Union leaders, activists, lawmakers vow to stand together, protect unionism
By DEBORAH A. MILES
Dozens of unionists stood in solidarity at the Empire State Plaza in Albany February 26 at a Stand Up For Labor rally, at the same time the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing the Janus v. AFSCME case.
Members from PEF, Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) and United Steelworkers Local 9265 chanted, “With unions united, we’ll never be defeated.”
Union leaders, state legislators and members with testimonials about the value of dues-paying union membership energized the crowd with passionate examples of why all union members should fight in solidarity to protect the many advantages gained through collective bargaining. And they cautioned the crowd to the challenges ahead, especially if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Janus, and the profound effect it would have on the nation.
Mario Cilento, state AFL-CIO president, said, “We know what we are fighting for and we fight from the heart, not like our opponents who fight with their wallets. We fight for the future, our families and children, and our brothers and sisters. It will be a bumpy road, but we will win because I will take heart over profit every day of the week.”
NYSUT President Andy Pallotta, said, “As the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments today, it is an attack on our voice, our values and our union. The wealthy elite and corporate interests bankrolling this case want to erode good wages, health benefits, job security and secure retirements won over decades by workers. I challenge you to pick it up a notch and tell your co-workers what you learned here today.”
PEF Region 8 Coordinator Michael Blue stood with his members who waved “Janus Is Not Us” and “PEF Strong, Union Strong” signs. Blue said the rally allows members to see the power of organized labor when everyone comes together.
“This attack on labor is not just local or statewide, but nationwide. We’ve seen what we can do when we mobilize and recruit activists. This is the time to gain momentum because the result of the Janus case will impact workers everywhere,” Blue said.
State Assembly Members Patricia Fahy, John T. McDonald II, Angelo Santabarbara and state Sen. Neil Breslin each vowed to be a friend to labor and be on the front lines with it to help New York’s unions keep the many opportunities and protections affiliated with union membership.