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by Victor D. Torres

As we enter the Fall season and head towards 2018, there are more challenges facing us than ever before.

Late last month, the US Supreme Court agreed to return to the issue of fees public employees pay to their unions for collective bargaining and other representational matters.

As it stands now, such public-sector employees must pay fair share fees to their union for these services. This system has been upheld for over 40 years as a result of the 1977 Supreme Court decision known as Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.

The current case that the US Supreme Court agreed to hear is known as Janus v. American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Council 31.

Those siding with Janus argue that the current system upheld by the Abood decision, unfairly infringe on their first amendment rights.

Organized labor fiercely disagrees with Janus’ interpretation and argues that fair share fees prevent non-members from free-riding on the collective bargaining services from which they benefit. Earlier this year, AFSCME told the Court that,
“…At its core (the) Abood (decision) acknowledged that certain labor relations interests justify the small intrusion on employees’ First Amendment interests that fair share payments represent.”.

This same question which the 2015-2016 US Supreme Court agreed to hear in the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case, ended in a 4-4 split as a result of the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016.

With the Supreme Court fully staffed with the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Court earlier this year, the future of public sector unions as well as all of organized labor hang in the balance. A decision is expected to be rendered by the Court no later than June 2018.

As we have been reporting to you over the last several years, this is yet another example of the continuing War on Workers bankrolled by the wealthiest and most powerful business interests in our country. In this instance, it carries with it national implications for millions of public employees. The private sector will assuredly be their next target.

As you hear more about this topic which will be permeating through the media over the next few months, consider what the workplace of the future would look like if the Abood case is overturned by the Janus case. In summary, Unions would become the only organizations or businesses in the entire country who are legally required to provide services to people who refuse to pay for them. Equal protection under the law as guaranteed by Section 1 of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, would instantly transform into unequal protection. We are not going to stand by and let this happen.

As many of you know, Local 481, Teamsters JC 42, the International and labor unions throughout the entire country, both public and private sector, are mobilized against this alarming situation. We have been contacting politicians in Washington DC by letter, email and phone voicing our opposition to this attack and demanding that they stand with us. If any politician refuses to stand with us in this regard, they will face a well-funded and well-organized opposition campaign in their next election.

The labor movement has been resilient for countless generations. With your support, we will continue to represent all workers as the powerful political force that we are.

In scholarship news, we are proud to announce the recipients of the Local 481 scholarship awards for 2017. They are Jake Brooks (Zoo), Julian Castellanos (Zoo), Michael Donnellon (Zoo) Marissa Engleman (Parent: Edward Engleman-UPS), Karina Gomboa (Zoo), Jared Hayes (Parent: Matthew Hayes (Safari Park)), Neiva Martinez (Zoo), and Kateri Wojcik (Zoo). Congratulations to all of these hardworking students and their families for participating in this valuable Local 481 program. The 2018 scholarship program will begin by mid-January. Stay tuned to this newspaper and our website for details.

In additional scholarship news, the 2018 John S. Lyons Scholarship Program is now available. Interested applicants must be a high school senior enrolled in the San Diego or Imperial County school system, whose parent or legal guardian is a member in good standing of any local labor union. Students must have a 3.0 or better GPA and participate in community/extracurricular school activities. Contact Danielle Paukner at the San Diego Building Trades office (619) 521-2914 or our office for an application. Deadline to submit is January 26, 2018.

On behalf of the Officers and Staff of Teamsters Local 481, we wish you and your family an enjoyable and safe holiday season.


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