"This is just part of the long war that corporations and those in power have waged against working people and the labor movement since its' inception," said AFSCME Council 3 president Patrick Moran, standing with fellow union members and allies outside the Supreme Court Monday morning. "We're going to fight back, as we always have. It'll look different, maybe sound different but it'll still be the labor movement and we'll still be sticking up for the average person."
Corey Upchurch, chief steward for AFSCME 1959, which represents DC public school bus drivers, says that his local, like much of AFSCME in recent years, has been working on signing up members. "We work to get them more involved in the union, make sure they understand what's at stake," he said, rubbing his hands together against the chilly morning air. "We've signed up eleven hundred members out of twelve hundred and forty nine workers but we're still working to get that last one hundred and forty nine workers joined up."
SEIU Local 400 Political Director Cynthia Collins added that custodial workers from Prince Georges County public schools -- members of Local 400 -- had attended the rally because "They remember how things were before they had a union, when they made just $1.50 an hour but now they have a decent standard of living, were able to send their children to college, buy a house, even taken occasional vacation. Why shouldn't they have a part of the American Dream?"
A decision in the case is due before the end of June.
On today’s labor calendar, the Shanker Institute sponsors “Teacher Tenure: An Outmoded ‘Job for Life’ or Essential Right to Due Process?” at the AFT from 12 – 2pm. Go to dclabor.org for details and to register.
Here’s today’s labor history:
On this date in 1874, as unemployed workers demonstrated in New York's Tompkins Square Park, a detachment of mounted police charged into the crowd, beating men, women and children with billy clubs.
In 1919, Latino citrus workers struck in Covina, California.
And in 1924, as the nation debated a constitutional amendment to rein in the widespread practice of brutally overworking children in factories and fields, U.S. District Judge G.W. McClintic expressed his concern, instead, about child idleness.
Today’s labor quote is the Psalm of the Freeloader. The original source is unknown but we found it in Con Carbon’s wonderful Friday's Labor Folklore and it seems especially appropriate in the wake of this week’s Friedrichs arguments at the Supreme Court:
The dues paying member is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He provideth me with rest days and vacations.
So that I may lie down in green pastures Beside the still waters.
He restoreth my back pay.
He guideth my welfare without cost to me.
I stray in the paths of the non-righteous For my money's sake.
Yea, though I alibi and pay no dues From generation to generation
I fear no evil, for he protects me.
The working conditions which he provides, They comfort me.
He annointeth my head with the oil of worker's compensation
Sick pay, holidays, and a pension.
He represents me in grievances.
And my cup runneth over with ingratitude.
Surely his goodness and loving kindness Shall follow me all the days of my life Without cost to me.
And I shall dwell in his house forever And allow him to foot the bill.
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