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.
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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 public‐sector 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 AFL‐CIO, NEA, and SEIU to work together to organize massive marches in Washington D.C. and in every state on or aboutMay 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.