours of overtime every two weeks. Excessive mandatory overtime has caused marriages to suffer and led to more stress-related illnesses and substance abuse.

Now, AFSCME International has launched a nationwide “Staff the Front Lines” campaign to raise awareness of this crisis and boost hiring in the public service across the country. The moment is ripe to rebuild the public service workforce in states, cities and towns, school districts, residential care facilities, and everywhere in between.

It’s time for each of us to take up the mantle. Let friends and family know that there are thousands of available jobs in the public service that make great careers and offer the stability they need to provide for themselves and their families.

Let’s spread the word together! Public service offers good union jobs with fair pay and attractive benefits.

Amanda Crispen
Rehabilitation Workshop Instructor, Fox Developmental Center
AFSCME Local 1928

Fox Developmental Center has 60 vacancies. Mental health technicians are the highest vacancy title. Apply for jobs with the Illinois Department of Human Services here.

“There’s a lot of room to grow. I started as a mental health technician and have promoted up to where I am now. I’ve been here for 26 years, and in that time, I’ve made a lot of really good friends—not just with staff, but with the individuals, too. And because you know them so well, when their faces light up when you come in in the morning, that’s a great feeling.”



Jeremy Givens
Correctional Lieutenant, Lawrence Correctional Center
Local 3600

Lawrence Correctional Center is currently short some 130 positions.  Learn more about careers in IDOC at the link here.

“The state offers many opportunities. First and foremost is that you become a member of the union. You get brothers and sisters and a family who truly care about you and your safety. That’s something you don’t see anywhere else. Through the Upward Mobility Program, you get the opportunity, training and resources you need to promote up like I did.”


Iris Glover
School Bus Driver, Carterville School District
Local 1273

There are 8 vacancies for bus drivers in Carterville out of 13 total positions. Learn how to apply to be a bus driver in Carterville here.

“It’s a great job, especially if you’re looking for a part-time job that allows you a lot of flexibility during the day. We’re off on all holidays, and you can have summers off if you want them, or you can continue to work and get paid. It’s your choice. If we have any problems, the union helps us solve them.”



Chris Muncey
Account Supervisor, LaSalle Veterans' Home
Local 3693

The LaSalle Veterans’ Home today has 130 employees. At full staffing, the home should have nearly 180. Apply for jobs in the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs here.

“The benefits of being a state employee are outstanding in comparison to the private sector. Being a part of a union family provides us with job stability and security. It provides us with excellent pay and benefits and a retirement plan. Most of the people who work here stay here for their entire career because the work is so rewarding. It’s a great honor to serve the veterans who have served this country.”

Timothy Olaosebikan
Direct Support Professional, Ray Graham Association
Local 3492

The Ray Graham Association, where AFSCME members care for people with disabilities, is short roughly 50 positions out of 300 total. Apply for jobs at the Ray Graham Association here.

“We have great benefits, like our medical insurance, and we have attractive bonuses and holiday pay because of our union. We have floating holidays, personal time off and sick time, but most importantly, the union is always there for us when we need someone to have our back. We feel like this work is a call to duty. We all look at the individuals as part of our family, which gives us all a purpose to come into work every day.”

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