Growth and Strength, No Matter the Law
By IATSE International President Matthew Loeb:
Today, working families in America are at a crossroads. The choices facing us after the decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court on Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 will steer the labor movement as well as influence the course of our nation. We can choose to either stand our ground and fight for our rights, or hide from these anti-union attacks.
The decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 mandated that public-sector unions represent non-dues paying members. The plaintiff in this case was backed by special interest groups actively working to weaken union voices and limit our power in numbers. They prevailed today, and we’re all weaker for it.
I am disturbed by the decision that has come forth from the United States Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the anti-union result is reflective of our current wider political reality. Too few elected representatives are willing to put aside political division to stand with unions, and working families are paying the price. Make no mistake, no union will be sheltered from the ramifications of these decisions. Soon, all working people, not just those in the public sector, will face the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s actions, in the form of diminished bargaining rights and weaker contracts, which will lead to lower wages, attacks on our pensions, and less access to health care.
This is a dark day for all of organized labor, but we can and we must continue to press back against this ongoing assault. I have faith in the tenacity and perseverance of our sisters and brothers in the labor movement. We must continue to grow and strengthen our unions through organizing, no matter what the laws are. We didn’t need permission to fight back against the robber barons of the Gilded Age, and we do not need it to fight back against the robber barons of today.
We see many working families successfully fighting back against a corporate agenda that would diminish our power. Teachers in West Virginia won higher wages and better health care when they went on a wild-cat strike, and union voices spoke out in Pennsylvania when they rejected the anti-union candidate for congress by electing Conor Lamb and his pro-labor message. Our own IATSE members have won hard-fought campaigns to organize new members again and again. We must continue to succeed in these efforts moving forward; this is the path that will ensure a strong IATSE.
I urge all officers in the IATSE to empower our members to mobilize as political activists, fight against so called “right-to-work” and other anti-union legislation, participate in the political process and demand that our elected leaders represent our interests in Washington D.C. The IATSE must get members registered and out to vote and invest in our political process. The 2018 elections will be a critical moment in our history to ensure IATSE workers have a voice at the table.