The Labor Tribune

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Seizing on wave of collective action, AFL-CIO launches nationwide ad campaign calling on working people to organize


Working people’s freedoms are under attack

Washington – In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court is set to decide a case called Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, which threatens to take away the freedom of working people to join together and negotiate for better wages and working conditions.

The far-right conservative majority on the high court is widely expected to rule against AFSCME and, in so doing, impose “right-to-work” conditions on all public-sector employees.

In response to Janus and federal and state-level attacks on working people, the AFL-CIO has launched a major, nationwide print and digital ad campaign calling on working people to join together in the face of continued corporate assaults on the freedom to join together in a union.

An open letter to working people, penned by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, ran in USA Today, the Washington Post and regional newspapers in nine states, including Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Massachusetts.

Trumka’s letter is an urgent call to action: “If you want a raise, better benefits and the dignity of having a voice on the job, we’re saving a seat for you. Join us — be a part of the fight to build a brighter future for you, your family and working people everywhere.”


An additional digital ad campaign is reaching out workers online, directing them to, a new website that outlines efforts by wealthy corporate interests to take away the freedoms of working people.

The website also offers:

• Background on Janus v. AFSCME, a case funded by the anti-worker, anti-union Koch brothers to deprive teachers, fire fighters and other public-sector workers of their freedom to join together.

• Resources for forming a union and information about ongoing organizing campaigns.

All working people should have safe working conditions, family-sustaining wages and benefits, and the necessary time to care for our loved ones; and unions are the best way for working people to create better workplaces.

Corporate CEOs know this. They know unions help working people get a fair return on work, and some CEOs have used their wealth and privilege to influence politicians to rig the economic system in their favor. They want to stifle the voices of working people and limit the freedom to join unions.


The AFL-CIO’s ad campaign comes as a wave of collective action continues to sweep the country.

As striking teachers march and secure raises even in anti-labor states, working people from all backgrounds are embracing the power of solidarity.

Unions’ approval rating has broken above 60 percent, while dissatisfaction with corporations has risen to similarly high levels.

Young people, who are disproportionately impacted by corporate-driven policy decisions, have been leading the most recent surge in unionization. Of the 262,000 new union members last year, more than three-quarters were under the age of 35.

This trend has continued steadily into 2018. Last month, nearly 15,000 workers organized unions in a single week, ranging from nurses and flight attendants to Harvard graduate workers.

“From the boardroom to the steps of the Supreme Court, a dark web of corporate interests is trying to stop us with everything it has,” writes Trumka. “But no matter what any CEO or lobbyist does, we’re standing up for the freedom to join together in a union.”


Even if the corporate-backed Janus case is decided against working people, unions will remain the best way for working people to advocate for workplace rights and counter the influence big money corporate interests have on our democracy.

A wave of working people are joining together to make a difference in their workplaces and communities.

Among the many successes of 2018:

• Nearly 1,100 postdoctoral researchers at the University of Washington.

• Teachers and staff at City on a Hill school in New Bedford, MA.

• Burgerville restaurant workers in Portland, OR.

• 235 employees at Nestle Purina in Edmond, OK.

• 5,000 JetBlue in-flight crew members.

• More than 5,000 Harvard University teaching and research assistants in Cambridge, MA.

• Some 700 employees at Atlanta Gas Light.

• Registered nurses and personal support workers at Spectrum Health Care in Toronto.

• Registered nurses at Stanford Health Care’s ValleyCare Medical Center in Pleasanton, CA.

• Nurses and staff at UMass Memorial Hospital in Marlborough, MA

• Hundreds of employees at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut.

• Staff from nine Democratic election campaigns.

• The editorial staff at The Onion, Jacobin and Mic.

• Aviation workers at the Federal Aviation Administration’s Eastern, Central and Western service centers.

• Teachers at California Virtual Academies.

• Parking production assistants in New York City.

• Food service workers at Airbnb in San Francisco.

• Staff at KUOW-FM 94.9 in Seattle.

• Employees at Micro-Clean.

• Emissions workers in Michigan.

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