President Joseph A. Colangelo
As I sit to write my message this month, we are just one week away from Election Day and the vote on Con Con. By the time you read this, however, it will be old news.
I do want to thank all our members who helped spread the word about Con Con. As always is the case with communication, it takes everyone being involved to stay ahead of the game. We live in a fast-paced world with news that literally travels at the speed of light. With just one click of a button, millions get an update via some form of social media.
Our union started entering the social media world with our website almost eight years ago. It’s become the go-to place for members to download benefit forms, read about updates and news, check on the calendar of events, and locate officer and Shop Steward contact information. Then came Facebook. While initially hesitant to enter this realm, it has proven to be one of our most effective means of communication. Combined with our membership meetings, officer visits to shops, email blasts, and our newsletter, we can honestly say we are doing everything we can to keep members up-to-date and informed in this new age of technology.
Lately we have entered in the world of Twitter. The Con Con campaign was a great way to force ourselves to do even more than we have in the past. We utilized our social media accounts to constantly post and tweet about the dangers of a Constitutional Convention, reminding members to vote no, and linking with other unions fighting the same battle. We saw an increase in membership engagement, which has been great. You have liked our posts, commented, shared, and retweeted — all of which went a long way in spreading the word.
Not only is social media a great way to promote what’s going on within the union to the membership, but also a way for us to let others know the work we are doing and the success we have achieved. I hope that this momentum continues and that more of you who have social media will like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. Keep liking. Keep commenting. And by all means, keep sharing and retweeting. It’s how others are going to stay tuned in to Local 246.
We have also been collecting email addresses of members as another means of disseminating information in a very timely manner. As we move closer to 2018, it is something we would like to utilize even more, as it’s a fast and an inexpensive way of letting you all know about meetings, events, rallies, and important information that needs your attention. If you haven’t already provided us your email, please do so by sending your contact information to email@example.com
Social media is here to stay. We saw with the Con Con battle that it is an effective method of engagement. It helped labor spread the word about Con Con. But this Constitutional Convention battle will be far from labor’s last.
In fact, the Supreme Court case of Janus vs. AFSCME is right on its heels. It’s another fight for labor, and one that is definitely an uphill battle. The case is yet another attempt to crush the labor movement using the argument of free speech, and is one of 11 cases the justices added to the court’s docket from the roughly 2,000 petitions seeking review.
In the Janus case, the court will consider whether public-sector unions may require workers who are not members to help pay for collective bargaining. The consensus is the Supreme Court will strike down the 40-year precedent that requires free riders to pay what’s called Agency Shop Fee to cover the cost of bargaining union contracts and grievance proceedings, along with many other functions the unions provide that are not political. If in fact the court’s answer is no, unions could stand to lose a substantial source of revenue, thereby curtailing the services we can provide to the general membership.
The same question was before the justices last year in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. The Supreme Court seemed likely to rule against the unions when the case was argued in January 2016. But the death of Justice Antonin Scalia the next month resulted in a 4-to-4 deadlock. While this did give labor a brief reprieve, Justice Scalia’s replacement, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, has voted consistently with the court’s more conservative members and is likely to supply a fifth vote against organized labor.
Local 246, in addition to the rest of organized labor across the country, will again turn to social media as a means of explaining the Janus case, what it means for labor, and how we can deal with the expected outcome.
The goal of the anti-union forces has been the same since unions were formed due to our success in gaining more protections for workers, such as decent wages and benefits. The movement against unions has been successful in decimating membership in the private sector, so it was only a matter of time before they got to the public sector unions as well.
Our union has been protecting and providing benefits to our members for 65 years. Several years ago, we ran a story on one of our retired members, Pasquale Tannariello, who even came to a membership meeting — and he was 100 years old. I bring this up in order to point out that at 100 years old, he was still receiving medical, prescription, dental, and optical coverage from Local 246. This is something our future retirees might not be entitled to if the Janus case is successful and unions lose membership and the dues that come along with that.
This country, and our jobs, would be significantly different without unions. Not only are we able to provide you with benefits long into your retirement years, but we are the ones fighting your battles on the job as active members. So when people ask why they should continue to support their union, the answer is fairly simple. It’s time for more members to get involved. Come to meetings. Participate in the parades we march in. Attend events. And if nothing else, join us on social media.
As a final note, I want to extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of those killed in the recent senseless terrorist attack on the Westside Highway bicycle path. It was tragic and another reason why, as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, we remain thankful for what we have and the opportunities we are given. Also, please remember to keep in mind those serving overseas fighting to stop terrorism and allowing us to continue enjoying the freedom we have. I hope you all enjoy the time you will spend with family and friends. See you at the November General Membership meeting.