Supreme Court Case Aims to Hurt Workers

Dear Local 2010 Teamster:

Yesterday, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in Janus v. AFSCME, the case brought by anti-Union lawyers funded by billionaires like the Koch brothers, aimed at taking away fair share rights for public service workers and our Unions.  In case there was any doubt that the goal of the case is to weaken Unions in order to reduce the wages and benefits of public service workers, the words of the judges themselves laid it bare.

During the argument, Justice Kennedy, one of the conservative judges who voted against public workers in the previous Fredrichs case, slammed public service Unions for “advocating for a greater size workforce, against privatization, against merit promotion . . .  for teacher tenure, for higher wages, for massive government, for increasing bonded indebtedness, for increasing taxes…”  That’s right, even though the hard work of public service workers like the members of Teamsters Local 2010 makes our country work, and even though everyone knows that public workers are underpaid compared to our sisters and brothers in the private sector, they want to vilify us and weaken us so that they can lower working people’s wages and benefits even further.

We’ve already seen it happen in one state after another, like in Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker took away collective bargaining rights for public workers.  Union membership dropped, and within five years pay and benefits of public workers is down 8-10 percent in Wisconsin.  They followed a similar script in Iowa, and Florida, and Michigan, attacking workers’ rights and lowering wages and benefits.

Now they want to take that script nationwide. The anti-Union lawyers in the Janus case want to take away fair share rights, which would force Union members to subsidize the costs of representation of those who choose not to pay dues. Since the Union is simply working people standing together for fair treatment at work, the obvious purpose is to weaken and divide us so that they can lower working people’s pay and the rich can get richer. It’s about greed, pure and simple.

They also made it clear they want to weaken Unions politically. Workers standing together in our Unions have the political power we need to win legal rights for working people, like overtime laws, minimum wage, family and medical leave, workplace safety, workers compensation, anti-discrimination law, and much more. These billionaires and corporations want to roll back these rights, and weakening Unions through the Janus case is central to their strategy.

Justice Kennedy made that pretty clear yesterday, too. He asked the lawyer for the Unions whether, if they lose the case, Unions will have less political influence?  The lawyer responded that he believed Unions would have less political influence.

“Isn’t that the end of this case?” Justice Kennedy responded.

Yes, that is the heart of the matter. The billionaires behind the Janus case want to take away working people’s freedom to stand together in our Union for better wages and working conditions.  They want to take away our political power to win legislative rights for working people. The corporations and the wealthy already outspend working people by 15-1 in in politics, just to enrich themselves further.  But they’re not satisfied with that.  They want to have all the power, and they don’t want working people to have any voice in politics. If they succeed, none of working people’s hard-won rights are safe.

The good news is that, whatever the outcome in the Janus case, there is no power on earth – not the billionaires and corporations, not the US Supreme Court – that can stop working people from standing together in our Union if we choose to do so. The hardworking members of Teamsters Local 2010 make UC and CSU work every day. We know from experience that when we stand together as Teamsters and take action for our rights, we harness that power and win fair wages and benefits. If we do not stand together, we will be weak, and the employers will take away our hard-won raises and rights, just like they did to public workers in Wisconsin.

Teamsters Local 2010 has been hard at work building our strength of membership.  We’ve taken our membership from 29% five years ago to over 80% today, on our way to our goal of 90%.  We’ve organized 2,300 new members in the skilled trades, magnifying our strength exponentially.  Over 9,000 members have signed the Member Power form, committing to stand together as Teamsters.  We’ve conducted powerful contract campaigns and taken action together by the thousands, winning significant guaranteed raises and many other victories in the face of tough employer opposition.

The choice is ours, and our future is in our hands. Let’s continue to stand together as Teamsters, by making sure everyone in our workplace has completed the Teamster Member Power form.  Let’s get involved in our Union, attend a chapter meeting, a steward training, or the Membership Conference. When we stand together as Teamsters, we win together!

In Unity,

Jason Rabinowitz
Teamsters Local 2010

In Solidarity,

Jason Rabinowitz
Teamsters Local 2010