War on Workers, Part 3: How workers are already fighting back

In These Times: “A Guide to ‘Friedrichs,’ the SCOTUS Case That Could Decimate Public Sector Unions”

Some of the most intelligent writing about Friedrichs has appeared in the progressive In These Times. This resource guide includes links to its major stories on the case and why Friedrichs does not have to be labor’s death knell, but could be the bell tolling its re-invigoration.

Social Policy: “Is A Progressive Phoenix Rising? The New Labor Movement is Approaching”

A phoenix may be rising in the struggle to remake a strong labor movement in the United States. After decades of hand wringing over the illnesses afflicting labor unions and hundreds of suggested prescriptions from movement sympathizers and strategists, a fundamental transformation may finally be upon us.

Morning Shift: “Friedrichs Goes To Court”

Unions like AFT and AFSCME have already responded as though the court will rule against them. “Public sector unions haven’t been sitting passively by as the judicial juggernaut approaches,” the Washington Post’s Lydia DePillis wrote in July. “Rather, they’ve embarked on an broad ‘internal organizing’ effort, reaching workers who may have been paying agency fees for years and never had any contact with a union representative.” Conservative groups point to this activity to argue that Friedrichs is not the death knell for unions that many assume.

The Guardian (UK): “Wisconsin’s public-sector unions plot fightback as supreme court case looms”
by Steven Greenhouse, former NY Times labor reporter

Wisconsin’s labor leaders cheered when their nemesis, Scott Walker, dropped out of the presidential campaign last September. … But while Walker’s political ambitions may have been thwarted, four years on Wisconsin’s public-sector unions remain humbled too.

With Walker’s hard-won 2011 law crippling their ability to bargain and diminishing their ranks, the state’s public-employee unions are struggling to figure out how to increase their strength, membership and collective voice. The plight of Wisconsin’s unions could point the way for public-employee unions nationwide if the supreme court, in a closely watched case to be heard on 11 January, prohibits any requirement that government workers pay any fees to the unions that represent them.

Morning Shift: “Wisconsin Case Study”

How are public employee unions doing in Wisconsin? Not great. Wisconsin’s AFSCME local … lost two-thirds of its members and funding after the enactment of Act 10, Steven Greenhouse reports in the Guardian. In many workplaces AFSCME isn’t bargaining at all because it’s too expensive and/or too onerous. …

AFSCME’s best-case scenario is that the union’s considerable setbacks in Wisconsin will prompt a renewal there of labor activism. “When we talk to potential union members, we explain, ‘Your working conditions aren’t going to get better unless we act as a unit, as a union,’” AFSCME’s Paul Spink told the Guardian. “We have to relearn the lessons of labor from the 1930s and 1940s — of collective action and collective message.” Wisconsin union members can take some heart from Walker’s high disapproval rating in the state: It was 60 percent in October.

Read: Part 1  | Part 2  | The View from California

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About Randy Lyman

SEIU Local 1021 Communications Dept.

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