AMSP Leader Urges Colleagues to be Union Strong




Andre Morrow spent the last 17 years running San Jose’s sports programs and, most recently, beautifying its parks.  Sometimes, he’s done that while wearing a purple Minnesota Vikings sweatshirt or an Ohio State ball cap.  But he’s always done it with passion and energy.

In March, the Maintenance Supervisor reached that golden milestone: retirement!

And after 30 years of membership in various unions, Andre has a message for colleagues carrying on his public service creed:  Union Strong.

At 18, Andre was a porter at the Honolulu Airport.  One day, he was working a 24-hour shift because of a special event, loading and unloading suitcases and bags for 24 hours.  His boss didn’t like the way he was lining up the bags, and fired him on the spot.

“My Union rep filed an objection to the firing and the 24 hours worked without a break, and I received an apology from upper management,” Andre said.  “To know one minute, I didn’t have a job, and the next, I had one.  I knew I wanted to be a Member of an organization that’s going to protect you and they did.”

Andre also experienced life without a union.  During his 12 years working at the San Jose State University Student Union, he was not covered under a union contract, but his group received whatever compensation and benefits package the other unionized workers negotiated.

“We dearly benefited from the work of Unions,” Andre remembers.

As Local 21’s Association of Maintenance Supervisory Personnel’s Sergeant-at-Arms from 2007-18, Andre has seen favorable and concessionary bargaining at the City of San Jose.  He understands the threats like Janus vs. AFSCME present to the survival of Unions.

“If I could continue to pay dues, I would,” said the father of six.  “If people don’t stay with the Union, we won’t have the negotiating power we have now.  We need to keep paying dues to fight Big Brother, the Koch brothers, whatever.  If they’re going to come after pensions, don’t think they won’t come after retirees.  I watch the teachers and hospital workers strike and it’s great to see people are refusing to let others weaken Unions.”

Attacking unions usually comes with an assault on public service in general. 

Throughout his years in private and public industry landscaping, woodworking, screen printing, or managing maintenance personnel, Andre’s worked to serve the public.

“My mom was always a big activist for neighborhoods, she always loved to give back to the community,” he said.  “Giving to the community, whether it’s volunteering working for the public, it’s important.  It’s important to my family.  My wife, three sons and daughter are City employees.”

In retirement, Andre plans to travel and spend time with his dad and ever-expanding family.  Weight lifting and the occasional trip to Reno are also on the docket.   And the South San Jose resident hasn’t ruled out running for school board or parks commission.

“The work isn’t done.”