Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Mobilize for May-Day

In a capitalist society, only capital matters. Strong unions demand an active and engaged membership. This means participatory democracy, where members actually feel that they are the union, instead of a small clique making all the decisions. Unions are under attack because they aren’t viewed as winning. But there is still time to show that the bosses have misjudged union power if unions mobilise their memberships to defend themselves. A massive show of force is necessary. When the union acts powerfully, the members feel powerful; strong unions defend themselves. And they defend their community against corporate attacks. All unions should be the voice of the people in their ongoing fight against low wages, deteriorating working conditions and rising costs of living. Ultimately, unions must be transformed.

The San Francisco Labor Council, has called upon the AFL-CIO to organize “massive marches in Washington D.C. and on the west coast to defend public services and to call on the Supreme Court to rule against the plaintiffs in Friedrichs v. CTA…” In Oregon SEIU 49 and Portland Jobs With Justice passed a similar resolution, as did the Northwest Oregon Labor Council, which specially called for May 1st to be the day of national action.

Open Letter to the U.S. Labor Movement about the Friedrichs Case
To All Labor Union Officers and Rank and File Members:

Our movement faces imminent danger. The Supreme Court has signaled that it plans to rule against unions in the landmark case ‘Friedrichs vs California Teachers Association.’ 

The destruction that such a ruling would cause cannot be exaggerated. Public employee unions could be decimated across the nation, exposing all other unions to deepening attacks. Employers everywhere will be emboldened to take action against us, directly affecting our bargaining power and ability to organize. When Scott Walker attacked unions in Wisconsin, AFSCME’s membership dropped 64%. Similar numbers are possible across the country if we lose Friedrichs. 

In response, the San Francisco Labor Council recently passed a resolution calling for the AFL-CIO to organize “...massive marches in Washington D.C. and on the west coast to defend public services and to call on the Supreme Court to rule against the plaintiffs in Friedrichs v. CTA…”

We, the undersigned, urge all unions to collaborate to make this vision a reality: a nationwide day of action, with mass rallies in every state. On or about May 1st would give us time to fully mobilize before the decision will be announced. 

Massive rallies across the country can become a reality if we fully mobilize our members as well as the broader community. The war on unions is part of the same war against working people in general who are suffering under the insecurity of part-time, low-wage work and cuts to public education and social services combined with rising rents and other costs. Their fight is our fight and ours is theirs. If we fight for them, they will fight for us.

We can also mobilize all the positive sentiment that the public shares towards the public employees who are targeted by Friedrichs, especially teachers, firefighters, and other union members dedicated to public service. 

We encourage all members and officers to sign and forward this letter to others in your local community and/or regional/national affiliates of your union. If necessary, members are encouraged to use the resolution included below to pass in your unions, which is a modified version of the San Francisco Labor Council resolution. 

By uniting the labor movement on this issue and working with our community allies we have the power to affect the Supreme Court's decision.

The fate of the U.S. labor movement is in our hands. 

Draft Resolution to Defend Public Employee Unions and Public Services by Marching on the U.S. Supreme Court

Whereas: Public sector unions have been in the forefront of defending education and other vital public services from cutbacks and privatization; and

Whereas: Right-wing think tanks and state and federal politicians, bankrolled by corporations and billionaires who stand to benefit from workers' inability to defend themselves, are attacking public and private sector unions; and

Whereas: In the first half of 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case brought by a dissident teacher and right-wing legal foundations that seek to impose open shops on public unions, thereby encouraging freeloaders and severely weakening the dues base necessary to provide services; and

Whereas: The severity of the threat is underlined by the fact that Wisconsin AFSCME's membership declined by 64% after Governor Scott Walker stripped publicsector unions of their bargaining rights and a year later imposed “right to work” laws that stopped all unions, public and private, from requiring membership or fair share payments to sustain the union; and

Whereas: Union members organized to fight are the real power that can stop the assaults on working people’s livelihood;

Be it therefore resolved that [name of union] use political action funds to mobilize members and friends to oppose all manifestations of “right to work;” and

Be it further resolved that [name of union] urge the AFLCIO, NEA, and SEIU to work together to organize massive marches in Washington D.C. and in every state on or about May 1st, 2016, to defend public services and to call on the Supreme Court to rule against the plaintiffs in Friedrichs v. CTA; and

Be it finally resolved that [name of union] use its ties to other unions, labor councils, labor federations and to those organizations served by union members to build a united front to educate and apply pressure to counter the threat of right to work laws nationwide.

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