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Fighting for Our Future

Oranizing Matters

Maggie Russell-Brown

Maggie Russell-Brown is the director of organizing and field services. If you’re playing a job where you feel disrespected or know that you aren’t being paid fairly, contact Maggie at (212) 245-4802, ext. 157 or mrussell@local802afm.org. You can also call the Local 802 hotline anonymously at (212) 245-4802, ext. 260 to report a job or working situation.

We won the constitutional convention showdown, but right-to-work laws are still looming across the country. The Supreme Court is poised to do its worst. The solution? EDUCATION, AGITATE…and ORGANIZE!

On Nov. 7, New York State voters overwhelmingly rejected Proposition 1 – the constitutional convention ballot question. This victory can be almost single-handedly attributed to the labor movement turning out its members to vote. We opposed the convention because we saw it as an avenue for big business and the radical alt-right to get their fangs in the many progressive elements of our state constitution, erode protections for working people and enact a right-to-work amendment.

Right-to-work laws have been passed in 28 states to date. They make it illegal for a collective bargaining agreement to contain a union security clause, which means that workers can enjoy the benefits of a union contract without having to join the union. As a result, states with right-to-work laws have a very low density of organized labor. Unions in those states have less impact on legislative issues and political campaigns, to the delight of the right wing. The difference is night and day: in right-to-work states, the poverty rate is 15.3 percent higher, workers are 49 percent more likely to be killed on the job, and workers make just over $6,000 less. (That’s why “right-to-work” is often called “right-to-work for less.”)

“WE MUST GUARD AGAINST BEING FOOLED BY FALSE SLOGANS, SUCH AS ‘RIGHT TO WORK.’ ITS PURPOSE IS TO DESTROY LABOR UNIONS AND THE FREEDOM OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING BY WHICH UNIONS HAVE IMPROVED WAGES AND WORKING CONDITIONS OF EVERYONE.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1961

Next June, the Supreme Court will hear the case Janus v. AFSCME. If the right wing prevails in this latest attack, right-to-work will become the law of the land for all public employees. It is a matter of time before a case that deals with the private sector reaches the court, which could result in a full national right-to-work law.

It is more important than ever before to get involved in your union and to not quit when the radical right comes to ask for you to give up your membership. Local 802’s Organizing Department has been speaking with members about right-to-work and the dangers it poses not only to us but also to our communities and our national political direction. We will continue to reach out and do everything we can to prepare Local 802 if the worst happens.

For more information about right-to-work, or to join our efforts to fight back, please don’t hesitate to contact myself or organizers Sarah Koshar or Lily Paulina. Start at (212) 245-4802 and ask for the Organizing Department, or e-mail me at Mrussell@Local802afm.org.

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