Janus and the Future

The Supreme Court dealt a major blow to public sector unions today in the case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees by forcing them to service members who do not have to pay their fair share of fees for the services they receive.

Hi,

My thoughts below on today’s Supreme Court ruling:
The Supreme Court dealt a major blow to public sector unions today in the case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees by forcing them to service members who do not have to pay their fair share of fees for the services they receive.

The decision has been expected for two years. In 2016, when a similar decision was expected, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died and it seemed President Obama had an opportunity to shift the court to the left. However, his Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, who had a good labor record, was not even given a hearing by the Republican-controlled Senate.

While some will say eliminating the cost of public sector workers is necessary to not cut other programs nor make taxes excessively high, the tax structure should not be designed to overly burden the working and middle class while the upper class can afford new taxes.

Janus is the latest in a long series of defeats for the labor movement.

Public employee unions have been on the defensive for a long time.  Private sector unions have already been largely decimated with the except of Building Trades unions in the construction industry.

Labor unions were under attack under Obama on the state level most notably in Wisconsin under Scott Walker but also in several states which became Right to Work became law under which it is not necessary to join a union and thereby becoming a free rider.

On the federal level, conservative opposition blocked a number of labor reforms in Congress. Obama was also the only Democratic President to not have raised the minimum wage. Even George W. Bush raised the minimum wage once it was passed by a Democratic Congress.

In addition, some of the few reforms Obama was able to enact via regulation are being undone by Trump or struck down by reactionary judges interpreting the law for their own ends.

And while unemployment is down, a third of the country is working two jobs to survive due to the uneven economic recovery.

This is what happens when you have a reactionary billionaire class subverting democracy and a crook desecrating the White House.

Labor unions at their height raised the American standard of living to the highest in the world, served as a pillar of the Democratic Party, and funded several progressive causes, including the Civil Rights movement. With their decline, wages are stagnant and we have a generation that will deal with the negative effects of fewer economic opportunities for decades to come.

What is to be done?

It is important to vote of course and call your elected officials to urge them to support you. Donating money allows one more access to politicians and thereby giving advocates the best place to make their case. Advocacy is most effective when sympathetic politicians are already in office and public opinion is on your side.

But quite often the public is divided on an issue and politicians think that being moderate will sway sufficient voters when they are up for re-election.

What has been consistently effective is mass protest, especially when it is disruptive. An example in recent memory would be the airport protest against Trump’s travel ban where massive crowds and cab drivers refused to drive passengers to the airport led to a judge ruling against the ban.

Or think of Rosa Parks defying Jim Crow laws. Her effort sparked the Montgomery bus boycott and its victory which in turn sparked the battles and victories won by the Civil Rights movement which often used civil disobedience to ignite passion in the hearts of people which ultimately helped push the legislation through.

Civil disobedience is where you turn when the government no longer represents you and when you cannot match the money or the insider influence of the other side. And that is where unions and their allies must turn now in the fight for economic justice.

It was through the sit-down strikes led by Auto Workers in Flint which sparked strikes through the country and gave the union the position to make a deal that ultimately raised the living standard for millions in the United States.

It is to civil disobedience that union and their allies need to turn. Mass, disruptive has proven exceedingly effective in red states like West Virginia and Oklahoma where one would not expect unions to win.

In the majority opinion, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr. wrote that “agency fees cannot be upheld on the ground that they promote an interest in ‘labor peace.’” “Labor peace” is the idea that unions keep workers operating in a docile fashion and avoid unnecessary strikes that disrupt business. We have had “labor peace” for far too long at the expense of everyone who needs to earn a paycheck for far too long.

 

Thank you for reading.

In solidarity,

 

Dan

 

Daniel L. Ulloa

President

American Workforce Association

(908) 421-1422

Americanworkforce1@gmail.com

Americanworkforce.net

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Progress and Strike

Hello All!

I hope everyone is managing the best they can with this crazy weather!

We are making progress one step at a time! We have been connecting with a variety of progressive organizations such as Our Revolution, as well as meeting with lawyers who can provide free consultations to individuals who have encountered labor problems at work.

Our next meeting is Thursday, April 19th at 7 pm at 7 Silvester Ct., East Brunswick, NJ 08816. We plan to discuss narrowing our focus from the broad idea of “struggling workers and 1099 independent contractors” to a more specific sector where we can make inroads and, consequently, more progress.

In addition, we plan to hold a strategic planning session and a SWOT analysis where we will formalize our mission and assess the assets and liabilities of our organization. All are welcome and encouraged to attend (and bring friends)!

Please RSVP here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/107921590052231/

If you can’t make it in-person, use the link below to conference in:

https://zoom.us/j/162124938

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IN OTHER NEWS: Following the teachers strike in West Virginia, a strike has begun in Oklahoma where teachers and their allies have occupied the state capitol building. They have refused to back down until their demands are fully met.

Oklahoma has severely cut its public education budget for years while lowering its tax on oil companies. This has resulted not only in low salaries but in crumbling educational conditions such as lack of textbooks, seats, pencils, paper, and scissors. The cuts have been so deep, in fact, that many schools now only operate four days per week. The low salaries for teachers there have forced many to leave the state. Teachers in Oklahoma are the worst paid in the country.

Currently, in Kentucky, teachers in eight school districts have gone on strike as well to protest a severe reduction in their pension. Teachers in Arizona are threatening to strike as well. These strikes are all being organized with broad grassroots support among union members.

While these places might all seem to be dark red states, they had some Democratic representation during the Obama Administration. Moreover, simply because a state is politically conservative in some parts doesn’t mean labor unions and their allies, including AWA, should have no interest in the economic and labor issues there.

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee. King was in Memphis to support a strike by sanitation workers when he was assassinated. King believed that civil rights were entwined with economic justice and had sought to launch a “Poor People’s Campaign” to address economic issues. However, the effort failed after his death. The idea is being revived by the Rev. Dr. Barber, President of the North Carolina NAACP. Stay tuned…

We seem to be at the breaking point where workers will no longer accept death by cuts. When push comes to shove, we must fight back against hypercapitalism which is destroying the middle class.

ABOUT US: The American Workforce Association (AWA) is a community organization with ties to labor unions founded to address economic inequality that has resulted in lower salaries and fewer benefits for the workforce. We welcome input from everyone to grow our leadership team.

In solidarity,

Daniel L. Ulloa
President
American Workforce Association

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Reclaim Our Liberty

This past weekend, AWA went to a a labor rally in New York City held by the AFL-CIO’s New York City Central Labor Council. This rally comes ahead of the oral arguments going before the Supreme Court in the case Janus v. AFSCME Council 31.

Greetings!

This past weekend, AWA went to a a labor rally in New York City held by the AFL-CIO’s New York City Central Labor Council. This rally comes ahead of the oral arguments going before the Supreme Court in the case Janus v. AFSCME Council 31.

The issue is whether public employees in a unionized workplace are required to pay the fees that go toward bargaining on their behalf, even if they are not union members. These dues help provide the resources necessary to benefit union members, separate from political action. These non-union employees violate the collective freedom of speech of those who choose to join a union. This has been the Supreme Court’s position since 1977.

At the rally we heard from a number of labor leaders covering workers in local and state government, telecommunications, construction, painters, teachers, and college professors and staff in AFSCME, CWA, SEIU, RWDSU, the AFT, the IUPAT Painters, Jobs with Justice, and many others. They all spoke about the need to reclaim our liberty to associate freely from those seeking to infringe on it.

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In addition, we heard from Troy Walcott, a leader of the IBEW Local 3, whose members have been on strike for 11 months against the cable provider Spectrum. The giant corporation is seeking to cut the health benefits of its employees, despite generating billions of dollars in profit and granting a raise to their CEO recently. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also spoke as to how unions not only benefit their members but the general public as well.

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When union membership was at its highest, companies gave their employees generous salaries and benefits to offset the threat of their respective corporations becoming unionized. Thus everyone benefited.

The opposition to labor unions is funded by the same special interest groups that do not believe in paying a living wage, providing health benefits, or enforcing laws to combat racism and sexism.  They believe that corporate profit is important above all else, at the expense of the well-being of workers, product quality, and protecting the environment. There is little in place to check their belief and their actions towards this end.


IN OTHERS NEWS:

NEW- BRUNSWICK- United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) organized a protest on the Rutgers University campus demanding $15 an hour for student jobs on campus. Led by Mariah Wood, students and their allies including 15 NOW, New Labor, NJ Working Families, the NAACP, the NJ Work Environment Council, and others, marched in the streets of New Brunswick demanding this wage increase.

The situation is dire as a growing number of students on campus cannot afford food. Many are resorting to food pantries to get by, but the food pantries in New Brunswick are strained to keep up with the capacity. It is public knowledge that Rutgers has $700 million in reserves that could easily go toward raising students’ wages.

WASHINGTON- A union made up of political campaign staffers named the Campaign Workers Guild (CWG) had its first public call last night. They are planning to organize campaign staffers who often work under intense conditions to elect officials who will make the world a better place. The CWG had its first public victory recently when the staff of Randy Bryce, the labor leader running for Congress against Paul Ryan, was formally recognized as a union. This is a great step forward in providing better working conditions.

The CWG, similar to AWA, is seeking new models to assist 1099 contract workers who are not eligible under existing labor law to be recognized into a formal union. This is just one of the major reasons that labor law needs to be fundamentally transformed in the United States. However, this is not going happen under the existing conditions. We need to be at the forefront of organizing the communities that will take the lead in this fight.

To do so we need your help! Please get in touch with us if you’re interested in becoming a part of AWA or supporting our efforts. We seek to empower individuals who can improve their skills while helping us grow.

Take care,


Dan

Daniel L. Ulloa
President
American Workforce Association
22 Carpenter Terrace N.
2 R
Belleville, NJ 07019
American.workforce1@gmail.com
(908) 421-1422
@American_Work1
Americanworkforce.net

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February Meeting

We had a productive meeting this past Sunday discussing the progress we have made. New members took part in an engaging discussion and some called in via video conference.

Hello everyone:

We had a productive meeting this past Sunday discussing the progress we have made. New members took part in an engaging discussion and some called in via video conference.

While moving ahead to formally establish ourselves will take time, we planned ways to benefit workers and roll out formal membership and benefits. We also discussed the advances we have made including updating our website and the growth of our listserv.

In addition, Sam Rigotti, who has joined our Board of Trustees, laid out a comprehensive fundraising plan for AWA to begin securing funding.

It was also announced that Roberto Sayers has agreed to join our Board of Trustees. Roberto is the Executive Secretary of CWA 1033 and was the Democratic candidate for council in South Plainfield last year.

I’m also happy to introduce Sayda Tuanama as our new Field Director. Sayda is a Peruvian American who has 22 years of experience with labor union SEIU 1199 as a Senior Lead Organizer. She has worked primarily in New York and New Jersey to mobilize workers and advocate for economic justice. She studied Civil Rights at the University of Inca Garcilaso de la Vega in Peru.

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This Saturday, February 24th, the AFL-CIO is holding a rally in New York City to support workers’ rights and unions as a whole. Increasing union membership is a proven way to raise economic standards.

AWA plans to go to the New York City rally from 11am to 1 pm in Foley Square, at 111 Worth St., New York, NY 10013. We hope you will join us, we’d love to have a great AWA showing there! We want to meet at the front door of Newark Penn Station at 10:15 am.

Please let us know if you can attend.

IN OTHERS NEWS:

A North Carolina judge has ordered Uber to name the drivers eligible to join a multi-state class action lawsuit alleging the company falsely classified employees as independent contractors. This is a great step forward for those fighting for economic justice.

Take care,

 

Dan

Daniel L. Ulloa
President
American Workforce Association
22 Carpenter Terrace N.
2 R
Belleville, NJ 07019
American.workforce1@gmail.com
(908) 421-1422
@American_Work1

Please follow and like us:

The NLC Labor Summit and the Crumbling of New Jersey

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Congressman Donald Norcross (D-NJ) addressed the NLC Labor Summit Saturday.

By Eddie Rivera

The New Leaders Council’s Labor Summit in Edison on Saturday was a reminder of how New Jersey needs to be a beacon of hope for the labor movement and how far it has fallen. The last eight years with Chris Christie as Governor have derailed the Garden State. New Jersey has fallen behind its neighboring states in every economic measure since the Great Recession. Its credit rating has been downgraded several times. The NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development has seen its budget nearly slashed to death and belittled in integrity. The bill to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour was vetoed last summer and the legislature did not override his veto. State residents are unable to make ends meet. It’s nearly impossible to survive with a low minimum wage and high tuition costs. Imagine raising kids while working three jobs and earning an education. This is a great injustice in a state as prosperous as ours.

In addition, Trump’s presidency has only made it worse. His appointment to the Supreme Court is likely to vote in favor of weakening labor unions while a similar bill is pending in Congress. The regulatory gains made by the Obama Administration in the face opposition are being turned back. His administration is stacked with plutocrats seeking to benefits their cronies at the expense of the American people. As Congressman Donald Norcross (D-NJ) pointed out, there are a handful of individuals in the United States Congress who have been in a labor union.

This weekend’s summit was a reminder to on its laurels in the long war against Hypercapitalism when small gains are achieved. Now is the time to fight for the preservation of the Labor Movement in New Jersey and the country as a whole. We as a state cannot continue to move backward. Now is the opportunity to turn the page and move forward back to the progressive values we in the Garden State hold dear. With so much diversity, New Jersey needs to demonstrate progressivism in all areas of public policy. Each of the panelists has expressed their views on labor with much thought and deliberation.

Without labor, New Jersey cannot function. We need reform to continue robust activity within the transportation, manufacturing, health, education, and customer service sectors. Everyone should be entitled to pension and benefits in their respective fields. I urge everyone to continue the fight for a better New Jersey. Eight years of falling behind the rest of the nation has gone long enough. Let us all come together and make all our dreams come true once again.

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Chicago Teachers Union and Allies Set to Strike Tomorrow

The Chicago Teachers Union and allies plan to strike tomorrow to protest economic and civil rights issues.

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and their allies plan to strike tomorrow, April 1, for one day to protest economic and civil rights issues plaguing Chicago. The CTU has been operating without a contracts for nearly a year as negotiations have dragged on with no end in sight.

Allies such as Fight for $15 which seeks to raise the minimum wage will be joining the teachers in protesting at various sites across the city. American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten plans to attend a “teach-in” at Northeastern Illinois University to highlight funding issues in higher education. Other groups will highlight civil rights issues.

CTU is a local of the American Federation of Teachers.

The strike has been declared illegal by Chicago Public Schools (CPS). But CTU members feel that since that have not been receiving their legally mandated raises, their contract is invalid.

No actions have been taken thus far to prevent the strike.

Pushed to the brink

Due to budgetary constraints, CPS has been forced to lay off thousands of teachers and make significant budgetary cuts over the last few years. Some schools operate with no regular nurse to treat ill students, programs for special needs children have been closed, and many after school programs for children have been shut down as well.

This is only the latest in a series of attacks on public sector unions across the nation. The catch here is that the union’s opponent is not a Republican in the city of Chicago, but rather Mayor Rahm Emmanuel who served as a senior aide in the Clinton Administration.

Emmanuel has been an opponent of public sector unions since first taking office in 2011. He was previously close to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R) who attempted to push anti-labor laws through the legislature. Rauner made millions in the private equity market before entering politics.

While under attack from Emmanuel, CTU elected new leaders who have reinvigorated the union at time when many union locals suffer from similar issues.

“A lot of unions have stopped using strikes as weapons. But striking is the most powerful weapon we have. I think our strike in 2012 started to re-energize labor; I hope that continues,” said Sarah Chambers, a member of CTU’s executive board. “We have to actually energize every single union, every single workplace, so our members, the rank and file, are the ones leading these actions.

The CTU has successfully built public support in its fight against Emmanuel by embracing civil rights issues, including the most recent controversy over the shooting of Laquan McDonald 17 times by a police officer. Since the issue over McDonald’s death erupted, Emmanuel’s popularity rating has plummeted.

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