On Monday Feb. 26, as the United States Supreme Court began to hear arguments in Janus v. AFSCME, union members all across the country hit the streets to demonstrate the importance and value of a strong and united Labor Movement.
The anti-union interests behind Janus have pushed this case to the nation’s highest court in an effort to weaken and divide workers standing together in unions, but as the old labor chant goes, “When working people are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!”
Dozens of SEIU locals hosted Janus rallies in cities and towns across the nation, and IBEW 1245 organizing stewards stood in solidarity with their fellow proud dues-paying union members at two such actions in Sacramento and Fresno.
Seven 1245 members volunteered to attend the Sacramento action, hosted by SEIU Local 1000, where they were joined by 1245 Organizer Rene Cruz Martinez. The event took place at Sacramento Loaves and Fishes, and while the majority of the attendees donned SEIU purple, the IBEW Local 1245 contingent in navy blue caught attention of many notable leaders, including SEIU Vice President Margarita Maldonado, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and California Assemblymember Anna Caballero, all of whom took the time to thank 1245 for our work.
Despite the ominous weather, union members continued to show up throughout the day, and the event was covered by the Sacramento area Telemundo and Fox tv stations.
“This was such a humbling event, when you are surrounded by so much union solidarity you can’t help but be inspired,” said new Organizing Steward Evelyn Okoegwale. “This is the first time I have attended a rally, but it won’t be the last.”
“I strongly believe in People Power, and that’s what we showed at this rally,” said Organizing Steward Nilda Garcia. “We stood with the public sector brothers and sisters, we back them, and we will fight with them.”
Down in Fresno, eight Local 1245 members joined a similar action outside the county courthouse. The event was hosted by SEIU 521, and notable speakers included SEIU 1000’s Luisa Leuma and Riko Mendez, CEO of SEIU 521.
“When Luisa Leuma of SEIU 1000 spoke of our unions being under attack from the billionaires pushing their ‘Right to Work’ agenda, she said, ‘They are doing it for their own profits, at our expense,’ and I couldn’t agree more,” said Organizing Steward Melissa Echeverria. “We need to continue to stand together in solidarity and rise against these attacks on American workers. They will try to divide us, but we won’t let that happen!”
“This is not only an attack on union members. This is an attack on all workers,” said Organizing Steward Ashley Finley. “We all need to stand together and fight not only for our generation, but for future generations to come!”
Local 1245 member-leaders in the public sector have been preparing for the Janus decision for the past eight months by reaching out to their co-workers one-on-one, talking to them about the union difference and the importance of maintaining their union membership, regardless as to the outcome of Janus. Learn more here.
Rene Cruz Martinez contributed to this report.