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DA Report

Shifting gears to battle Janus

Resolutions: Two approved

One resolution saluted the union’s founders. Delegates who took part in the firsJonathan FickiesOne resolution saluted the union’s founders. Delegates who took part in the first UFT strike on Nov. 7, 1960, include (from left) Leo Hoenig, Gunther Bechhofer, George Altomare, Mel Aaronson and Ray Frankel. Two labor-related resolutions were approved at the Delegate Assembly on Nov. 8.

One saluted the UFT’s founders who went on strike on Nov. 7, 1960, in order to win the right to belong to a union and negotiate salaries, benefits and working conditions, and pledged to continue fighting for those essentials today.

The other resolution was in support of the reporters and editors of DNAinfo and Gothamist who voted to join the Writers Guild East labor union only to have the billionaire owner of the web publications shut them down.

One battle down. But another important fight to go.

That was UFT President Michael Mulgrew’s message to a triumphant Delegate Assembly on Nov. 8, the day after members helped convincingly defeat the ballot proposal to hold a state constitutional convention.

Mulgrew said it was a monumental achievement that 83 percent of voters voted “no,” considering that 72 percent of those polled a year ago said they would vote “yes.”

“We have never seen a shift so far on one issue in a year,” he said. “Now we have to keep the momentum going because of the Janus case.”

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling by June on Janus v. the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Mulgrew said the same anti-worker forces eager for a constitutional convention are funding the Janus case.

Mulgrew thanked the delegates for their work in defeating Proposal 1. “To everyone who wore a button, put out a lawn sign, drove around with a magnet on your car and spoke to members of your community, I thank you,” he said. “It was wonderful what you did.”

The Janus case, he warned, poses the same serious threat to members’ hard-won rights and benefits.

The lawsuit reprises the same arguments made in the Rebecca Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association lawsuit that ended in a 4-4 ruling after U.S. Justice Antonin Scalia passed away in 2014. The Janus case, like Friedrichs, aims to deprive public-sector unions of the money they need to provide services and negotiate strong contracts. The plaintiffs argue nonmembers should not be required to pay agency fees that help cover the union’s costs of negotiating contracts and providing certain services that benefit all workers in the bargaining unit.

Mulgrew told the delegates that the UFT was about to launch its Union Proud campaign to showcase the rights and benefits that UFT members have because they belong to a strong union. An integral part of that campaign is a door-knocking initiative launched in November. Holding up the new Union Proud logo, Mulgrew explained that UFT member ambassadors will be visiting fellow members’ homes to talk about what’s at stake.

“The constitutional convention vote showed the power we have when we stand together,” Mulgrew said. “We need that same energy now.”

He said every school will need a membership captain to be the point person for the Union Proud campaign.

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