Union YES! Janus NO!
February 26th, 2018
What Janus v. AFSCME means for AMU
Today was the first day in which the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding Janus v. AFSCME, a case which may very well deal a deathblow to Unions across our nation. At stake is whether everyone who benefits from the work of our Union should have to contribute their fair share in achieving and administering the work we do. I assume many of you will or have encountered this news item today, so I wanted to take a moment to speak on the issue, and how it will impact us directly.
As it stands, both members and non-members pay the same amount in Union fees to AMU/CTA/NEA. While members pay Union dues, non-members, as beneficiaries of the work of our Union (like small class sizes, access to a competitive salary schedule, continually salary increases, no-cost medical benefits, due process, permanent status on day 1, etc.), pay agency-fees or a fair-share fee; non-members pay their fair share for enjoying the benefits of our contract.
Janus v AFSCME, backed by corporate Union busting interests, seeks to challenge the constitutionality of this practice to a court which equates money with free speech. In essence, should the Supreme Court rule in favor of Janus, it has the potential to convert fair-share fee payers into Union free-loaders. It would allow anyone to benefit from the hard work of your site-reps, your bargaining team, your executive board, your representatives on the sustainability committee, the evaluation committee, the CRTF revision committee, the calendar committee, the counselor steering committee, the benefits committee, the hard working teachers and counselors who extend their work day to represent you and your interests before or after school, without having to contribute a dime to support the work AMU does.
We fully expect the current, conservative majority court, to rule in favor of Janus, and against Unions. In a nightmare scenario for many Unions, it could be that enough fee-payers and members alike choose to withdrawal their contributions to their Unions, forcing deep budget cuts, or leaving behind a paltry budget with which a Union could not conduct its most basic functions; ensuring your due process at work, and your best interests at the bargaining table.
As disheartening as this may be, for us as AMU members, we have come into 2018 with over 95% of our teachers and counselors proudly affirming they are AMU members, and not just a fee payer.
So to all of you who have taken the time to submit (or re-submit…for the 10th time) your Union membership form, and who believe in the work AMU does, and who appreciate the hustle of your local site rep, a profound and sincere THANK YOU! Time after time, when I speak to our teachers and counselors across our schools, and ask why is it important to be a part of AMU, I hear different versions of “it’s nice to know someone has my back.” Likewise, it is beautiful to know you got my back and that y’all got AMU’s back.
When the decision comes down, AMU will be forced to immediately cease collecting fees from agency fee payers. What’s more, we do not know if the Supreme Court will make us re-enroll all 600+ of our members, or just our agency fee payers, but not a single thing about our Union and our work within Green Dot has to change if we remain UNION STRONG.
Should the Supreme Court force every Union across the nation to re-enroll its 10 million members, I want to humbly ask that, when your site-rep or I ask you to re-commit to AMU, to the work we do for one another, and to the power of collective unity, you say UNION YES!
Unions are and always will be the social justice organizations that push progress forward and the organizations our political parties refuse to be. Janus will force us to remember our power does not reside in our coffers or in how many dollars we pour into politicians or political parties... but the men and women who make our schools work; the men and women who make a difference in the lives of students; working men and women who are already armed; Armed with the power to shut this country down if need be.
Angel G. Maldonado