District Council 57

Harris Vs. Quinn Only Strengthens Our Resolve

The Harris vs. Quinn decision was only a partial blow to public sector unions. What it does is create a “Right to Work” environment for workers who provide home health care, child care and for medical interpreters.  It does not affect AFSCME Council 57 affiliates who have Agency Shop provisions in their collective bargaining unit agreements. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRWLDF) scored a partial victory with today’s decision. The NRWLDF is an extreme anti-worker group whose funders include billionaires like Charles Koch and the Walton family. This decision will undoubtedly embolden them in their campaign to destroy the public sector unions, including overturning the landmark Abood decision. The Abood decision found that unions could charge agency fees to those who do not join a union, but benefit from the privileges of representation.

Organizing workers is our only recourse to stop the relentless efforts to erode union strength. 50,000 Stronger is AFSCME’s campaign to sign up that many workers prior to our International Convention in July. So far we’ve reached 70% of that goal, including 25, 000 home care providers and child care providers that have chosen to join our union since January. Here in AFSCME Council 57 alone, we’ve signed up 464 new members during our Volunteer Member Organizer campaign. “The only way we will counteract the systematic efforts to dismantle unions is to educate workers we represent about the importance of joining the union,” said Council 57 President Cynthia McCabe. “Harris vs. Quinn is the first in what is likely to be a long line of lawsuits aiming to weaken labor.”

The Harris vs. Quinn decision also points to why political action is so critical to our union members. The President of the United States is responsible for judicial appointments and the justices who formed the majority opinion in this matter were appointed by political conservatives. The 2016 Presidential election will be critical for that very reason. On the heels of this decision, AFSCME will be examining how the other nine states where we represent home health care workers can be distinguished from Illinois and move accordingly. Read AFSCME International President Lee Saunders’ statement here.

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