Union resolutions

Resolution regarding the Janus v. AFSCME case

WHEREAS, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in the fall of 2017; and

WHEREAS, the plaintiffs in the case charge that the fair-share fees collected by public-sector unions collect from workers who don’t become members are a violation of the dissenting workers’ First Amendment rights; and

WHEREAS, this challenges federal case law set nearly 40 years ago when in 1977 the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Abood v. the Detroit Board of Education that although public school teachers cannot be required to join a union or to contribute to the union’s political expenditures, they can be required to pay their fair share of the costs that the union incurs in negotiating and administering an agreement on behalf of all teachers; and

WHEREAS, this case and its dangers are substantively similar to the case of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, for which a lower court ruling in favor of the defendants only prevailed due to a vacancy on the Supreme Court; and

WHEREAS, the Janus plaintiffs have followed the same legal strategy as the Friedrichs plaintiffs; and

WHEREAS, newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is likely to side with the four justices who were willing to rule with the plaintiffs in Friedrichs; and

WHEREAS, a court decision in favor of the Janus plaintiffs could effectively prevent school districts from collecting so-called “agency fees” from nonunion members represented by teachers unions and other public-sector unions as well; and

WHEREAS, this means that although public-sector unions would still be obligated to represent all members of their bargaining units, they would no longer be assured of receiving fees to compensate them for the costs of representing nonmembers, which could deeply undercut the unions’ financial viability; and

WHEREAS, the Janus case is driven by the same movement that has been working for at least two decades to undermine labor unions so as to reduce their influence on politics and public policy on behalf of teachers and other working people; and

WHEREAS, an adverse decision on Janus has the potential to weaken union power and solidarity by dividing union members from nonmembers; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the UFT will continue to educate our members about this case that could put an unjust financial burden on public-sector unions and cause great harm to the influence of the labor movement; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT will support our AFT and NYSUT affiliates as well as other unions in their efforts to oppose an anti-worker ruling from the Supreme Court on this case; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT will mobilize our members in protest of this union-busting lawsuit; be it further

RESOLVED, that in order to strengthen its connection to rank-and-file members and convince them to stay “Union Loud and Proud,” the UFT will redouble its efforts to train members in how to enforce our contract, teach members how to be organizers in their schools and support all chapters in these bottom-up efforts; and therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the UFT will continue the systematic campaign to commit members to pledge to stay union members should an anti-union verdict be reached. We will conduct this campaign provisionally before, not after, a Janus verdict is given; and be it

RESOLVED, the campaign will consist of UFT members making presentations to schools in New York City; and be it 

RESOLVED, the pledge will be easily accessible on the UFT website.

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