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 (UFT) 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.