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The Beacon: What's Next?

Monday, January 29, 2018
When you reflect on the last few years, it has been one long fight trying to preserve our system. Public education is again under attack and we need to stay vigilant. Together we defeated a reopening of the NYS Constitution through a vote in November. Now public education; specifically unions is under attack once again.
The current law allows, every union-represented teacher, police officer, caregiver or other public service workers to decide whether they are part of the union or not — but the union negotiates for all workers regardless if they join or not.
The Janus v. AFSCME case is a case that if they ultimately rule in favor of Mark Janus, it will put an end to the practice of public sector unions charging agency fees to non-members. The reality now is that no one has to join a union. This case is about hurting the union’s ability of working people coming together to work and negotiate for workplace issues such as fair wages, hours, benefits, etc. Many people might not join the union and contribute without fully understanding what the union does for them. This would weaken the union tremendously.
Mark Janus, the plaintiff, is a child support specialist for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) represents Janus and the other 35,000 state employees in Illinois. “The union voice is not my voice. The union’s fight is not my fight,” Janus wrote. Janus works for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. In a statement, he explained why he brought his case: “To keep my job at the state, I have to pay monthly fees to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a public employee union that claims to ‘represent’ me,” Janus says.
“I’m filing this case on behalf of all government employees who want to serve their community or their state without having to pay a union first.”
Civil Rights groups have sided with the unions. “The Supreme Court, and all of our courts must be guided by the law and the Constitution, not politics. The Court should reject this political attack on long-settled rights of working people,” Seema Nanda, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human
Rights, said in a release.
If this were to happen, this could weaken our unions which do so much to ensure our pay is fair, negotiate our benefits, and contribute much of their union dollars to help the
communities they work in.
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