On 26 February, the Janus vs AFSCME Supreme Court case will be heard. It represents the biggest anti-union legal move in half a century. The case is supported by big monied conservatives including the Koch Brothers with the goal of diminishing the power of the labour movement under the guise of freedom of speech.
If the court rules in favour of the plaintiff, fair share fees paid by non-member workers to cover their representation will no longer be obligatory – yet Unions will still be legally-bound to represent them. This case warps the idea of freedom of speech by enabling one person’s complaint to undermine the interests of millions of workers across the country who benefit from collective bargaining. The Amicus Curiae brief prepared by our U.S. affiliates for the court shows how fair share fees are central to an efficient and effective public sector.
On 24 February — two days before the Supreme Court deliberates Janus vs. AFSCME — a massive mobilization aims to get thousands into the streets in a show of labour strength. Called the “Working People’s Day of Action,” the nationwide rallies will invoke the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. and the sanitation workers who walked off their jobs in Memphis 50 years ago.
This case should not be seen as an isolated, domestic event but rather as part of a global attempt to erode union power, seen in other countries in cases such as the recent UK Trade Union Act. We encourage all PSI affiliates to recognize the threat that this poses to our movement and to support our US comrades on their day of action, 24 February. The Council of Global Unions also called on all of its members to support US unions and stand united. We must all be concerned about the outcome of the US Supreme Court’s decision in this important case.
Please keep us updated on your actions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Begin your own social media campaign with tweets and facebook posts, #UnrigTheSystem #WeRise, #ItsAboutFreedom or send a letter to the US ambassador in your country and let them know just how important this decision is to you and to the members of your union. You might also want to organize a lunch time protest at the US Embassy or Consulate on 26 February. Bring signs that demonstrate your union’s support for public employee labour rights in the United States. Signs at the protest might include the following:
o Stop the Attack on Labor Rights in the US
o Workers deserve a strong voice
o Don’t turn back the clock on human rights
o Janus vs AFSCME is a big money attack on all workers
o Stop the corporate attack on US workers
o Worker rights should be honored and respected
o Trump helps the rich, attacks workers
o Labor rights are human rights
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To the US Ambassador:
As an affiliate of Public Services International, we have been closely watching developments in the case of Janus vs. AFSCME that will be heard in the US Supreme Court on Monday, February 26, 2018.
We are encouraged by the strength of the case prepared by AFSCME and other public sector unions in the United States. Supporting briefs have also been filed by a broad cross section of organizations and individuals from across the ideological divide.
The current law on fair share representation has been in place for more than 40 years. The effort to overturn this precedent is being influenced and directed by some of the wealthiest anti-worker elites in the country.
Overturning this decision is clearly an effort to defund, defang and destabilize the middle class in the United States in order to benefit those who control the greatest wealth in the country.
A strong middle class depends upon worker rights being honored and respected. Turning back the clock on labor rights in the US will have a serious impact on working people around the world.
Please take action by raising this issue with your colleagues in the US and across the diplomatic community. The issues raised in the Janus vs AFSCME case will have a serious impact on workers’ rights and well-being.