I wanted to alert you to an important update around Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 and keep you abreast of all of the activity going on around it.
First, it now appears that oral arguments in Janus likely will occur in late February, rather than January. The partner unions have begun planning a nationwide day of action around oral arguments, and we will be soliciting your input and ideas for it in the coming weeks.
Second, I want to highlight the significant work that is being done by AFSCME and the partner unions around Janus to frame the case and make sure our members and the public understand what’s at stake.
- In addition to my travels around the country meeting with AFSCME members, I have been briefing and requesting assistance from key groups and constituencies. From the Senate and House Democratic leadership and caucuses to the Congressional Black Caucus and the Progressive Caucus, from key attorneys general to municipal officials, from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights to economic justice groups like the National Employment Law Project, AFSCME and our allies have been sounding the alarm about what Janus could mean for working people, local employer-employee relationships and the public health and safety of entire communities.
Our friends and allies are on message and ready to help. In fact, I have been impressed by the level of message discipline. We have shared the attached toolkit before, but I think it’s worth resending. I urge you share it with your local leaders so everyone understands that Janus will rig the rules even more against working people and take away their freedom to be part of strong unions that can negotiate fair contracts. Also, please urge them to take action by sharing information on social media and writing letters to the editor.
- We are also making significant progress on an impressive array of legal briefs which will be filed with the Supreme Court. From city, state and hospital employers to civil rights leaders to First Amendment experts, I have no doubt that if the Court makes its decision on the merits, we will win. Thank you to those of you who have helped secure signers for these briefs. We will continue to reach out to you with similar requests over the coming weeks.
Also in the coming days, AFSCME’s counsel, David Frederick, will meet with Council 31 to learn more about what our members do and the services they provide. The right wing groups behind the case will file a brief on November 29 on behalf of Mark Janus, the plaintiff who is a non-member represented by Council 31. AFSCME will file our responding brief on January 12, 2018. Briefs supporting us will be due one week later, on January 19, 2018.
- In coordination with AFT, NEA and SEIU, we are planning a press briefing for early December to make sure reporters understand the case and its implications. We are also creating additional materials to help you explain the case to members, understand what needs to happen at the local level between now and decision day, assist you with local press outreach, and help you make asks of policymakers in advance of a decision. We encourage you to take action in all of these areas between now and June.
- Finally, we have developed and released several toolkits and a report called Strong Unions, Strong Communities, which helped bolster activity on Capitol Hill last week. On November 1, several U.S. senators held a press conference to unveil new policy proposals to bolster working people as part of their Better Deal agenda, and then took to the Senate floor later that day to voice their support for working people and unveil the truth about who is behind Janus.
AFSCME’s coverage of the day is here, and I encourage you to share it with your leaders and on social media: https://www.afscme.org/now/many-in-congress-speak-up-for-working-families
There is much work to be done, and I will continue to keep you updated on key developments and new materials.
Lee A. Saunders, President, AFSCME