(Submitted by the American Federation of Government Employees and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees)
As we meet, our sisters and brothers within the public sector await the Supreme Court’s decision in a case that could undermine labor’s ability to organize these workers.
The Court heard Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 last month. At stake is whether unions will be able to collect agency fees to cover administrative and legal costs incurred by a local or district from those covered by a collective bargaining but choosing not to join.
Ever since passage of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935 (as well as President Kennedy’s signing of Executive Order 10988 for federal workers in 1962), anti-union forces have attempted to cripple workers coming together to seek better pay and decent benefits from their employers. Right-to-Work (for Less) laws now in place in 27 states allow freeloaders to obtain union-negotiated wages, union-negotiated benefits and union-negotiated on-the-job protections without paying a cent toward these costs.
As we know in the Labor Movement, agency fees are designed to cover the cost of such necessary work, but do not include money used for political action. The Janus instigators are trying to claim any and all negotiations that benefits public sector employees by nature is political.
Public sector employees are our family, friends and neighbors. From the municipal and county, to the state and federal levels, these are the men and women who make government work. They are the courthouse clerks, the voting registrars, the classroom teachers, the game wardens, the prison guards, the Social Security processors, the park rangers… the list goes on-and-on. Whether we realize it or not, they affect our lives each-and-every day.
This battle for public sector workers is nothing new. Fifty years ago, brave men who had had enough left their garbage trucks in Memphis to declare “I AM A Man” and fight to have union representation. Such efforts continue today.
The MTD, its affiliates and its Port Maritime Councils stand with our fellow public sector brothers and sisters in their fight to have union representation, to have decent wages, to have proper benefits and to have a safe workplace. As the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. declared during that Memphis strike a half-century ago, “All work has dignity.”
Approved 2018 MTD Executive Board Meeting