Student Sees Freedom in Unions

Dylan Evans (photo courtesy of the Evans/Johnson family)
Dylan Evans (photo courtesy of the Evans/Johnson family)

Dylan Evans, the son of Local 34 members James Evans and Julia Johnson, won the AFSCME Clarence J. Moss Scholarship. We are happy to share his powerful essay here:

Years ago, I sat in on some meetings of this labor union, as a Boy Scout for the American Labor Merit Badge.
I remember that everyone in that room was telling me about what an important topic that American labor is and how great it is that youth are getting involved. Now that I am older, I know what they meant.

Labor unions stand up for fair wages. I have seen the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, firsthand give back to the community at Bridging, and I had the honor of having joined them for this particular occasion. I know that they have helped to raise wages, shorten hours and provide supplemental benefits. In a way, it has put a roof over my head as both of my parents are part of this labor union. The union has been there to defend them as employees and to help provide a fair wage. Now, it moves for the protection of their retirement. That wage has not only helped to give me a home, but a home where I could go to a blue ribbon school, Saint Anthony Village High School, where I am a part of the National Honor Society.

The freedoms that labor unions advocate for are more than our rights, they are our civil liberties. It is what we do to help other people at all times, and to be prepared for whatever life throws at us. It is why we must be active citizens in the process and be aware of the way that labor affects our lives. When we look at the news, we see people who are defending those personal liberties. For instance, in Arizona, we see students learning about labor in a very powerful way as their teachers strike.

In the future, I plan to become a part of a labor union: This fall, I am starting at North Hennepin Community College, where I will go for my associate degree. Then, I will transfer to St. Cloud State University for my bachelor’s degree so I can go into environmental studies. I want to be a conservation officer or a water treatment specialist.

In these occupations, I will be defending our natural resources, as AFSCME defends the resource of laboring workers within the public sector.  The main reason behind both of our missions is to ensure that this world we live in is simply a better place to live tomorrow for those who come after us. It is a mission for justice and democracy and for the American dream. This is what I believe that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. meant when he said that “the labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress.”

Richard Patterson Scholarship winner: Lilia Honsvall, daughter of Local 3998’s Susan Honsvall.

Robert Norberg Scholarship winners: Kyle Aure and Sara Clark, Local 4001.