Dear Followers, I am sorry I haven't posted in so long. I have been busy with Union work and midterm grades. The Union work has kept me occupied with very late meetings and phone conferences, but I am glad because after some intense interviews, we are hiring an attorney to negotiate our contract. I have also been busy working on reports, the chapter union newsletter, and an article which I am posting below.
It deals with the Janus vs. AFSCME case, which will be dangerous for public sector unions. I am publishing it to the People's Tribune, if they will take it. I am also posting in on the union blog: hwclocal1600.wordpress.com/ tomorrow, after I get some good feedback.
I finally manged to write more of The Harvest, and I am every happy with how the work is blossoming. (However, as ever, the WiFi is testing my patience and not uploading the MS Word document. Stupid tech.) I really like the character 147-Paul, who is someone I hadn't quite fleshed out, but is coming to life. No pun intended because he is an android. I hope you enjoy the next installment.
Love your characters. Love your Unions! #Resist
Billionaires Taking the Right of Unions in Illinois: What Is Really at Stake in the Mark Janus vs. AFSCME Case?
By: Dr. Jesú Estrada
“What is Disgusting? Union Busting!” That is the slogan I heard so many years ago during the strike of 2004 in the City Colleges of Chicago. At the time, we were up against a corrupt mayor and a growing anti-Union sentiment. With little public support, our three-week strike led to few labor victories for City College employees; however, the right to collective bargaining is crucial if we, teachers, firefighters, police officers, are to survive. Unfortunately, that anti-Unionism is a sentiment that has since devastated states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana, but now a greater threat comes from Illinois.
If the Supreme Courts rules in its favor, the Mark Janus vs AFSCME case promises to give public sector unions nation-wide a decisive blow. Framed as a right to free-speech and claiming that unions don’t represent or speak for him, Mark Janus wants the right for all workers to not pay fair share dues. In Illinois and across the country, that would devastate public sector unions.
Bankrolled by corporations and billionaires like Governor Rauner, the bill is being sponsored by the National Right to Work Foundation and the Liberty Justice Center. These entities fight for corporate interests, not the working class, not for your interests. Ironically, Janus argues that AFSCME has backed politicians that have ruined the state’s budget, when the root cause is Gov. Rauner who refuses to release funds.
Currently, members do have a right to not join the Union, but the Union still bargains on their behalf, and dues are used to fund negotiations, as will be the case for our Contract Campaign. In fact, because of those healthy dues, we are hiring an attorney to negotiate our Contract, Margaret Angalucci. The Security Guards, likewise, will have Robert Bloch representing them. Without dues, these hires would not be possible.
These members who refuse to join the Union and are currently Fair Share are also represented by the Union. They benefit from all the rights that workers have are guaranteed benefits and protection under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, but unions do far more than negotiate contracts. They advocate for fair working conditions and in our case, academic freedom. Unions fight for healthcare benefits that are so necessary in an increasingly difficult economy. Our Union has historically awarded scholarships to students, both documented and undocumented. Again, we can do so in great part because of our union dues.
The Janus case is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court, and labor analysts think it will be decided by the summer 2018. Make no mistake, in the current political regime, we will not win this case. However, we can get organized. We can recommit to the Union with the new member forms the American Federations legal team has provided for us. Your Union officers and labor organizers, in the weeks ahead, will be working very hard to re-card all of our members. We are also listening to your criticism and concerns, so that we can improve the work the Union does for you.
Recently at an event, Karen Lewis President of the Chicago Teachers Union, spoke about the threat this case posed for public sector unions. She agreed that attacks on Fair Share dues would devastate unions. However, she also said something quite profound that may offer a light at the end of the tunnel. She said when labor organized historically, it made a big mistake in not lifting everyone else with it. Perhaps, it’s time that we considered how we fight not just for our rights and benefits, but for the rights and benefits of others in the community. Perhaps, after the Janus case, unions will have to fight harder for members and turn to more militant actions with full member support to meet our demands. I hope we can get there without having our unions decimated.
I have worked in right to work states like Arizona, and the conditions were dismal. Health benefits were a privilege, and there was little to no recourse if there was a dispute with management. I was at the mercy of unfair bosses. Do you want to be at the mercy of your supervisor or management? Do you want a Union that is only functioning at 80% capacity? What kind of Union do you want to work for you?
We all have an important role to play in the days ahead, and whether you believe in unions or are annoyed by dues, one thing is for sure, we are all better off with a union that is stably funded.
Dr. Jesú Estrada,