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.
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.
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.
Daniel L. Ulloa
American Workforce Association
22 Carpenter Terrace N.
Belleville, NJ 07019