Laurence Young believes strongly in the fight to ensure collective bargaining rights for public sector workers. So strongly, in fact, that he traveled cross country from his California home so he could be at the U.S. Supreme Court Monday when the court heard “Janus v. AFSCME,” a case that threatens to undermine unions that represent public employees across the U.S.
The University of California at Santa Barbara library employee, who is a business agent for Local 2010 at the campus, got into the court briefly to hear Justice Elena Kagan stand up in support of unions. Outside the high court, he said he was energized by the hundreds of pro-union demonstrators who were fighting back against the corporate-fueled agenda.
“I see this case as affecting unions nationwide, not just public sector unions, so I see this as an attack on working people across the country,” Young said. “You can get a sense of that from the backers of this case, the Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity, all of these right-to-work groups that are funding this case. Their issue is not about the public sector or even free speech. They want to destroy unions across the country.”
He added, “This is a key moment for labor in the United States, and I wanted to be here in the nation’s capital to hear it argued in the Supreme Court.”
But that’s not all he did as part of his trip. He also joined scores of fellow Teamsters and many others at the D.C. rally for the “Working People’s Day of Action,” part of a nationwide gathering where workers came together to stick up for union power on the job. He said the event offered an opportunity to connect with his fellow union members.
“It was a tremendous moment, a great group of folks came out,” Young said. “We had some terrific speakers there. But more important than that was the chance to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with my union sisters and brothers from across the nation.”
The Teamsters are standing up against Janus because union jobs pave the way to a middle-class lifestyle. The median union worker makes more than $200 more a week than non-union workers. That's why the Teamsters stressed the need for more union jobs in its “Let's Get America Working” campaign that debuted in 2015. Workers earning more don’t just help their families; they help the economy at large as well because they spend more.
Though the Supreme Court Justices will ultimately have the final say in the Janus decision, the Teamsters and working people across the country can be proactive by speaking about the benefits of a union, increasing membership and remaining unified. That way, over-compensated corporate executives who want total freedom to rewrite work rules to lower wages and eliminate benefits will realize that our collective voices cannot be silenced.