UFT v. Janus

After the Janus decision came down in June of 2018, it seemed as if all of New York’s unions and labor advocates had mobilized. Governor Cuomo had submitted legislature to protect the power of unions into the 18/19 fiscal budget, which was put in place shortly before the Supreme Court Ruling. United Federation of Teachers became one of the most active unions, and their efforts were not in vain. Fast forward to just over three months, and almost half of UFT’s new hires are full-dues paying members, according to an article on Crain’s. Many of New York’s labor leaders are speculating that UFT’s grassroots methods are the future of the labor movement in New York and across the country.

UFT did a great deal of recruiting to supplement the legislation provided by the City and State. In preparation for the ultimately definite Janus ruling, laws providing incentives for employees and power to union leaders were written into the budget. “The measure Cuomo signed in April, which was incorporated into state budget legislation, required public employers to promptly give unions contact information for all new hires and allow unions to speak to new hires during their first month on the job. It codified that workers may sign up to pay dues electronically”, according to an article posted on the Telegraph Herald.

This is due in a large part to organizing events, labor advocacy and most of all-open, clear information-UFT has managed to sign up a near majority of its new hires since the ruling came down. Having been granted the right to meet with new hires one-one-one, UFT’s Union Representatives had countless one-on-one conversations regarding benefits and union rights. They knew the needs of their employees and managed to approve paid parental leave a few short days before the Janus ruling.

The way in which unions organize, negotiate, and advocate for their members is unique to each union. Finding out and speaking to those needs is how UFT managed to start a positive ripple in a post-Janus work environment.

 

Labor Day 2018

Labor Day has its roots snared in the concrete of thousands of cities and in the hearts of countless communities. The holiday was established to champion the rights of the American worker, and to highlight the importance of improving the American work culture-wages, workers rights, labor laws, and working conditions. One cannot talk about the labor movement without talking about the employees who continue to carry on its legacy.

A day for the worker established by the worker, the first Labor Day Parade was held in New York City almost 130 years ago in 1882. This is nothing short of fitting, since New York has remained one of the most unionized states throughout history. In 1887, New York had officially recognized Labor Day as a holiday and 12 years after the first Parade, in 1894, President Grover Cleveland made it a national holiday. This was in response to the chaotic Pullman Strike, deemed as a catalyst in the labor movement. “It had started when the Pullman Palace Car Company lowered wages without lowering rents in the company town, also called Pullman.”, according to The New York Times. This elevated to a larger movement after railway unions decided to no longer work on Pullman cars, causing chaos throughout the transportation industry.

Fast forward 124 years, the labor movement is still thriving. This is due in large part to the voices unions give their employees through collective bargaining-which still, from time to time, culminates into strikes. The good that unions do for employees and the importance of the labor movement has not been lost in current events-even Janus v. AFSCME, a U.S. Supreme Court case overturning mandated union fees, has not slowed unions. When the verdict came down in spring of 2018, it made mandating union fees unconstitutional under the 1st amendment. It’s main plaintiff, Mark Janus, argued that due to the way that unions work-they are political in nature, as well as that he didn’t want union lobbying for political ideas he didn’t support.

These are the same dues that help with representation for grievance proceedings, collective bargaining, and other main functions of unions. While right-to-work proponents thought they would hit unions where it hurt, many unions actually saw a huge uptick in full-dues paying members-particularly unions for teachers.

Below are links to a number of articles summarizing the rich history of Labor Day. To all employees and laborers everywhere, thank you for your hard work!

The History of Labor Day

What to know about the history of celebrating Labor Day

History of Labor Day: Why it’s celebrated, how it started