I cannot stress enough the importance of this email and what its contents could mean to unions at this moment and into the future. On Monday Feb 26, 2018 the Supreme Court Justices will convene to discuss implementing A Right to Work Law across the nation. What does that mean for unions?
A Right to Work law guarantees that no person can be compelled, as a condition of employment, to join or not to join, nor to pay dues to a labor union. Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act affirms the right of states to enact Right to Work laws. I should also note that at this time the Supreme Court Justices will only be ruling on pubic sector municipal unions and not private sector unions at this time.
In short, this law would allow members not to pay union dues in a union position as well as any new incoming members if they so choose wish to exercise that right.. The union would still have to protect these employees bidding rights and just cause employment just as it would for all dues paying members. Its really shocking to say the least. Its my opinion as President of the SMEA that this could eliminate unions as we know them. Imagine if our membership decided that they no longer want to pay dues, it would bankrupt the unions and we would be unable to fund our legal causes and protect our members from unjust actions from the city.
As stunning as this may seem, there will be arguments made regarding the Right to Work beginning on Feb 26, 2018. In my discussions with many union leaders they believe that the Supreme Court will vote in favor of this by May of 2018. The vote could end up being a 5-4 slim margin in favor of the Right to Work. Its my belief as is many union leaders that union protection is something sacred that should never be taken for granted. As many of you know, the SMEA has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to prevent the administration from unjust treatment. We have an excellent record in winning at both arbitration’s as well as the division of labor and have secured favorable settlements all because we have union representation from excellent attorneys.We now live in very uncertain and unstable times. Unions are always demonized but when employers fire their employees in the private sector for no reason, what recourse do they have? They have none! We all realize that the reason why unions were created was to stop employers from enacting poor labor standards, unsafe working conditions, gender discrimination, age discrimination and we have seen our share of those issues and dealt with them head on.
You should also know that in 2013 the SMEA voted to ensure that dues remain as low as possible for those members who can least afford it.in 2013 the union went from a flat fee for all to a 1.1 percentage of members base salaries.
I believe as a union with very good leadership, we can overcome this attack on public sector labor unions.
In the meantime, The SMEA along with other unions in the city plan to hold a brief demonstration at City Hall at noon on Monday Feb 26, 2018 to protest this injustice. The protest has nothing to do with the Mayor and the administration, in fact its our hope that the Mayor and Board of Aldermen would support a resolution to support unions on the issue.
I would appreciate it if all members of the SMEA could come to city hall that day at noon and make a very strong show of solidarity and stand with us for 30 minutes as Its something that we must do.
Please put the date and time on your calendar.
I am also urging you to read the attached document for further explanation.
Take a moment out of your day for the union. If you don’t help us, it makes it very difficult for the leadership to call attention to our needs and injustices that we deal with. After all the SMEA is made up of 31 divisions and 260 members equaling the largest union in the city on the city side. It would be expected that this union show up and give 30 minutes of you time back to the union and help your own cause.
Attached is short description of the actions being planned nationwide on Monday, Feb. 26 to coincide with the first day of oral arguments for the Janus vs AFSCME Supreme Court case.
I have spoke to several of you already about doing something in Somerville. SEIU and the AFL-CIO will be able to provide everyone with stickers and placard signs. Probably best to ask every member to wear the sticker that day and invite all union members and our allies to join us for a very short 12:00 NOON standout and press event either at City Hall.
Please let me know of your interested in participating in the Day of Action and what time and where you think it would be best for us to gather on Feb. 26.
“In Unity there is Strength”