Let’s stand together against Janus
By WAYNE SPENCE
This month, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in a case that could have far-reaching impact on the labor movement in the United States.
Known as Janus v. AFSCME, this case is a blatant attack on working people by wealthy “right-to-work” groups that want to take away workers’ freedom to come together to collectively bargain and negotiate for a better life.
The court will decide whether to overturn a requirement that public employees pay an agency, or “fair share,” fee to help cover the costs of such things as negotiating contracts or filing grievances, even if they don’t choose to actually join the union. The goal here is to cripple unions by draining union resources, resulting in a dramatic weakening of union power and turning New York into a “right-to-work” state. And, by the way, don’t be fooled by the misnomer right-to-work. What that really means is the right to work for less!
Here’s what’s really at stake for us:
• Negotiating a fair contract – Our capacity to negotiate and enforce a strong contract will be limited if employees represented by PEF, but who don’t join the union, are not required to pay their fair share.
• Privatization of our jobs – Contracting out and privatization of our services are increasing. A strong and committed union membership is necessary to aggressively fight this pattern.
• Cuts to federal funding – We must maintain federal funding for programs in our state agencies.
• Our freedom as working people to come together, speak up for each other, and build a better life for ourselves and our families.
We spoke to union members living and working in “right-to-work” states, and what they told us about their reality is captured in an article on page 6 of this Communicator. We also spoke to many PEF members like you who told us why they value their union membership and will support PEF, no matter what the outcome of the Janus case might be. (See story, page 4.)
When you have a moment, take a look at the PEF website for a Janus Toolkit, filled with resources to help you understand what is at stake, and what we can do to remain strong. With so much at stake, we cannot let the anti-union forces weaken PEF!
We began a member engagement campaign when I took office in 2015 and, since that time, we’ve: held hundreds of worksite meetings; had one-on-one conversations with you; had, not one, but two overwhelmingly successful contract ratification votes; and this past fall, we proved just how powerful we can be with our successful campaign to defeat the proposed state constitutional convention.
We can’t let Janus make us forget why we formed unions in the first place – to ensure good jobs with a decent wage, safe workplaces, good and affordable health care, the ability to retire with dignity and the strength to make our communities and our state a better place for all. #WeAreStrongerTogether