The US Supreme Court just issued a ruling attacking public employees' freedom to join strong unions. WPEA members are responding by gathering at rallies around the state today to show that we're sticking together, no matter what the court says.
In response to today’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, WPEA President Kent Stanford issued the following statement:
“WPEA members have worked together for over 60 years to negotiate for better wages, better lives, and better public services. No Supreme Court case or political attack is going to stop that.
“Unions are the great counterweight to corporate special interests and the wealthy elite, and to employers when they fail to recognize good working people. Our own state’s history shows that if corporate billionaires are left unchecked, the government will sacrifice our members’ salaries and ignore our hard work, just to protect corporate tax loopholes. There must be someone to stand up for working people and present our points of view. After all, we do the work and we know how it benefits the public.
“WPEA members will keep fighting. We’ll fight to protect our members’ pension plan, we’ll fight for the cost of our health care, we’ll fight for our vacation and sick leave, we’ll fight for a flexible work schedule, and we’ll fight for better wages.
“We’ve come too far to turn back the clock on protections for working people.”
WPEA members across the state affirmed the value of sticking together with their coworkers, despite the ruling from the court. “In the face of an attack, I think public employees need to stand together,” said Becky Turnbull, a Library and Archival Professional at Bellevue College, “Union membership is an investment in and a commitment to all workers. Individually, we could each ask administration for a raise or an ergonomic chair, but there’s more power when a group of employees stands together and requests a seat at the table where wages are being negotiated.”
“With the decision coming out, it’s even more critical for people to get involved,” said Frank Marshall, who works at the Department of Revenue in Tumwater. “In today’s world, nobody’s watching out for us. We need to stand up and watch out for ourselves, so we can keep up the work of fighting for pay raises and better working conditions.”
WPEA members identified the freedom to negotiate for better wages and working conditions as vital to their work serving the public. “It is important to our communities as a whole that there are service workers that are earning a living wage,” said Michelle Peña, a Program Support Supervisor at Columbia Basin College, “I go to work each day to serve a diverse population of people from my community knowing that I have job security through the union. I am happy in this knowledge and happy in the services that I provide to many students who in turn contribute to our community as future nurses, radiologists, entrepreneurs, etc.”
“As Americans, we have always lived by the promise of hope and prosperity,” said Peña. “How can we continue to support this message if we are not valuing our workers?”