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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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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