U.S. Supreme Court decisions often are handed down on Mondays, so each Monday morning I wake up bracing for the Court’s announcement of their decision on the Janus case. We know that when the decision is made —likely not in the favor of working people — the media and broader populace suddenly will be thrown into a nationwide conversation about the relevance of unions and what this decision means for our movement.
While our unions are prepared internally for whatever the decision is, we also need to be prepared to respond to the onlookers of our movement.
We know that unions can survive and thrive in a “Right-to-Work” environment. We can look to our fellow states in the South where “Right-to-Work” has weakened some industries, but successful unions are still alive and well. In Texas, where collective bargaining is illegal for teachers, they still manage to form unions and use their collective power to gain wins in the workplace and for their students.
Right here in Minnesota, our newly-organized SEIU Healthcare Personal Care Attendants have established and successfully grown their union in a “Right-to-Work” environment. Our federal unions like the NALC Branch 9 Letter Carriers long have been “Right-to-Work” and they can boast almost 100 percent participation in their union.
Whatever the courts and lawmakers throw at us, and in whatever ways they attempt to weaken collective bargaining rights, workers will know innately to find ways to still come together for their own prosperity and survival.
These decisions and strategies are part of the billionaire class’s attacks on workers. Our adversaries have a two-part strategy: first elect their politicians and wage legal warfare, then come in with their outside corporate spending to directly attack the unions.
While I await the U.S. Supreme Court decision, it’s what comes after that is the most concerning.
We are expecting outside groups to spend millions of dollars in Minnesota directly contacting our union members — encouraging them to leave their unions. They will hire canvassers to knock on our union members’ doors, send them mail and buy fancy TV ads, all to persuade union members to leave their union.
Union members and our allies must remain defiant despite these well-financed tactics. Our direct communication with our members and our community allies will be more important than ever.
Remember, no one would put this much effort into going after our members if we weren’t making gains for workers.
Workplace leaders will be the front lines of our labor movement as we transition into a “Right-to-Work” environment and as we face these new anti-union tactics.
Like the teachers across the country who are staging statewide walk-outs are showing us, we can persist no matter what comes our way.
Reach out to your union, find out what you can do in your own workplace to ensure your co-workers have accurate information. We all need to work together to make sure union members in every industry feel empowered during what will be a challenging time for our movement.
Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou is president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation,(link is external) AFL-CIO.