Unions: The last, best defense for workers

Posted Jun. 7, 2018 by

When the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 in late February, the nine justices essentially heard arguments FOR and AGAINST national Right to Work for public sector workers. The Janus case is one of the biggest corporate-funded attacks facing us as public employees today. While we won’t know the outcome or details of the decision until June, one thing we do know is that American workers aren’t taking attacks to their wages, benefits, pensions and more lying down. There’s a movement intensifying, one which no law nor court case can shutter! Workers are rising up like never before and unifying together with their union sisters and brothers to demand that this nation put workers before wealth once and for all.

And, if recent labor struggles across the nation, from Arizona to West Virginia, have shown us anything, it’s that there’s true power in the people coming together to make change.

Seven years ago, we fought off a major attack called Senate Bill 5 that tried to limit our collective bargaining rights. But we stood together, shoulder-to-shoulder and mounted a fierce counter-response. And today, we still have one of the strongest union contracts in the country. Check out our contract wins on pages 4-5 from this year’s contract negotiations, including the highest wage increase in ten years.

And just this year, thousands of workers marched in downtown Columbus, in Washington D.C. and state capitols across the country for the Working Peoples’ Day of Action! Union workers, with OCSEA activists right out front, showed how fed up they are with attacks that limit their voice on the job. They don't want politicians or big business money deciding whether they can join together in strong unions to speak up for themselves and their communities. Workers aren’t being fooled by these attacks. They know that when a union voice on the job is accessible, working families thrive.

As we face further union attacks under the Janus case, it’s not time to be fearful. Instead, it is time for us ALL to come together—like we did with SB 5 and the Day of Action—and stand unified like never before. As the Janus “decision day” nears in June, we ask you to be vigilant:

  • Talk to co-workers daily and remind them: unions are the best way to unrig our economy, sustain our families and make our communities stronger. When working people stick together and organize, we are all stronger.
  • Urge everyone you know to call on elected leaders and candidates to support policies that makes it easier, not harder, for working people to join unions. Tell them to take a verbal stance AGAINST Right to Work and FOR union rights. And tell them, if they don’t, they won’t get your vote.
  • Be a part of the rising movement. Be prepared, at any moment, to participate in actions and rallies to fight back attacks that divide and weaken us. Use social media as a tool to promote the value of your union and to speak out against attacks. Use the hashtags #Unions and #ImStickingWithTheUnion to have your message heard far and wide. Tell the world, “I’m sticking with my union, no matter what!” Learn more.

While we don’t know what a post-Janus world will look like, we do know one thing: the public work we do is important, and it needs to be protected. A union voice—YOUR union voice—is one of the last defenses we have to protect the important work we do. But it’s going to take all of us to make it happen.

I’m ready. Are you?