Labor coalition vows ‘Janus will not stop us’
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The coalition of national unions most affected by the Illinois case Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 ruling is predicting an immediate revenue loss as governments stop collecting “fair share” or “agency” fees from non-union employees. “But not the kind of draconian existential threat that the right wing attempted to do when they started this fight,” says Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that government workers who choose not to join unions cannot be compelled to pay “fair share” dues.
The leaders of the nation’s public sector unions(American Federation of Teachers, American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, National Education Association and Service Employees International Union ) held an unusual hour-long conference call to answer reporter questions about the impact of the Janus decision.
No longer can unions take union dues and non-member fees for granted.
Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, represents 3 million teachers across the country. She joined with the group in vowing to step up organizing efforts to convince both members and non-members that union representation has value “letting them know what we’re doing to provide professional support for them and for providing the social justice work that and making sure that every public school is as good as our best public school.
“We’re not going to be devastated by fee payers not having to pay their fee. We’re going to be devastated if we can’t reach out to members and have them see what this agenda is all about,” García explained to reporters.
Union leaders and members participating
Lee Saunders, president, AFSCME
Stephen Mittons, child protection investigator with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
Randi Weingarten, president, AFT
Holly Kimpon, a high school teacher in Genoa, Ohio
Lily Eskelsen García, president, NEA
Dan Greenberg, high school teacher in Sylvania, Ohio
Mary Kay Henry, president, SEIU
Sara Campos, public health specialist in Salem, Ore.
Transcript of the union leaders reacting to Janus
Marianne von Nordeck, Director of Media Relations, AFSCME: We’re joined by four public service workers from around the country who will be affected by today’s decision, as well as the presidents of America’s four largest public service labor unions. Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees; Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association; Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union; and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. We’re going to hear brief remarks from each speaker. And then we are going to open it up for questions. Without further ado, I’m going to turn it to AFSCME President Lee Saunders.
[00:00:36] Lee Saunders, AFSCME: Good afternoon, everyone. Today’s Supreme Court decision makes it perfectly clear working people can’t get a fair hearing before today’s corporate controlled Supreme Court. But let me be perfectly clear, we are not defeated. We are emboldened, emboldened to organize and mobilize to build power and take collective action. Millions of people across the country right now are organizing in unions and recommitting to their unions. Public support for unions a 15-year high. From the very beginning, the Janus case was about one thing and one thing only: corporate CEOs and wealthy special interests rigging the economy even more in their favor. Today the Supreme Court has shown that it is part of a rigged system that benefits the wealthiest Americans and no one else. That silence is the voice of working people and takes away their seats at the table. Recent Supreme Court decisions raise a very real question: Can ordinary people, women, Muslims, working people, LGBTQ people get a legitimate and fair trial before the United States Supreme Court anymore. These are very serious times for our democracy.
[00:01:58] Justice Alito’s decision today is also shocking, claims that unions address and I quote ‘controversial topics’ like the Confederacy and evolution. That just goes to show how far the Supreme Court has drifted to the extreme right. Do they really think the outcome of the Civil War is controversial or quote ‘a sensitive political topic.’ In this context, it is important to remember that right to work which the court is imposing on the entire public sector today has its roots in the racial brutality and oppression of the Jim Crow South. The Janus decision is bad for the economy and bad for democracy. It undermines the idea that working families deserve a fair shake. It hurts communities of color for whom unions have historically been a ladder to the middle class. It flies in the face of our most cherished values. Economic justice, shared prosperity, opportunity for everyone.
[00:03:00] With this decision, the court also overturns a longstanding precedent one that has fostered labor peace, one that has served working people, their employers and their communities well for more than four decades. They have chosen instead to facilitate a political attack on the labor movement and attempt to ‘defund and defang public sector unions.’ Those are the exact words used by the CEO of a coalition of a right wing think tank. But the labor movement is bigger than any Supreme Court ruling. This decision will embolden working people to stick together in strong unions, to strengthen the bonds of solidarity, to continue to build power in numbers and negotiate a fair return on their on their work. We will continue to improve our workplaces and strengthen our communities. We will continue to fight successfully for better wages, benefits and working conditions for everyone, and we will fight on every single front at the bargaining table, at work sites, in organizing campaigns, at the ballot box, in the halls of Congress and state capitals nationwide. Now let me introduce AFSCME Council 31 member Stephen Mittons, a child protection investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. You’ve got it, Stephen.
[00:04:27] Stephen Mittons, AFSCME member: Thank you, president Saunders. My Name is Stephen Mittons, and I am an investigator with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, a Marine Corps veteran and a proud AFSCME member. And here’s what today’s ruling in favor of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and all the other powerful billionaires behind this case really means. The Supreme Court of the United States has just put the political agenda of the wealthy and the powerful before the needs of the communities as well as well as well being Americans working families and family. Quite frankly, it’s shameful. The Supreme Court’s decision hurts the already underserved communities I work from the day to day basis, for all the struggling children, mothers, and fathers whom too often go unheard from our country this decision threatens to silence them even further. But I’m here to tell you we won’t take this lying down. The billionaires behind this case may want to take away freedom from working people to build power together in union and take away everything we’ve worked so hard for all these years. The public service workers never quit on our communities. And we will never quit on each other.
[00:05:37] Across the country today we see workers and their families taking to social media posting photos of themselves with signs that say ‘union’ to proclaim that unions are more important than ever in today’s rigged economy to favor the wealthy and the powerful over the everyday working people. That’s why we’re continuing to organize and fight back. We’re making sure every AFSCME member in the country knows who is behind these attacks on us and what their agenda really means for working families. In the coming days and weeks ahead I’ll still be talking to my co-workers and friends about why we need to stand strong together in our union. Now more than ever, ‘United we bargain, divided we beg.’ It’s just that simple. Thank you President Sanders.
[00:06:25] von Nordeck: Thank you Stephen. Thank you so much. I’m going to move along now to NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia.
[00:06:32] Lily Eskelsen Garcia, NEA: Thank you so much, and I appreciate my union family on this call. NEA represents 3 million teachers, bus drivers, para professionals, cafeteria workers, counselors, librarians, custodians. You work in the American public school college or university, you can be a member of the National Education Association. And I don’t think it will surprise anyone to learn that very few NEA members are millionaires. We got into this business because we love other people’s children. We dedicate our lives to our students, so we want to make very clear that the Janus decision that came down today had absolutely nothing to do with billionaires who funded all of this, caring about fair share payers. This is an absolute unmitigated attack on working families, and they’re attacking unions for one reason and it’s because we have always been the best pathway leading to a strong middle class. We protect the rights, the freedoms, the education opportunities of working people and that is what Janus hopes to put an end to, real freedom for working people, real freedom is when you can earn a decent living wage. It means you can provide for your family that you can take your kids to the doctor when he’s sick, that you can retire with dignity. Those are all things that the billionaires behind Janus have fought against for decades. And that’s why we’re under attack. I would just point out that 75 percent of educators in the United States are women. I’m a sixth grade teacher from Utah. I depended on a strong union in my state to advocate for me as a professional, to be my collective voice. But we looked at so much more than just our professional integrity. Our union fights for equal opportunity for women, for communities of color. These were all of those who’ve been systemically advantaged due to discrimination, due to prejudice.
[00:09:03] But I will tell you that as much as these forces have tried to weaken unions and they have succeeded in many cases to put obstacles in our path you take a look at the red for ed ways that went through West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado, Arizona and North Carolina. Yes, Those are states that had a hard fight. They did not have fair share fees, but they proved it is not impossible to have a strong union that can stand up and speak out for community. They were demanding for things not just for themselves, but for their students, for better textbooks and technologies and schools that weren’t falling apart.
[00:10:00] Janus is not going to stop us. We are prepared. And I am so proud of the partners that I have on this call. Unions are uniting so that we can stand together, and what we saw is that when we stand together the public actually stands with us. The public and parents were there in West Virginia and Oklahoma and Arizona and all of those red for ed states. They support what we are fighting for. And so our job number one now is to unite not just our union members, but to unite our members with this nation, to stand up against the billionaire bullies that are trying to put an end to their rights and their freedoms. And I want to introduce one of our members, a high school teacher from Sylvania, Ohio, Dan Greenberg, to add his voice to this. Dan?
[00:11:05] Dan Greenberg, NEA: Thank you president Eskelsen Garcia. My name is Dan Greenberg, and we live in a world where the gap between the haves and the have nots grows wider every day, where it’s harder and harder to live a middle class life. The American Dream.
[00:11:13] With that in mind I think about my family, my friends, my students, my community at this challenging time in our country will ensure we have quality public education for our children, so they have a chance to have a successful future. It’s the union. My union works every day not just for educators but for the students we serve. When my district was facing a budget crisis and they were considering closing one of our preschool programs, it was the union who brought parents and teachers together to speak at a board meeting which ultimately saved that preschool. When a teacher in another district in Ohio realized the superintendent was inappropriately spending hundreds of thousands of dollars that should have been spent on children. He turned to his union to help him contact the proper authorities and protect him from being fired for doing the right thing for his district and his students. There are countless other stories like this everyday, of the union making us better. Our unions bargain for smaller class sizes, for continued training, for adequate resources for students.
[00:12:11] And especially at a time when school shootings are at the forefront of everyone’s mind, it’s the union that is advocating for more counselors more school resource officers and for policies and procedures in schools to keep our children safe. It’s the union that gives teachers support every day through contract provisions and job security that allows them to focus their energy on meeting the emotional and educational needs of students. And when children’s needs are met, they are better prepared to learn and to be successful in the future. Our public schools are the heart of our communities, and education is the pathway to a successful life. We need strong public unions at schools, and the union must continue to be a critical element and voice for our educators, our students and our community. Thank you president Eskelsen García.
[00:12:54] von Nordeck: Thank you so much Dan. Right now I’m going to turn it over to SEIU President Mary Kay Henry.
[00:13:00] Mary Kay Henry, SEIU: Thank you so much, Marianne. I’m proud to be with NEA, AFSCME AND AFT members all across this country today as we face a decision that is yet another example of how billionaires rigged the system against working people: white, black and brown. But union members across this country are united in understanding that we’re not going to let these extremists behind this case divide us. We know that they’ve fueled an attack on working people since the founding of this nation. There’s been historic structural exclusion of home and child care workers and farm workers from labor law and Social Security since the beginning of slavery in this country. And those workers are still trying to catch up because they were denied basic access to protection.
[00:13:50] We know that extremists have fueled severe anti-worker laws in places like Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, and Florida where public service workers have had their wages cut, and services to children have been reduced. And we know that the extremists fueled last year’s massive tax cut for the rich and big corporations which have escalated the cuts to public services like education, healthcare and basic child nutrition for God’s sake. But we are not going to let these extreme actions or a court case stand in our way.
[00:14:21] And we’re proud to join with AFSCME, AFT and NEA in getting our members to stick together and keep up the fight for our basic dignity and respect as human beings in this nation, and for the good union jobs that our families and communities deserve. Because we know in our bones that when working people join together in unions we have the power in numbers to not just raise wages and create good jobs, but we have the power in numbers to make our lives better for our families, friends and neighbors. Today’s ruling only makes SEIU members even more determined to stick together with their co-workers in their union to unite more workers together in unions and to turn poverty wage work into good union jobs. And by continuing to expand the ‘fight for 15’ and the union and the fight for dignity for every Muslim and immigrant in this country. And the fight for clean air and clean water and all the other things that we know we need for a fair democracy and economy.
[00:15:30] And that’s why we’re more determined than ever to join with the other unions on this phone and unions across the country to hold elected officials accountable for doing everything in their power to help more workers join together in unions, so we can create the most inclusive middle class this nation has ever seen. And we’re encouraging everyone to check out ‘#union’ today. Working people from all over the country as Lee said at the top of this call are showing their unity and determination in the face of this decision by holding up signs with a simple message: ‘Union.’ Photos and videos of people holding union signs will be posted all day on social media using the ‘#union.’ And I’m proud to introduce one of the incredible public service leaders in our union, Sara Campos. She’s directly impacted by this decision. And she leads at SEIU Local 5 0 3 in Salem, Oregon. Welcome, Sara.
[00:16:32] Sara Campos, SEIU: Thank you, Mary Kay. SEIU members like me are rising up today to say that no Supreme Court decision is going to stop us from sticking together in our union. I work at the Oregon Department of Human Services in Salem and I’m a member of SEIU Local 5 0 3. Previously at the Marion County Health Department, I worked on public health emergency preparedness planning. So I know what needs to be done to fight back in the face of adversity, being stronger together matters when we’re ensuring that our communities are resilient in the face of disasters. This attack on unions by right wing billionaires requires people like me to fight back for working people. And I’m 100 percent confident that we will not let our voices be taken away. We in fact will come out of this stronger than ever. We’re going to stick together in our unions so we have the power in numbers not only to fight for higher wages and affordable healthcare and dignified retirement, but also so that we can stand up for the people in our communities. When we are united in our union, we have power in numbers to win for everyone in the state. A few years ago, Local 5 0 3 members helped win a new state-sponsored retirement system that helps all Oregonians plan for a secure retirement after a lifetime of work. We are also committed to supporting working people who want to join together in a union but are currently prevented from doing so.
[00:17:54] There are large swaths of the country, especially in the Midwest and South, where many of the men and women who treat our sick children and care for us at the hospitals have to rely on public assistance because of low wages and their lack of benefits. Last Labor Day, I flew to Chicago with some of my fellow union brothers and sisters to march with non-union workers to demand that the American Hospital Association end the mistreatment of healthcare workers by denying them the right to form unions. Today we are rising up to call on our elected leaders to stand beside us and make it easier to join together in a union, not harder. No court case, no billionaire, and no propaganda campaign can stop us. Thank you.
[00:18:35] von Nordeck: Thank you so much, Sara. Now I’m going to hand the mic oover to AFT president Randi Weingarten.
[00:18:48] Randi Weingarten, AFT: Thank you and for all those on the call, if we sound similar it’s because we are. We have been fighting this fight together and we are seeing what Lee and Lily and Mary Kay and our members have said all across the country. So don’t count us out. While the right wing’s thirst and extremism, while the right wing’s thirst for power and their extremism trump the aspirations and needs of communities and the people who serve them today, workers are sticking with their unions because unions are the best vehicle for working people to get ahead. And while our members are sticking with us, and we’re sticking with the community, we are also sticking together. That’s who we are as people in the United States of America, whether it’s helping kids in schools or fighting for decent and affordable health care that stops them from taking away health care to people, for people with preexisting conditions.
[00:19:53] We will continue fighting, caring, showing up and voting to make possible what is impossible for individuals acting alone. Whether it’s winning parental leave in New York, new contracts for teachers in Detroit and restored funding for schools or restored minimums for graduate workers at the University of Michigan or whether it was walking out for children and for public education. As Lily just talked about in West Virginia, Oklahoma or Arizona as you can see we are not wavering from our fight. As Lee said we are more, we are doubling down on that fight. Yesterday for example we were at the border delivering books to children being held in detention camp tent cities in Texas. So at the same moment that the court is ripping away rights for workers and the Trump administration is ripping kids from their families. It is the unions of America with our allies that are helping kids because that is what our unions do. We help kids. We help communities. We help our members and frankly our members are with us. They see the union as a vehicle for a better life and as a way to stop employers and politicians from ripping them off. They know that the system is rigged against them and they want a system that supports the values we championed and they believe that unions helped make possible what would be impossible for individuals acting alone. We saw this in a membership poll that we just finished a couple of weeks ago. 72 percent said it was important that their local union is part of the national union. And in numbers I’ve never seen before, 74 percent had a positive opinion of the AFT while only 4 percent had a negative opinion.
[00:21:54] And we’re seeing that in our membership, as we are now at the largest numbers we have ever been at 1.75 million and in the state affected by Janus, about 800,000 of our members. People at our local started recommittment campaigns starting in January and February. And of those 800,000 we are well over a half a million people who have said they are sticking with the union. And finally the public is with us. You saw it during the walkouts. Public support for teachers are widespread and foundational. And a recent AP poll found that nearly two-thirds approved of teacher unions and support for unions. Unions in total is at its highest in 15 years.
[00:22:43] So we are emboldened. We will continue to make our case in the halls of statehouses and our workplaces and our communities to organizing, activism and membership recommitting. But let me just say one more thing about this case. As Justice Kagan said the majority overturned a decision that was embedded in the nation’s law and its economy. A majority has taken away the 10th Amendment right of states to do what they need to do to govern their workplaces. A majority has taken away what was a unanimous decision 40 years ago because the majority was siding with corporations and billionaires who want to defund and defang unions because they do not want workers to have a right. But workers are rising up like never before and we will continue to fight in the court of public opinion, the bargaining table and the ballot box for our values.
[00:23:43] Good public education, good jobs in support of middle class life, good health care, good affordable public higher education and fighting against bigotry and discrimination and in defense of democracy and pluralism. And one of the people who are doing that every single day is one of our members, Holly Kimpon, a high school biology and anatomy teacher from Ohio. Holly, will you talk about what sticking with the union means to you?
[00:24:06] Holly Kimpon, AFT: Sure. Thank you president Weingarten. My name is Holly Kimpon. I am a mother, a teacher, an active member of my community and a strong union member. Today’s decisions for people like me is not really about politics. For the working middle class like myself it’s about weakening our voice and our power over the few things over the few that are in charge. Those people who are making money off the backs of workers like me. Several years ago we agreed to freeze our salaries for a few years to help our district out in the face of major state funding cuts. Even though it would be a sacrifice for our own families, we agreed to it because it was what was best for our students and the community. They promised that the money would be restored once the levies passed and we fought for the levy and we won. When it came time to, when it came time for the district to bring up their end of the bargain. They didn’t come through. We banded together and fought to get back what was promised, only with the strength in numbers were able to get back what was promised and what was fair. My union not only fights for workers like me but more importantly is the voice for our students.
[00:25:23] Unions are fighting for students to have mental health services, are well fed and cared for, that their teachers are prepared and educated, and that the school is a safe and nurturing environment daily. Because we have such a responsibility to these students and our own families, we will stand united and grow even stronger in the face of this decision. Thank you.
[00:25:43] von Nordeck: Thank you so much Holly and thank you to all four of our president and members. We are now going to transition into the Q and A portion of our call. George, I will hand it over to you to administer the Q and A.
[00:25:57] Moderator: We have a question from the line of Adam Ashton with the Sacremento Bee. Please go ahead with your question.
[00:26:02] Reporter: Thanks for taking my question, and making time for us. I kind of have a practical question and that is, how soon do you expect that public agencies will end collecting fair share fees in the states where this is where this change is going to take effect?
[00:26:17] Lily Eskelsen Garcia, NEA: Well this is Lily at the NEA and the answer is immediately, immediately.
[00:26:25] Reporter: OK.
[00:26:22] Garcia: We prepared our affiliates for that.
[00:26:23] Reporter: Thank you.
[00:26:24] Moderator: Next question is from the line of Dave Jamieson with the Huffington Post. Please go ahead with your question.
[00:26:30] Reporter: Thanks everyone for doing the call. I put this question to Randi. This relates to the ‘opt-in’ portion of the ruling. The ruling made pretty clear that it can’t be a system where someone is paying fees to the union until they opt-out. They have to affirmatively opt-in. Were you expecting that to be in this decision? And how is that going to, how do you think that could affect trying to keep people paying dues?
[00:26:58] Weingarten: Well, Dave, we have always assumed that to be the case. I mean we our membership one of the reasons that people within our membership have been doing recommitment is to refresh cards that may have been signed you know years and years and years ago. And so that you know frankly we assumed that this decision would be as extreme as it was, in terms of undermining 45 years of labor peace around the states, you know around the country. And in the states that have had their share of exclusivity you see strong communities and strong services. But we know as we said earlier that their intent was to destabilize the defang and defund at the very same time as the November 18 elections were the most important in history and at the very same time as people across the country are saying stop making choices to feather the nest through tax cuts of billionaires and start actually investing in communities. So we expected that they were going to be the extremists that Alito was. And so you know that’s why when Lily just said, as quickly as she said, we were all prepared for a decision like this.
[00:28:28] Moderator: Our next question is from the line of Andrew Hanna with Politico. Please go ahead with your question.
[00:28:35] Reporter: Hi guys. This Is for anyone who wants to answer. So what’s next for you guys? Is there some kind of federal legislation or statewide legislation you’re sponsoring in response to this decision and is this going to play any role whatsoever in your efforts during the midterm elections?
[00:28:50] Saunders: This is Lee and then I think Mary Kay would like to respond to that also. I think we can separate the question and in a number of different ways. What we are doing internally is continuing to communicate and grow stronger by talking with members and non-members alike seeking their input on issues that concern them and their families and their communities. And we’re making that kind of connection, and we have a very strong connection. We actually had more than 900,000 individual conversations with members and non-members about what they want to see happen, what their interests are, what their priorities are and we’re going to continue to do that.
[00:29:32] Second thing is that we’re going to continue to organize externally. And we strongly believe that in order to have a seat at the table and to be able to have decent wages and benefits and working conditions collective bargaining is the avenue to do just that. And we’re going to continue to organize, and we’re going to continue to mobilize and we’re going to continue to educate. I know that there will be legislation that will be introduced on Capitol Hill later on this week which strengthens the collective bargaining process for public sector workers obviously we will support that. But this is, this back to basics for us and we’ve been doing this now for over three years, and it’s strengthening our union by communicating and listening to our members and continuing to organize externally.
[00:30:24] Reporter: Quick question. Who and what is the legislation?
[00:30:26] Weingarten: Can I just can I add that what we’re seeing already from .. You know, you can see from the press releases that you’ve been getting all throughout the country, mayors, governors, others are decrying this decision because they know what strong collective bargaining and strong relationships and strong unions mean in terms of safer communities and better services. And the coalition of mayors for working families announced today their support and others have done as well.
[00:31:10] Moderator: Our next question is from the line of Howard Blume with the Los Angeles Times. Please go ahead with your question.
[00:31:14] Reporter: Hi. I was wondering this is I guess for each of the major unions, what percentage of your membership are agency fee payers at the current time? And are you, is there a different strategy for them than for your membership?
[00:31:31] Garcia: Hi, this is Lily. Our agency fee payers make up about 3 percent of our NEA budget nationwide. It’s a very small percentage of our of our budget. The agency fee payers and losing them was not, it was not the push with the Koch brothers and others that are behind Janus. We will now see. And we know that there are already plans. They are going after our members. They’re going to have drop campaigns.They’re going to say, ‘Look at what you get for free. Why don’t you drop your membership and get it for free anyway?’ There will be lawsuits filed. They want to tie us up and our resources in court. And so that’s that goes back to the question that was asked before. What happens now? Good old-fashioned organizing and organizing beyond just our members, but organizing within our community partners for NEA we’re actually making investments in areas with early career educators, those new teachers coming in, letting them know what we’re doing to provide professional support for them and for providing the social justice work that we’re doing and making sure that every public school is as good as our best public school. That’s where we have to put, put our emphasis because it’s not we’re not going to be devastated by fee payers not having to pay their fee. We’re going to be devastated if we can’t reach out to members and have them see what this agenda is all about.
[00:33:24] Moderator: Our next question is from the line of Kate Ackley with CQ. Please go ahead and ask your question.
[00:33:29] Reporter: Thank you. This is good timing. Because I did want to follow up on Howard’s question and I’d like the AFSCME folks specifically to answer what percentage of their budget comes from these fee payers and if any other unions could chime in as well. I wanted to understand sort of what amount of money might be at stake.
[00:33:49] Weingarten: I really don’t know what what that percentage is. We’ve been concentrating on building the union by having conversations and discussions with members and non-members alike. And that’s what we’re going to continue to concentrate on. Clearly I mean we don’t want to B.S. anybody. I mean I think that the four unions may face some sort of loss and that would result in some kind of revenue loss. But we are all concentrating all four of us are concentrating on that very important work of communicating and talking with our members and non-members. We aren’t going anywhere; we’re going to continue to be vibrant. We’re going to continue to be aggressive. We’re going to continue to be vigilant to represent the needs not only of our members, but the needs of working families across the country. And that’s going to happen whether people like it or not, but we’re going to continue to do that.
[00:34:54] Weingarten: And so we don’t do it in terms of budget. We do it in terms of numbers, and it’s different for our different units. So the blended rate is, goes up and down between 5 percent and 8 percent depending upon where it is during the year. Because we represent many adjunct professors and other contingent workers. So it’s you know, it’s about I would say it’s a 1 point 7-5-5. Probably it ranges from 60 to 85.
[00:35:32] Reporter: You’re saying between five and eight percent of your budget?
[00:35:35] Weingarten: No it’s not, we don’t do we don’t do it budget. We do it by people because we have, and we have we have a very sliding scale based upon dues. And so we do it by people. And it’s somewhere between the 1 point 7-5-5, a million members or for a million people that we represent. It ranges between 60 to 80 staff.
[00:36:00] von Nordeck: I think this is a question we can continue to litigate over e-mail for individual responses. George, are there any more questions in the queue?
[00:36:08] Moderator: Yes we have a few more questions. Our next question is from the line of Tina Sfondeles with the Chicago Sun-Times. Please go ahead.
[00:36:17] Sfondeles: Thank you. I’m just trying to understand the workers. Will be unions still be representing workers who don’t want to be members or pay their dues? What is that role?
[00:36:25] Saunders: Yes, under exclusive representation, we still have the responsibility of representing our members and non-members alike. And we’re going to continue to push for the representation of non-members quite honestly because we want to bring all workers together, not have them separate and apart. So our goal is to concentrate on those non-members to have them join the union to make us stronger to fight the good fight around issues that our members, our working families and our communities care about across the country.
[00:37:02] Henry: Here, here I agree with Lee. And in addition to that public service workers like Sara and Dan and Stephen and Holly that spoke with us on this call understand that we can’t continue to bargain good jobs and secure our benefits in the public services sector unless we’re also organizing vigorously with fast food workers and nursing home workers and home care workers because we need to raise wages for all workers, and I think the amazing thing about our four unions and the rest of the labor movement at this moment is not only are we determined not to let this court decision stand in the way of improving our members lives. We’re determined to use our unions to improve the lives of everybody in this nation. And that means organizing more non-union workers, going to the border as Randy did yesterday in standing with immigrant advocates to object to the criminalization of immigrants in this country. That means standing with Lily in the members of NEA that are gathered in Minneapolis to fight for good public education in this country. There’s so many things that we’re doing that I would say that throughout our organizations we are renewing our commitment to the basic principles of why people believe it matters when you join together you can create change in this country.
[00:38:34] Weingarten: In some ways what these four, our four unions are doing and the union movement in total are what that little ditty used to be the unions brought you the 40-hour work week. We are doing it in a modern time, in some ways just like the first Gilded Age. We’re doing it in the second gilded age which is we are fighting for the kind of the conditions that people need to work. We’re fighting for working, for the dignity that people need. But we’re also fighting to make sure as Lee and Mary Kay just said for what our communities need, good schools good health care, good infrastructure, safety so that they feel at peace and they feel like they could have a better life. And that is what we see as our role regardless of what the right wing gets to do in this Supreme Court or in the House or the Senate.
[00:39:33] Garcia: And let let me add onto what Randy just said. This is Lily. We’ve seen, we’ve seen this red for ed wave start in West Virginia and just sweep across the country. Those were in states that have been oppressed the longest, where people in their state legislatures try to hold down unions. They rose up, and I think what a lot of folks who really didn’t understand what a union could do saw impressed them. In Arizona alone we are up over two thousand new members in Arizona and the Arizona Education Association said ‘Wow. This is the way you get voice heard. And I do want to be a part of this.’
[00:40:26] So what’s not going to change is this union is going to continue to be our collective unified voice. What we’re fighting for is not going to change and that is a strong middle class America. Free public education, a living wage, Social Security, Medicare, decent healthcare, protections against discrimination. That won’t change. And I think there are a whole lot of people paying attention now that maybe weren’t paying attention before.
[00:40:54] Moderator: Our next question is from the line of Bill Lucia with Atlantic Media. Please go ahead.
[00:40:59] Reporter: Hi. Thanks For taking my question. This is for any of the union leaders. I guess this follows up on the questions about about the financial impact of this. I’m just trying to understand I mean how severe do you anticipate that the financial impact will actually be? Are any of your unions making contingency plans? You know in terms of operating going forward with far less money or do you anticipate it will be business as usual for the foreseeable future?
[00:41:28] Saunders: Well we’re being very responsible as far as making projections and making the necessary cuts where we have to make cuts. A process that we would normally do regardless of the decision coming out or not. And that depends upon the growth of our unions. But I do want to stress this, that this one Supreme Court decision that was made today is going to make us do more. As far as being creative in talking with our partners and talking with our members and pushing the needs aggressively of working families, so that we’re going to continue to organize and with the continuation of organizing that means more resources will be coming into the union. But clearly we’re going to have to make some immediate adjustments based upon this.But we’re going to keep our eyes on that prize and that is to organize more workers in this country and to continue to talk with our members on a regular basis. So they feel a part of — a part of their union and seek those non-members to become active in their union.
[00:42:45] Reporter: Does anybody else want to weigh in on how severe they expect the financial impact of this will be to their their union?
[00:43:55] Weingarten: We are doing as we said to the countless number of reporters who have asked this question of me in the last two months. We were doing our budget right now. And so we expect it’s going to be the drop of the agency fee payers obviously and just like Lily said we are all or we’re sending out you know it’s the compliance now most to our locals. We’ve had a call with our locals already this morning to make sure they operate in good faith based upon this decision. If we actually good if president of the United States actually did that in so many other things that he has done but we are operating in good faith. And you know you you know I think that we are all assuming that there will be some drop but not the kind of draconian existential threat that the right wing attempted to do when they started this fight. We know that, the fact that they’ve had to go to court, with case after case after case, is because they know that organically people will not walk away from unions. So that’s why they are actually trying to litigate this and do their multimillion dollar defamation process right now over the course next few months.
[00:44:29] Moderator: Yes we have more questions. Our next question is from the line of Alana Abramson with Time magazine. Please go ahead.
[00:44:33] Reporter: Hi. I was wondering what you think the impact will be in terms of your political donations for the midterm elections or in 2020 based on the loss of the agency fees.
[00:44:45] Saunders: Again I’m not going to get into our budget planning details. We are making the necessary adjustments that need to be made. We’ve been doing this now for you know for a number of years. But I will say this and I want to I really want to stress this. I mean we are committed and every one of the unions on this phone are committed to external organizing to work with our members and non-members so that we will have the financial ability to continue the kind of essential programs and to meet the priorities of our members across the country. And we are committed to doing that and we will do it.
[00:45:27] Garcia: And let me throw in. This is Lily on that too. Agency fee payers don’t, their fees don’t include campaign contributions. That was part of, part of the what we think of the bogus argument of they’re being forced to make political contributions. They don’t make political contributions. Members make political contributions. So at NEA we don’t anticipate that we will be getting anything fewer because of losing our fee payers. That will not impact the money that we have for campaign contributions.
[00:46:07] Moderator: We will now proceed to our next question from Mark Walsh with Education Week. Please proceed.
[00:46:12] Reporter: Hi. So to follow up an earlier question, I know not all of you are lawyers. Some of you are, not a major legal analysis, but on page 17 of Justice Alito’s opinion, he says individual non-members could be required to pay for that service representation or could be denied union representation altogether. Just wondering if there’s any reaction to that.
[00:46:37] von Nordeck: Mark, to her earlier clarification attribution, will you take Judi Rivlin general counsel from AFSCME on background?
[00:46:44] Reporter: I suppose.
[00:46:46] von Nordeck: Is that an agreement?
[00:46:47] Reporter: It’s not very helpful when you know you’re putting people forward for reaction to a Supreme Court decision.
[00:46:54] von Nordeck: Mark, I suggest we handle this over e-mail.
[00:46:56] Reporter: OK that’s fine.
[00:46:58] von Nordeck: If this is a detailed legal analysis question.
[00:47:01] Reporter: Yeah I mean I agree this sort of is, so….
[00:47:03] Moderator: If there are no further questions at this time, I will turn the call back to the presenters for their closing remarks.
[00:47:07] von Nordeck: AFSCME has no closing remarks. Do any of the other unions on the call have any closing remarks?
[00:47:13] Henry: I just really want to appreciate the public service workers that joined each of the presidents today. Having gotten up early on the West Coast I know Sara Campos, Dan from NEA, Stephen from AFSCME and Holly from AFT. They are our heroes and heroines in this moment.
[00:47:34] von Nordeck: With that, thank you so much everyone for your time and for joining us. Have a great day.
DISCLOSURE NOTE: Some unions have ownership stakes in Sun-Times Media, including the Chicago Federation of Labor; Operating Engineers Local 150; SEIU Healthcare Illinois-Indiana and SEIU Local 1.