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Workers Stand Up To Supreme Court Threat

by Pablo Ros  |  January 11, 2016

Workers Stand Up To Supreme Court Threat Stephen Mittons, a child protection investigator and AFSCME member from Illinois, addresses workers gathered outside the Supreme Court. (Photo by Jennifer Li)

WASHINGTON – Hundreds of workers assembled outside the U.S. Supreme Court today to protect their voice on the job and protest the ongoing attacks against working families from wealthy special interest groups.

Inside, the Court was hearing oral arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, an attack on public-sector unions from wealthy special interests that could harm workers’ ability to have a voice on the job. The case has generated support for workers from various quarters, from states’ attorneys to editorial writers.

“We know that without a strong voice on the job, we’ll lose the ability to advocate for the safety and training our communities rely on,” said Dovard Howard, a certified control systems technician and AFSCME member from Riverside, California. “It is only through a strong union that we have been able to win improvements in training and safety systems at my worksite.”

Howard joined a dozen other public-sector workers who spoke publicly about the need for unions to remain strong.

Dovard HowardDovard Howard speaks in front of the Supreme Court (Photo by Kevin Contee)

“I’m a conservative myself, but I certainly don’t agree with the plaintiffs in this case,” he said. “No one is required to join a union and no one is required to pay any fees that go to politics or political candidates. Everyone has a voice in a union – we’re a democracy, with many opinions. But ultimately, we agree on sticking together to make a strong union and joining together to improve our family’s lives and the services we provide our community.”

Stephen Mittons, a child protection investigator and AFSCME member from Illinois, said his union is vital to his and his co-workers’ ability to do their jobs and serve their communities.

“It is frightening to me that the same CEOs and corporate interests who have been manipulating the rules of our economy for decades are now trying to make it harder for working people like me and my co-workers to come together, speak up, and get ahead,” Mittons said. “This would weaken our ability to protect our communities and deliver the services people rely on.

“For example, our union is a vital partner in the implementation of a federal decree that monitors caseloads,” he continued. “I worry that if our voices are weakened, we could see our ability to monitor safe caseloads undermined. Without a strong voice on the job, we’ll lose the ability to advocate for the children in the system – this I know for sure. We can’t afford to let any child slip through the cracks because of backlogs and irresponsible staffing and caseloads.”

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