Unions Kick Off Campaign Against Janus Court Case
AFT, NEA, SEIU and AFSCME have united to fight back against Janus, a National Day of Action planned for February 24th
Janus v. AFSCME is set to be heard by the Supreme Court in 19 days and public employee unions are preparing for the case. Today those unions held a press conference in Washington D.C. to discuss the case and to let the public know what they are doing to lessen the effects of the outcome.
The press conference featured leaders and members from unions like the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Educators Association (NEA), Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Workers (AFSCME), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). It began with the announcement that workers from across the country will be taking part in “A Working People’s Day of Action” on February 24th, the Saturday before the Janus case is heard. Rallies will be held in Los Angeles, San Diego, Washington D.C., Miami, St. Paul, New York, Columbus, Philadelphia and Memphis with more rallies forming every day. You can find a rally near you by clicking here. AFSCME is promising that thousands will be taking to the streets to protest the Janus case.
Throughout the press conference, the elected union leaders pointed out that this case is not about unions restricting someone’s freedom of speech but rather destroying unions. “When we had a fight against privatizing public schools, it was a strong NEA that came in and fought back, we took on class size and the next useless test someone was making money on,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia. “I know who is trying to weaken our unions and I know why. The billionaires are trying to defang and defeat us.”
Other speakers spoke about the importance of having a union. Eskelsen Garcia said that thanks to her teacher's union, a young Latina who is the daughter of an immigrant was given a pathway to the middle class. Bonnie Bentum, an HS teacher and Executive Board member for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) said that thanks to the hard work of her union, they were able to defeat the meddling of the Koch brothers and other billionaires who wanted to privatize the school system. “Our contract makes schools a safer and fairer place for students and educators,” Bentum said. “The attacks on workers are attacks on entire communities.” Kember Kane, a Kindergarten teacher in Maryland and NEA member also pointed out that students have more educational opportunities in states with strong teachers unions.
While Janus is striking fear in the hearts of many union leaders and members, the unions at the press conference are working hard to keep their members in the union. Randi Weingarten, President of the AFT, told the audience that they are working every day on talking with the membership. She said that they are knocking on doors, holding one-on-one conversations and are working to engage members, especially young ones, in the union. UCOMM has previously reported that unions have seen gains in organizing young members in 2017.
In the coming weeks, public employee unions will be going all out to defend themselves from the billionaire's attack on labor and will be working hard to organize their members to stick with the union if Janus is not decided in their favor.