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Stand up for your right to advocate for your community

11/18/2015

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to consider an historic case – Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association – that could potentially silence your voice at work and eliminate your right to band with your colleagues to advocate for kids and communities. Make no mistake: The stakes have never been higher.

That’s why the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) filed an amicus brief before the Supreme Court last week, making a powerful and compelling argument about how unions fight for much more than our members’ best interests. AFT President Randi Weingarten told the Court:

“Working people are struggling to get ahead, and this case will make it worse, especially for our children. When educators come together in a union, they are able to advocate not just for better pay and benefits but for a higher-quality public education for their students. Through their union, educators receive professional development to help them implement reform initiatives vital to helping all students succeed in this 21st-century economy. Through their union, educators participate on health and safety committees to raise concerns—like leaky roofs or asbestos—and devise plans to keep their students healthy. If the court overturns 40 years of precedent, it will be much harder for unions to do this vital work. When working people can speak up together, our children are better off.”

When workers come together in their unions, communities are better off too. Strong unions help men and women – both union and non-union – earn a good living and receive more equitable treatment on the job, no matter their gender, race, or religion. 

Lacy Barnes, an AFT member in California, explained it this way:

“When I began teaching at a California community college in 1992, it never even crossed my mind not to join a union, and it’s a decision I’ve never regretted. We’ve all seen the research showing that strong unions benefit the middle class. Being a union member has allowed me to speak in one voice with my fellow teachers for things that matter and benefit the community – better training, smaller classes, and wages and benefits that can sustain families.”

That’s why an unfair ruling in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association would be devastating. It would gut the existing collective bargaining laws in Illinois and 16 other states that give teachers, state employees, nurses, firefighters, and other workers the right to negotiate with employers over wages, benefits, and working conditions and to advocate for high-quality education and services.

So what is this lawsuit all about? Just follow the money and you’ll know. The suit is backed by the Center for Individual Rights, a right-wing group funded by the Koch Brothers, the billionaires behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union campaign that devastated education and public services. Unsurprisingly, our own billionaire Governor Bruce Rauner is a proponent of the move to eliminate unions and has even filed his own amicus brief with the Supreme Court in the Friedrichs case, a move Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has called unlawful.

Everyone who works hard should be able to make ends meet and have a say about their futures, but if Rauner, the Koch Brothers, and their allies are allowed to use their money to manipulate the rules to benefit themselves and wealthy special interests, they will destroy the middle class. Almost no one stands up for average Americans these days, and this case threatens to make it even harder for working people – like teachers, firefighters, and other public employees – to come together, speak up, and get ahead.

The U.S. Supreme Court should reject this attack. Here’s what you can do:

  • Talk to your coworkers about how unions benefit everyone and why we must all work to keep them strong.
  • Sign this petition.
  • Watch and share this video from West Wing star Bradley Whitford to learn more about Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.
  • Spread the word on social media. Share your personal story about the importance of having a collective voice through your union, or use this sample post: Find out who is behind the latest attack on working people and unions at the Supreme Court. #WorkTogether http://prospect.org/article/whos-behind-friedrichs

We cannot sit on the sidelines while our rights and our communities hang in the balance. Please act today.


Watch ift-aft.org for updates on the Friedrichs case and ways you can take action.


         
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