We have been preparing for this day since November 9, 2016.
Teachers who are far removed from the process of why they enjoy a nice quality of life are having a blast on their first week of summer vacation, but their leaders in 22 free bargaining states across the nation just had their summer cut short. As expected, the US Supreme Court found in favor of Mark Janus, who sued his union AFSCME because he feels he doesn't have to pay union dues for all the benefits he receives. On this, the last day of session, the highest court in the land handed over to its citizenry a devilish blow to organized labor - paving the way for instability and civil unrest in and out of the workplace. Neil Gorsuch, Trumps controversial appointment to the Court - assisted in delivering this blow, and in a way the union community is lying in the bed it made.
The Court ruled in its decision that public employee unions now need consent from its members to take out dues from their paycheck. To unions who have poor communications structures, this is going to be a difficult feat. But for those who communicate regularly - those members will know exactly what their dues pay for. In requiring an opt-in process instead of an opt-out, the Court makes New York's Alcantara bill moot. Although at the time the Alcantara bill made us feel good, this "gap legislation" was an excuse for weak union leaders to lean more heavily on their lawyers and political coordinators to solve their upcoming problems of poor communications. Union leaders that worked hard, organized, engaged their members and talked with each of them one-on-one; will have a much better chance of keeping the lights on than the unions who continue to keep their members in the dark because of their unwillingness to adjust their work ethics. The American Federation of Teachers and AFSCME rolled out a one-on-one plan to opt their members in. Their locals who participated in that simple plan will survive. The one's who didn't, well...
The bad guys hit the ground running. As we speak, the Freedom Foundation, which funds Right-to-Work efforts and shares donors with Trump, has been knocking on doors urging public employees to defund their unions. They are succeeding. This week, television ads from the Center for Union Facts are running on CNN and Fox News during the morning and on prime time.
Here's the kicker - this isn't the end of the American Union Movement, to some of us, groups like UCOMM and organizations we admire and respect - the Janus case is just the beginning. The day of solitaire on the PC at the union hall during work hours is over. Hard work, field visits, and contract enforcement should be and will be, the new norm for the next generation of union leaders. It's already happening. Teachers strikes in Right-to-Work states like West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, and Colorado were all successful. Even though there were repercussions, kicking around well-fed teachers in free bargaining states may be easy now - but once you thin out their ranks and make them hungry for rights, you may see a birth of new militancy in the public employee.
The 50,000 strong Culinary Workers Union in Las Vegas is proof positive that labor laws don't matter. Nevada is a Right-to-Work state, but through hard work, organizing and constant communications, they have figured out ways to make unionism work.
Today, we are mad and we think of our 30 plus clients and how hard they have been working to prepare for today. I'm comforted that they will prevail. Today, a new model of unionism was induced out of the womb of our sickly mother we call America; this model mixes organizing with constant communications. Organizing is what has always saved us, and constant communications are what will allow us to grow and survive in this era of Trump.