By DEAN COATE
Local 21 President
Last month, in the Supreme Court decision Harris v Quinn, labor dodged a bullet, avoiding the loss of fair-share fees by the narrowest of margins – in the form of one elderly, black-robed justice. And the loss of fair-share fees would, at the least, have produced serious complications for public employee unions, which currently represent the most appreciable sign of life in the labor movement.
If, like most Americans, you espouse the principles of freedom, opportunity, and equality resting on the bedrock of a large, strong, and prosperous middle class, the time has come to put your money where your mouth is.
What do we mean by this? By way of explanation, consider the unfortunate Citizens United ruling a few years ago, which reiterated that “in politics, money is speech.” Currently, the only remaining significant and consistent financial support for preserving the middle class and defending the interests of working people has come from organized labor. By paying union dues and fair-share fees, Americans have helped preserve some measure of economic fairness and equity, and, by extension, our democracy.
However, Harris v Quinn helped reveal the tenuousness of our current situation. Labor is currently weakened to the point that the loss of the vote of one elderly justice could endanger the whole system. We need to speak out while we still can in support of the only remaining substantial defender of the middle class and the American way of life. And, in politics, if money is speech, then we need to put our money where our mouth is.
We can do this by contributing to our union PACs; by contributing to pro-union, pro-middle class candidates; and by supporting important pro-Democratic organizations (from the ACLU, to Move On, to the NAACP, to NARAL, etc., choose your flavor), which also help oppose the erosion of our democracy and the undermining of our rights.
The point is, we need to put our money where our mouth is, and we need to do it now, because, if we wait too much longer to support and strengthen pro-Democratic forces and organizations, there may not be anything left to support.
This article is part of the Summer edition of the Local 21 Quarterly Magazine. Click here to download the complete magazine.