Members and leaders of AFT Vermont said today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of wealthy and corporate interests attempts to silence workers and their unions. This decision will not stop AFT Vermont from working to build a better life for themselves, those they serve and their communities.
"We will continue to build our union," said Linda Olson, a member of the Vermont State Colleges Faculty Federation and Vice President of Higher Education, AFT Vermont. "As union faculty and staff at Vermont's public colleges and universities, we organize for fair salary, quality healthcare, and free in-state tuition for all Vermonters."
Deb Snell, RN, President of AFT Vermont, predicted that while the forces behind the Supreme Court are trying to destroy the power of working people, unions will continue to organize and win. "We know that the only way for healthcare and higher education professionals -- and all working people -- to have a real voice at work and at the statehouse is to organize and build strong unions. This attack on unions is just another attempt for the wealthiest Americans to take even more from us."
The Supreme Court's decision, in a case called Janus v. AFSCME, invalidates state laws allowing public sector labor unions to collect fees from everyone in a bargaining unit, including non-members, to pay the costs of bargaining and other representation the union is required to provide for all workers. This case was brought to the Supreme Court in an effort to take away the freedom of working people to join together in strong unions to speak up for themselves and their communities.
Unions have worked because we all pay our fair share and we all benefit from what we negotiate together. Fair share fees have provided public service workers with the power in numbers they need to negotiate better wages, benefits and protections that improve work conditions and set standards for everyone. Each public service worker chooses whether or not to join a union, but the union is still required by law to represent and negotiate on behalf of all public service workers - members and non-members alike. All employees receive the wage increases, benefits and workplace rights negotiated through the union. This decision takes away the right of the union to collect fair share fees, but still requires the union to represent all workers.
According to Snell, "We will continue to organize our members and new members into the union. We know why the corporate interests are attacking unions, but we won't let them stop us".
The American Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do. In Vermont, American Federation of Teachers represents professionals in health care and higher education. http://vt.aft.org/