Feb. 2019 Advocate: President’s Perspectives


Revitalized union activism across the country and in our district

by Paul Rueckhaus, AFT 1493 President

It has been six months since the Supreme Court decided to rule in favor of Janus v. AFSCME—a case that has the potential to devastate public employee unions by making payment for membership optional. This was a case that was meant to eviscerate the labor movement and send public employees running for the hills from their unions.

Since the Janus decision, union memberships have actually increased. AFT membership nationwide has added close to 100,000 new members to the organization. School districts across the country from Los Angeles to Virginia have seen a revitalization in labor activism from their memberships as charter school teachers have also been organizing and demanding improvements to salaries, and working and learning conditions. Indeed, salaries and benefits have only been a small piece of teacher demands in recent victories. Class size limits, support services and environmental improvements have been central to organizing campaigns. [See the article in this issue on the L.A. teachers strike.]

This revitalization in labor activism and union participation has come from broad based campaigns with large swaths of energized, committed, activated faculty committed to giving students the learning conditions they deserve. As we renegotiate our contract, our power and success will come from the engagement, support and even activism of you and the entire faculty. We are beginning to work with faculty from each academic division to assure that there is a regular and open feedback loop between the bargaining team and all of you. Pay close attention to The Advocate, e-mail updates and division meeting reports throughout the semester.