On arriving at the building, however, security employees would not let the members past the lobby, and the center’s staff refused to speak to them.
to learn more about CIR and the corporate interests funding the case.
As part of the America Works Together coalition, AFT is helping forge a strong group of allies that includes a broad swath of labor and progressive organizations. The coalition’s efforts begin with a rigorous defense against Friedrichs, but also extend long-term to the real antidote to the threat: increased and thorough member and community engagement.
Illinois high school teacher and AFT union member Pankaj Sharma spoke that same day at a press briefing organized by the Alliance for Justice (AFJ), another coalition of advocacy organizations. Sharma spoke of how his strong, vibrant union has advocated effectively not only for school employees, but also for the community at large on a range of issues.
“The union has been on the forefront of stopping cuts for the most marginalized and endangered students,” he said. “I know that I have the academic freedom to teach about controversial events with a union that is there to support me,” added Sharma, a member of the North Suburban Teachers Union.
Also speaking at the briefing were union members Robert Bullock, a child protection worker from Massachusetts, and Vincent Variale, a lieutenant with the New York Fire Department and a 9/11 first responder. Both stressed how their communities had benefited from strong unions and their proven records of advocating for public safety and welfare.
“A hit to the union would be a hit to the community,” Variale said.
Reporters also heard from experts Sarah Leberstein, senior staff attorney with the National Employment Law Project (NELP), and Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Both gave a national scope to the importance of the case and warned that an anti-worker ruling would jeopardize unions’ ability to solve some of society’s toughest problems.
Mishel said that weakened public sector unions would undercut our ability to address two great inequalities: the large share of income accruing to the very top of society, and the inequality in political voice that working Americans now suffer.
for EPI’s report on the economic impact of the erosion of collective bargaining in the U.S.
for our previous update from last summer when the Court’s majority decided to hear the case.