The Chicago Teachers Union thinks the recent SCOTUS ruling against forced union fees is racist, and Vice President Jesse Sharkey vowed to “Re-Card and Resist” school employees who want to ditch the CTU.
“Our movement is not going away. We’re going to continue to advocate for what’s just,” Shockey told reporters before a Board of Education meeting Wednesday, according to the Chicago Tribune. “The Supreme Court, the Supreme Court be damned.”
The CTU launched a “Re-Card and Resist” campaign in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, which essentially freed public employees from forced “fair share” or “agency” fees imposed by union contracts. The campaign aims to track down the 301 Chicago Public Schools staffers who haven’t signed union cards and convince them to comply. With annual union dues at about $1,000 a year, the CTU stands to lose just over $300,000 if they decide to abort.
Inside Higher Ed points out:
The decision … doesn’t mean the end of unions at public institutions, since some faculty and other employee unions are thriving in right-to-work states that ban such fees. But it means that unions in all states will have to work harder to convince workers to become and stay members — and pay the regular fees that support administrative staff and other activities. Agency fees are distinct from full dues and may not be used to fund unions’ explicitly political activity, but they make up a major share of union fees.
Critics have long questioned whether unions actually adhere to the law.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has promised state employees will be “given an opportunity to modify their union status” in the wake of the Janus decision, the Tribune reports.
Regardless, Sharkey alleges that allowing workers to freely choose whether or not they want to support a union is racist, and an “attack on public-sector unions across the whole country.”
“It is very hard to see this decision as anything other than an attack on black people, on brown people, on working-class people in the city of Chicago,” he said. “That’s what’s going on with this decision. …. None of the people who are … here today are going to take that lightly, are going to take that lying down.”
The end of compulsory union dues in several states over the last decade – from Wisconsin’s Act 10 to Michigan’s right-to-work laws – has decimated union budgets and greatly diminished union political clout in recent years. Some labor experts suggest Janus will have a similar impact nationwide.
But Sharkey insists the CTU doesn’t care about the money – “it’s about unifying those people who do the work in our public schools” against a co-conspiracy between the “right-wing” and the Democrats running Chicago.
“Today we will see neoliberal Democratic Party political bosses like Rahm Emanuel shaking their fist at this decision, acting as if they have not been bipartisan partners in the erosion of workers’ rights, co-conspirators in the austerity movement and willing allies in the theft of job and retirement security,” Sharkey said in a statement published by the Chicago Sun-Times.
“While today’s attack will hit all working families hard, in Chicago it will disproportionately hurt Black and Latinx households already reeling from the foreclosure crisis, cuts to social services, school closures, unrelenting violence and high unemployment. Rahm has done nothing to address the needs of these constituencies or these critical issues – or at least, nothing good.”