A Positive Reflection

In a couple of weeks, the Supreme Court will be hearing arguments in Janus v. AFSCME. This is a tremendously important case that has implications not just for teachers, but for all public sector unions. I’m in the process of writing a summary of what this case is about and what it means, but first this…

A lot of what we post definitely falls under the “bad news” category, and it would be easy to conclude that things are terrible for unions. But the fact is, there’s a lot of reason for optimism, and as we start a new year, I think it’s worth highlighting that.

Over the past 2-3 years, tenure, seniority, and other job protections have come under attack on a number of fronts – and been successfully defended by NYSUT, AFT, NEA and locals like SWRTA. There are still threats out there, but they’ve been diminished greatly and we continue to keep them down. We’ve also persevered in the fight against state testing and the insanity of APPR, pushing back hard and minimizing the damage (more on that below).  This year, NYSUT took the lead in labor coalitions that scored two HUGE victories – the against-the-odds victory of Christine Pelligrino and the resounding defeat of the Constitutional Convention.

What all of these have in common is that they would not be possible without strong unions. They reinforce what we do and why we do it, and they give us hope for what’s coming.

  • APPR: At the risk of being too optimistic, there is talk that this may be the year in which we will finally get rid of APPR as we know it. According to various sources, we may finally be able to push the legislature to make some real changes. It’s a bit of a longshot and would require tremendous effort, cooperation, and work, but there is real hope right now. In the coming months, we may be asking for your participation in making this happen, so stay tuned.
  • Janus: As noted above, the other big news on the horizon is the Janus case. To put it bluntly, Janus legitimately represents an existential threat to the labor movement and could have very negative consequences for every one of us. At the same time, given everything above, there is very real reason to believe that we can survive (and maybe even thrive) in the face of this threat. More on that to come.

Stay strong and stay warm.

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