Today, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear opening arguments in Janus vs. AFSCME, a highly publicized court case that seeks to eliminate unions’ ability to collect fair share fees in the public sector, ultimately amounting to so-called “Right to Work” style workplaces for civil servants in all 50 states.
While the powerful, moneyed interests behind plaintiff Mark Janus are trying to trick the public into believing that this case is about “freedom,” the truth is that Janus is backed by notorious anti-worker organizations that wish nothing more than to see unions become a thing of the past. They view public sector union workers as the easiest target – but rest assured, their long-term goal is to annihilate ALL unions, both public sector and private sector.
If you follow the news, you may have seen headlines calling this case “the biggest threat the organized labor,” claiming that unions are in “deep trouble” and some even going so far as to allege that Janus is “the death knell for unions” in the United States. The media is quick to assume that, in the likely event that the Supreme Court rules against the union in this case, the American Labor Movement is all but done for.
But what they fail to recognize is that organized labor is no stranger to adversity –in fact, most unions, including ours, were born from much harsher adversity, and have continued to persevere despite numerous attempts to weaken and divide us. In the early 20th century, union activists were abused, arrested, beaten and murdered in cold blood by anti-union forces. But did that put an end to unions? Not at all – in fact, quite the opposite. That hostile opposition only served to further embolden those activists, and they doubled down their efforts to bring a voice to the millions of workers who were otherwise voiceless.
While I’m not one to take any attack on Labor lightly, I wholeheartedly believe that our 21st century Labor Movement can not only survive, but truly thrive in the face of this court ruling. It won’t be easy, and it will take a lot of hard work and commitment. But the public sector members of our own Local have already been working diligently for months to prepare for this ruling, and in my mind, there’s no question that our union will remain strong, no matter the outcome of Janus.
As I think about this attack on our movement, I can’t help but be reminded of the ancient proverb:
They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.
By standing together, we can and will overcome this hurdle and any others that may come before us, and come out the other side more powerful, more unified, and more dedicated to the cause than ever before.
–Tom Dalzell, IBEW 1245 Business Manager