Our Freedom to Fight for Good Jobs & Quality Education is Under Attack: What’s really behind the Janus v AFSCME case


Together in our union, we’ve been able to secure wage increases, job protections, paid vacation and sick time, more funding for schools and a voice to improve the services we provide.  And together we’re continuing to fight to expand health care benefits to more families and ensure that all education jobs are good jobs. But we’re facing attacks from anti-worker groups that want to weaken unions.

The people behind these attacks include CEOs of major corporations that support unregulated charter schools and private companies eager to replace public workers with their contractors.

Big corporations only want to increase their profits, and the wealthy few only want to increase their wealth – all at our expense. They do this by:

  • Spending millions each year to influence politicians and manipulate the political process in order to further their interests (read about special interest politics);
  • Filing lawsuits against public employee unions aimed at weakening our collective bargaining power;
  • Pushing down or keeping wages stagnant;
  • Inflating the cost of food and other goods and services;
  • Outsourcing jobs ;
  • Privatizing our schools and other public services.

It is unions that continue to keep good jobs good, fight for the communities we serve, and defend the interests of working people – not the corporations and billionaires. It is unions that started the Fight for $15 movement and pushed cities and states across America to raise the minimum wage to a living wage.  In 2014, our own union negotiated a historic $15 an hour minimum wage increase at LAUSD, which lifted the wage floor for all current and future employees. We have protected and expanded health care benefits, prevented cuts, and fought to bring back funding for education to ensure everyone has access to a quality education.

And this is precisely why we’re under attack by them. Through anti-union, anti-worker front organizations that pretend to be on the side of working people (they go by deceptive names like ‘Freedom Foundation’ and ‘National Right to Work Foundation’), the super rich are bankrolling legislation and frivolous lawsuits aimed at weakening the power of working people.

One of these cases is called Janus vs. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). AFSCME, like SEIU, is a national union with local chapters across the country representing public employees. On February 26, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in this case.

What happens if the billionaires and big businesses get their way?

  • First, it would mean our union will be open to free riders. Free riders are employees who take advantage of the wages, job protections and benefits negotiated in our contracts by dues-paying union members, but who don’t pay their fair share of the costs of negotiating and enforcing those contracts. Employers are paying attention to our numbers. They know who’s part of the union and who isn’t. If they see that we aren’t united, we could lose everything we’ve fought for.
  • Second, our bargaining power would be weakened. The reason we have higher wages and better benefits than non-union workers doing the same job is because, together, we have the resources and the power to negotiate good contracts that benefit all employees in a bargaining unit. In fact, on average, union members earn $207 more per week than non-union workers.
  • Third, our political strength would be undermined. One of the ways unions raise the standard of living for not just union members, but entire communities, is by electing pro-worker candidates and endorsing pro-worker policies that are about good jobs, quality education, and healthy communities. Our agenda is in direct opposition to the pro-business agenda of the corporations and billionaires behind Janus vs AFSCME.

Questions and Answers About Janus vs AFSCME
Note: Click or tap over question to see answer.

What Can We Do to Resist?

  1. Stand in Solidarity with your fellow education workers by renewing your membership with SEIU Local 99 and staying a union member. Solidarity is the one thing no one can take away from us. It’s also our best defense. By re-committing to union membership, you’re making the statement that you’ve got the backs of your fellow education workers.
  2. Know the tricks of anti-union groups. Understand how anti-union groups will try to get you and your co-workers to leave the union. If a stranger visits your home, calls you, or an organization you’ve never heard of mails you literature trying to convince you to resign your union membership by saying things like – “Give yourself a raise,” “It’s your money, your choice,” or “You can keep what you have without your union” – be skeptical and ask yourself why they’re so interested in getting you to resign your membership. Understand what they’re really trying to do and educate your co-workers about they might hear too.
  3. Lead and organize in our union and at your work site. If you care about the well-being of your co-workers, your students, your family and your community, know that the anti-union groups behind the attacks don’t. Doing nothing, being a bystander amidst these attacks hurts you and the things you care about, and helps our enemies. Contact SEIU Local 99 and ask how you can get involved.
  4. Vote. Change begins at home. Vote in city and state elections for candidates who have a record of supporting pro-worker, pro-union policies. By voting for such candidates, we can ensure we have women and men in office who have our interests in mind, and not that of corporate campaign donors. Register to vote here.

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