Contra Costa Bulletin Special Edition: June 2018

Special Edition: June 20, 2018

A decision in the public employee union-busting Janus vs. AFSCME Supreme Court case is imminent.  The case, which specifically targets public employees and our right to effectively form and maintain strong unions, comes on the heels of a decision that allows employers to prevent workers from filing class action lawsuits as a condition of employment.  Does this sound like a pro-worker court to you?
Ask yourself: why is it that the Koch brothers and other corporate special interests are so invested in this case?  What do they have to gain, and what is their goal?
Here is what we know:  In “Right to Work” (for less) states where union fair share fees are not permitted and public employee unions are weak, wages have fallen, working conditions have deteriorated, and, in states like Wisconsin, public employees have lost their right to collectively bargain altogether.  This is the situation we must avoid at all costs.  
They are targeting us because we are strong. They are targeting us because they know if they weaken us they can pursue their agenda of privatizing our public sector jobs, eroding our wages, and cutting our benefits, all so they can pay less in taxes and Wall Street can make billions of dollars replacing our secure pensions with 401Ks they can manage and charge fees for.  This is about protecting secure, middle class jobs in public service. 

For decades, unions have been under attack.  The damage has been real and lasting in the private sector.  At the same time, public sector unionism has thrived, bringing democracy and fairness to the workplace.  By allowing the opportunity to stand together and exercise a collective voice over matters involving wages, benefits, and working conditions, public professionals know that there is value and power in the union, and public sector union density has remained relatively constant.  Janus vs. AFSCME seeks to reverse that trend.
The good news is this: the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus vs. AFSCME cannot weaken us if we don’t let it. It cannot impact our union if members decide to stick together and have each other’s backs. Ever since we started educating Local 21 members about the Janus vs. AFSCME case, our union membership rate has grown! In Contra Costa County, Local 21 has gone from 84% union membership to 93% union membership since January 2018. We’ve also signed up 60% of current members on the new Union Membership Gold Card. Let’s send a strong statement that Contra Costa County managers, supervisors, and professionals are standing together and refuse to be weakened...Please Join your Colleagues and Sign the Local 21 Gold (Membership) Card Today!
Quick FAQ:
I am already a member.  Why should I sign a Gold Card?
Member leaders are asking everyone to sign a Gold Card, regardless of membership status.  We are organizing, and this is how we do it.  Signing a Gold Card confirms your membership status and symbolizes your re-commitment to your co-workers and your union.  It also makes sure we have accurate and complete contact information for you.  We are using this as an opportunity to connect with everyone in the unit and get feedback.  The Gold Card asks for your priorities on the back. Please check your top two priorities when you fill it out.    
Are dues going up?
NO. Dues have not gone up in decades and they are not going up now. Signing the Gold Card will not result in increased dues.
On the local level, why is it important that the Union stays strong?
We are fighting to improve wages and make healthcare more affordable for Contra Costa County employees. Good contracts are won by having a strong union, which involves having an informed, active, and organized membership. The County is very much aware of our membership rate. There is too much at stake in Contra Costa specifically, and while much progress has been made since the Union was organized just ten years ago, there remains more work to do.  
Why is it important that public sector unions stay strong, generally?
We must remain committed to fighting for our right to a voice on the job and a job with dignity, which includes better wages, good benefits, and a secure retirement.  Nothing is guaranteed.  The infamous former Mayor of San Jose, Chuck Reed, has stated that he wants to push pension cuts statewide through the ballot box, but will wait until after the Janus vs. AFSCME decision to qualify it for the ballot because he believes unions will be too weakened to effectively educate voters and fight back.
How can I help?
Fill out your Local 21 Gold Card today. Then please join our Volunteer Organizing Team (VOT) to talk with your co-workers about the value of the union and to ask them to sign a Gold Card too.

Sources: Economic Policy Institute; Vox Media
Copyright © 2018 IFPTE Local 21, All rights reserved.

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