Janus V AFSCME
This week, the Supreme Court ruled (JANUS v AFSCME) that government workers who choose not to join a union cannot be charged a fee for services that the union provides to its workers. This is a serious blow for organized labor and has lasting harmful effects for ALL workers - at minimum; decreasing income equality, equal rights in the workplace, and economic disparities across the country.
Do Any of These Sound Familiar?
Unions are a microcosm of democracy - everyone gets an equal and respected voice, with a majority vote determining the union's trajectory. For workers who are too often denied the right to speak and be heard, and the privileges that come with a community of people who have your back, union representation offers hope.
For more information, read:
What can you do?
First, if you do not understand the role unions play in preserving working people’s quality of life in a democratic framework, get informed, so that you can talk to other people about it. This short video may be a good place to start - a very simple explanation of why unions are important and what fair share fees do.
Ask union members why they decided to join and what the union means to them. Pay attention to the causes of striking workers and don't cross picket lines. Support candidates that have earned the support of unions, or that value equal rights for equal pay and economic equality. We need lawmakers and officers at every level who will fight for workers rights. Register people to vote, door knock, phone bank, find a candidate/campaign that needs support and help them, walk with candidates in parades. Take a friend or neighbor with you when you do this. We need to keep loud and visible and engaged.
THINGS TO KNOW:
Q: What is Collective Bargaining?
A: Collective Bargaining is negotiating as a group, not on an individual level. Essentially, the union argues that everyone who does the same job should receive the same wage and benefits, including the same raises (which a union representative negotiates on the workers' behalf). This limits the ability of employers to discriminate and divide workers. In fact, the only power that a union has is through strength in numbers.
Q: What are Fair Share Fees?
A: Fair Share Fees are a small percentage of wages (usually 4-7%) taken out of workers' paychecks when they are covered under a collective bargaining agreement, or contract, to cover the costs of wage/benefit negotiations, grievances, organizational logistics, and other general operating costs. In 1977, the US Supreme Court unanimously affirmed in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that fair share fees could be collected from public-sector workers. Janus v. AFSCME overruled that decision. Fair Share Fees are distinct from Member Dues, which are regular lump sums collected quarterly that provide additional funding to unions for things like political activism, social outreach, and educational initiatives.
Q: Historically, what have Unions given us?
A: A lot! A 40 hour work week, weekends, ended child labor, healthcare coverage from employers, pushed for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), workplace safety regulations and enforcement, minimum wage, and workers compensation, just to name a few.