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Building Strong Unions: Get ready for the Janus decision!

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Solidarity rallies statewide on Decision Day; WSLC plans June 6 training


UPDATED (June 21, 2018) — This includes some changes regarding the highway overpass demonstrations, including the addition of a location in Tacoma.

UPDATED (June 12, 2018) — The U.S. Supreme Court will now be releasing opinions on Thursdays in addition to Mondays, so this story has been updated to reflect that change. Also, Decision Day rally updates on Bellingham (cancelled), Everett (added), and Olympia (only if it’s a Monday and a 2 p.m. start time), plus some locations for Decision Day sign-waving at highway overpasses.

(May 31, 2018) — Is your union ready for the Janus decision?

As part of its Building Strong Unions efforts, the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO is urging all affiliated unions — whether they represent public or private employees — to get ready in three ways:

1) Make plans to join in solidarity rallies and activities planned throughout Washington state on Janus Decision Day;

2) Attend a special daylong Janus Preparation Training on Wednesday, June 6 at the WSLC’s Seattle office (or via webinar); and

3) Check out the Building Strong Unions TOOLKIT to help your union get ready for Decision Day and thereafter.

Read on to find out how to go 3-for-3!

At 7 a.m. on a Monday or Thursday (or Friday, June 22) in June, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision in Janus v. AFSCME and impose “Right to Work Is Wrong” restrictions on all public employees nationwide. That means all state and local governments and all public employee unions will be banned from agreeing to fair-share provisions in their contracts, and the unions will be required to represent non-members, even if they don’t pay a penny to support the effort.

By 7:30 a.m. that Monday or Thursday, The Stand will post the official decision and say it’s “go time” for Janus Decision Day Solidarity Rallies that day from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Bellingham, Everett, Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane and Vancouver, Wash. (Download an event flier for details.) NOTE: The rally in Olympia will be at 2 p.m. and only if it’s a Monday, as it will be combined with the regular Monday rally of the Poor People’s Campaign.

Union members and their community supporters will rally on Decision Day to say: We are more resolved than ever to stick together and fight back!

Also that day, starting at 4:30 p.m., union members will be expressing their solidarity and determination to keep unions strong by waving Union Strong signs and banners at highway overpasses throughout the state. Seattle-area locations will be at the I-5 overpasses at N. 92nd Avenue, NE 45th Avenue, Olive Street, Madison Street, Yesler Way, and Albro Place (new) in Tacoma at S. G St. For information about other locations, email WSLC Field Mobilization Director Cherika Carter or call her at 206-281-8901.

In the meantime, the WSLC will conduct a Janus Preparation Training on Wednesday, June 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at its Seattle office, 321 16th Ave. South. Union leaders and staff are urged to join the WSLC on June 6 to share and learn about best practices for Janus preparation and internal organizing techniques to build union strength before and after Janus. There is no cost and lunch will be provided. To register to attend in person or via webinar, contact the WSLC’s Richard Cox via email or by calling 206-281-8901.

Is your union prepared to field calls from members who want to withdraw? Do you understand what to do with money collected from existing fee-payers on Janus Decision Day? Do you know what new laws the Washington State Legislature just passed that will help keep unions strong? Find out the answers to these and many other questions at the June 6 training!

Also, the WSLC has posted an important Building Strong Unions TOOLKIT for internal use by its affiliated unions on a password-protected page of the WSLC website. This communications toolkit will help Washington’s unions speak as one and defend against this attack by corporate CEOs and right-wing billionaires (and the think tanks they fund). To request a link/password for the private page where this toolkit and many other helpful Janus preparation materials are posted, fill out this form.

Because the fix has been in on the Janus decision for more than a year, WSLC-affiliated unions have been preparing for it by doing what they do best: organizing. Only now, those efforts are being focused inward to get existing members to commit to sticking together for good wages and strong contracts.

The WSLC hosted a statewide Labor Summit in February to prepare for the post-Janus world. Union leaders, staffers and stewards from across the state gathered to find out what their peers are doing to keep their unions strong and share best practices for re-engaging members. Local unions say that this work is inspiring their members and staffs. Some report that it’s galvanizing their unions to fight harder and become more militant in the face of these blatantly political attacks.

“We are committed not only to sustaining the labor movement in this state, but also to building and strengthening it so more working people can negotiate a fair return for their hard work,” said WSLC President Jeff Johnson. “No court decision is going to stop us from joining together to fight for good jobs, safe workplaces, equal pay for women and dignity at work for everyone.”

The day the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Janus case, hundreds of union members throughout the state expressed their solidarity in a variety of ways. They rallied, did banner drops, leafleted, or simply wore their union colors to work. The message: when we stand strong in our unions, we have the power to win for our communities and our families.

Make sure you join in the Janus Decision Day solidarity events! Stay tuned to The Stand — especially early Monday mornings in June — to participate.

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