CEA Advisor: Summer 2018

CEA Advisor: Summer 2018

2 CEA ADVISOR SUMMER 2018 MOBILIZING IN THE FACE OF SUPREME COURT RULING, TEACHERS, OTHER UNION MEMBERS VOW TO STAND STRONG Anti-union forces behind Janus v. AFSCME seek to undermine workers’ rights, teachers’ freedoms In its decision in Janus v. AFSCME , the U.S. Supreme Court struck down nearly four decades of precedent and legal protections established by the unanimous decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education . The decision attempts to tear down unions. “The Janus case is an effort to take away educators’ freedom to speak with a unified voice about their workplace, their profession, and the well-being of their students,” said CEA Executive Director Donald Williams. “It’s an attempt to take away the rights of men and women to collectively bargain for fair salaries, benefits, and working conditions.” Janus v. AFSCME revolved around the issue of whether nonunion members should benefit from the wages, benefits, and protections negotiated by the union without paying their fair share for the cost of the negotiations. The case was funded by corporate billionaires and special interest groups looking to undermine workers’ rights. In states like Arizona and Wisconsin, where fair share systems have been abolished, teachers’ voices are being silenced, salaries and benefits have been cut, working conditions have eroded, class sizes are larger, and outcomes for students are often worse. “Despite the court’s decision,” said Williams, “our members are standing together, and CEA will continue to be a potent force for good. Teachers understand the importance of union membership and keeping bargaining power strong. That’s how we best serve our students and ensure a world-class public education system in Connecticut.” United we stand On June 27, when the Supreme Court handed down its ruling, CEA joined other Connecticut unions in a widely covered press conference and rally to show that union members are not taking the threat lying down. “Our members have vowed to fight back against the latest attack on their freedom and their right to collectively bargain,” said Williams. Manchester High School math teacher Kate Dias, president of the Manchester Education Association, led off the rally by reminding those gathered, “The union has long been the vehicle for workers, like teachers, to grow and have power—the power to negotiate a living wage, to influence working conditions, to speak for our students, and to fight for more funding for our public schools, the greatest social equalizer this country has ever had.” To resounding applause, she declared, “This court decision isn’t a silencing act—it’s a rallying cry!” Paraeducator Shellye Davis, co- president of AFT Local 2221, added, “For more than a century, solidarity is what drove our labor movement to make sure that capitalism actually works for working people—not just the top one percent. Through it all, our unions have faced unrelenting attacks by the rich and powerful, whose aim has been to keep the economy rigged against the rest of us. We see that continuing today, in the assault by a network of dark- money donors who weaponized the courts to try to take us down. They’re the ones who pushed the Janus lawsuit, specifically to weaken unions like ours— and silence the voices of all paraeducators, classroom support staff, and millions of other public employees.” Connecticut AFL-CIO President Lori Pelletier summarized, “From brave first responders to dedicated public school teachers to life- saving nurses, our community is strong because of those who answer the call to public service. These public service workers are able to serve their communities better because they are union workers, and as a union, they have the freedom to speak up together to help make our communities strong and safe. The billionaires and corporate CEOs who supported the Janus case are attempting to divide working people and limit our power in numbers. They know that unions give workers a powerful voice in speaking up for themselves, their families, and their communities.” Responding to a reporter’s question about what unions plan to do in response to the court’s decision, one rally attendee put it simply: “We intend to organize more.” The crowd chanted, “They say, ‘Give back.’ We say, ‘Fight back!’” The U and I in union makes us strong Moments after the decision, the attack on teachers ramped up. Outside groups such as the Mackinac Center in Michigan— funded by the Koch brothers and Betsy DeVos—immediately began contacting teachers and encouraging them to drop their Association membership. They sent slick, friendly-sounding emails designed to look like public service announcements and lure members away from the union. Their goal is to do the same thing they did in Michigan—weaken the teachers union, eliminate pensions, cut teacher salaries and benefits, and privatize public schools. Teachers in Connecticut as well as other states with powerful unions began receiving calls and emails right away, pointing them to “hotlines” and websites where they would be greeted by messages purporting to look out for teachers’ best interests. “These are wolves in sheep’s clothing,” said Dias. “They are not out to protect teachers but to privatize our schools, take away our voice, and reduce our pay, healthcare, and retirement benefits. The easiest way for them to accomplish those goals is to bust teachers unions. They won’t succeed here if Connecticut teachers are onto them and if we stick together with our union,” said Dias. “There’s a saying that it’s the U and I in union that makes us strong.” To learn more about protecting your hard-won rights, visit cea.org o r contact your local Association president or CEA UniServ Rep. TEACHERS UNIONS FIGHT BACK Right after the Janus v. AFSCME decision, anti-union groups began sending emails trying to fool teachers into leaving their union. Unions like CEA and the Massachusetts Teachers Association have quickly pulled back the curtain on these groups, revealing the dark-money funders and anti-public education agendas behind these communications. Manchester Education Association President Kate Dias calls Janus a rallying cry. What happens next? If you are a CEA member, you will remain a member. You’ll still receive all the union benefits you have enjoyed over the years. If you were an agency fee member, that arrangement ended with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Janus case. Agency fee members are now nonmembers, only covered by the specific terms of the collective bargaining agreements, and are no longer eligible for benefits of CEA membership, including • Legal services for DCF investigations, terminations, nonrenewal hearings, workers’ comp, unemployment, and other workplace issues • Professional development • Retirement planning workshops • Assistance with teacher certification • Insurance coverage, including complimentary life insurance • Member discounts through CEA and NEA Member Benefits • Voting rights in union elections and contract ratification votes

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