Responding to Attacks on Our Rights and Freedoms

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday issued its long-anticipated ruling in the Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 lawsuit — one that favors billionaires out to destroy America's labor movement. The 5-4 decision overturned a four decades-old precedent and has long been the goal of a shadowy network of deep-pocketed political operatives.

Here in Connecticut, union members gathered in Hartford to denounce this judicial attack on their freedom to negotiate a fair return on their work. A teacher, firefighter, paraeducator, security officer, administrative assistant and mental health worker stood on the steps of the state Supreme Court to deliver the message, "we're sticking with our union!"

The Hartford event, which took on the appearance of a labor rally, left no doubt about members' commitment to each other and their communities. Click here for reporting on the event.

Among those speaking was Taffy Womack, president of AFSCME Local 704 (State NP-3 Clerical Bargaining Unit). She put the decision in context by reminding reporters of the radical special interests who bankrolled the lawsuit in the first place.

“It’s obvious this court case has nothing to do with helping workers," Womack told reporters. "It’s about CEOs and billionaires spending their money and influence to rig the economy in their favor. The forces behind Janus want to destroy the freedom of workers to come together and improve their lives by joining a union. I refuse to let them win."

Womack’s comments refer to reactionary zealots like the Koch brothers, whose network funded this latest challenge to the Supreme Court's unanimous 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. They have openly vowed to "defund and defang" unions, and the Janus lawsuit was but one of their many deceptive tactics.

Click here for investigative reporting on the broader campaign to weaken America’s labor movement.

Click here to read about the wealthy donors who funded the Janus case.

"We've been warning for months about what to expect next from billionaire-funded anti-union groups," said Council 4 Executive Director Jody Barr. “Our members are ready to resist the scheme to divide working people and silence our voices."

"They understand the coming PR campaign is paid for by the same special interests opposing everything we stand for," added Barr, a member of AFSCME Local 2836 who previously worked at Eastern Connecticut State University.

Barr's comments refer to attempts discovered in late May by out-of-state special interests to get their hands on Connecticut public employees' personal information. Click here for the story.

The Janus ruling throws a national spotlight on unions and provides a moment of unprecedented opportunity for us to recommit to each other and organize new members. Support for the labor movement has risen to its highest level in years — and public employees in particular, are more determined than ever to stick together.

As the fall elections approach, members of Council 4-affiliated unions are gearing up to support champions who share their values and will stand up for working people. Grassroots political volunteerism in the weeks and months ahead will be critical to the process of defending legislative assaults on our bargaining rights and freedoms.

In the meantime, Council 4 is stepping up efforts to protect every member's freedom to negotiate for a better life through their union. Our AFSCME Strong program is built around getting members to recommit to their union and protect the gains we have made for all workers.

In state and municipal workplaces across Connecticut, Council 4 members are proudly displaying their #union signs and making sure their co-workers understand the importance of sticking with their union. Pictured below are George Kaczegowicz and Connie Saxl, members of Local 1303-366, Fairfield Professional & Technical Employees.

“I am a proud union member,” Womack said. “Union jobs have historically been a path to the middle class for people of color. My AFSCME union is a voice for fair pay and equal treatment of women in the public sector.”

She added, “There’s a famous saying that a rising tide lifts all boats. Unions are the rising tide for thousands of workers who are part of Connecticut’s middle class. I’m here to tell you: The forces behind Janus are not going to sink us. Not today, not tomorrow, not next year, not ever.”

Click here 
to learn more about the lawsuit and access information and tools to resist the forces that funded it.