Dear Esteemed Colleagues,

Today, the US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of Mark Janus in the Janus v. AFSCME case. The ruling overturned decades of precedent and eliminated the ability of public sector unions to collect fair share or agency fees.

This case was not about an individual’s free speech or the First Amendment or workers right to use their money as they see fit. This case was brought to the Supreme Court with the aim of weakening public sector unions like AFT, CSEA and AFSCME, the organizations representing our District’s bargaining units. The weakening of public employee labor organizations is a weakening of the institutions that serve the public. In our case, it is not only an attack on workers, but also an attack on our students and our communities. Having strong labor organizations across our campuses means that students encounter faculty, staff, and facilities workers who have job security, decent wages and benefits, rights to due process, and reasonable workloads. Good learning conditions for students depends upon good working conditions for teachers, staff and facilities workers. It is your membership that stabilizes a secure working environment and allows us to continue fighting and advocating for fairness in the workplace.

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision, you will likely be the target of a fierce propaganda campaign  aimed at convincing you to relinquish your union membership and “save your dues.” Though you contribute only 1.2% of your salary to your union, we stretch that money as far as possible to perform essential functions for you such as:

  1. Fund collective bargaining for fair wages, raises and cost of living
    • Faculty salaries have increased by 5% over the last 2 years
    • 1 step has been added to the full time and adjunct faculty schedule in the last year
  2. Allow us to improve and enforce our contract
    • Existing weaknesses in our contract around workload and part time parity are actively being addressed
  3. Support faculty grievances when faculty feel that their rights have been violated
    • We have seen a disturbing increase in the number of investigations opened by HR over the last 3 years. AFT is the first stop for faculty under investigation or in need of assistance with a grievance of their own
  4. Allow us to monitor the distribution of District budgets and moneys to ensure that instruction is adequately and fairly funded
    • Our District has been in violation of the state law that requires community college districts to spend at least 50% of their operating budget on instruction. We are holding their feet to the fire to make sure that they comply with the state mandate.

We could not accomplish half of what we do without a faculty as engaged as you. This is not my union. This is not the Executive Committee’s union. This is your union—our union. Our union enjoys a membership rate approaching 90% of all SMCCD faculty. That is a tremendous sign of support and engagement. As the president of your union, I speak for the entire EC, when I say that we feel a tremendous responsibility to honor your support and make your membership count. We can’t do it completely on our own, though. The Supreme Court’s action is just one battle in a long war against organized labor. We need to all stand strong together to to continue the fight for fair and favorable working conditions.

If you would like to get more involved to fight for a strong public sector union or if you have questions about the Supreme Court case or your membership, don’t hesitate to contact any member of the Executive Committee.

In unity,


Paul Rueckhaus
President, AFT 1493

The labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed levels of production. Those who attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them.

–Martin Luther King, Jr.