When It Comes to Janus, There Is Rhetoric and There Is Reality

From the AFL-CIO

Sometime in the next few weeks, the Supreme Court will decide a case called Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, that threatens to undermine the freedom of working people to join together and negotiate for better wages and working conditions. Corporate CEOs and their allies know that working people have a much stronger voice when we speak together, so they are pulling out all the stops to silence our voices. 

But the reality about Janus is significantly different than the rhetoric of those behind it. Here are some key ways how:

Rhetoric: This is about stopping unions from funneling union members’ money to politicians the members disagree with.

Reality: Plaintiff Mark Janus has always enjoyed the legal protection that he’s seeking. Not one cent of his money can be used to support any candidate’s political campaign over his objection. Period.

Rhetoric: No one should have to join a union to get a job.

Reality: Working people are guaranteed the freedom to join together in union. However, unions are required to represent all employees in an organized workplace, whether they’re members or not.

Rhetoric: This is about workers’ freedom and workers’ choice.

Reality: This is about taking away freedoms at work in order to silence workers and further enrich corporate CEOs.

Rhetoric: A ruling in favor of Janus would be a death sentence for unions and mark the end of organized labor in the public sector.

Reality: No piece of legislation or judicial decision is going to thwart the aspirations of millions of working people standing together for a better life.

Rhetoric: This case is going to sabotage the unions’ ability to mobilize in 2018 and 2020.

Reality: Working people mobilize because the issue or candidate matters to us, not because of what the Supreme Court says. We mobilized and made a difference in so many races such as the elections of Rep. Conor Lamb (Pa.) and Gov. Phil Murphy (N.J.) because we had a stake in their outcome. We’ll continue making our voices heard this year and beyond.

Rhetoric: Workers fed up with their unions are the driving force behind this case.

Reality: Janus is just the most recent public face of a long-running assault on unions funded by a dark web of corporate money and propped up by the Koch brothers’ echo chamber.

Learn more about Janus at Freedom to Join.

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Reposted from the AFL-CIO

Posted In: From AFL-CIO, Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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A Friendly Reminder

A Friendly Reminder