America Works Together Coalition Launched to Protect Rights of People to Join Together and Advocate for Pay that Can Sustain Families, Stronger Communities in Landmark Case Before the U.S. Supreme Court

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Broad Coalition of Groups Assembled to Protect the Rights of People who Work in Public Service to Negotiate Together

 Washington, D.C. – September 22, 2015 – Today, a wide array of groups launched America Works Together, a new coalition to protect the rights of public service workers to negotiate together. These longstanding rights are under renewed attack from wealthy special interests in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a marquee case that will be heard this term by the U.S. Supreme Court. This case, which deals with the rights of people who work in public service like teachers, firefighters, nurses, and social workers, threatens to make it even harder for people to come together, speak up, and get ahead.

“America’s economy has swung out of balance. It’s getting harder to get by, let alone get ahead,” said Dovard Howard, a certified control systems technician at the Metropolitan Water District Henry J. Mills Treatment Plant in Riverside, California. “Almost no one stands up for average Americans these days, and now this Supreme Court case threatens to make it even worse. Everyone who works should be able to make ends meet, have a say about their futures, and have the right to negotiate together for better wages and benefits that can sustain their family.”

America Works Together consists of a growing list of over 20 civil rights, faith, health, labor, legal, LGBT, progressive, and women’s organizations, as well as leading public service unions, including the National Education Association (NEA), American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and California Teachers Association (CTA). A full list of the coalition members can be found at AmericaWorksTogether.us, which also features more information about what’s at stake for our country and millions of families who work and still struggle to live a good life.

“We all benefit when working people are able to negotiate together for better wages and benefits and fight for things like smaller class sizes, better learning environments for our students, quicker emergency response times and better staffing at hospitals. These are benefits that impact everyone in our community. We need to ensure that the rights of working people to come together in a union remain strong so that our nation remains strong,” said Peter Grebner, a secondary school teacher in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The Center for Individual Rights and other ideologically-driven groups financed by wealthy special interests and corporate CEOs are asking the Supreme Court to upend nearly four decades of precedent in order to hinder the rights of public service workers to negotiate together. This would represent a radical reinterpretation of our Constitution and the First Amendment.

“I’m proud to be part of this effort to protect the voices of working people and ensure we can continue joining together. I’ve been a teacher for 21 years and I’ve seen all we’ve been able to do together to improve our public schools, our profession and our communities. We are all stronger together,” said Lysa Sassman, a second grade teacher in Auburn, California.

A Gallup poll released last month showed that Americans’ support for labor unions continues to climb and stands at 58 percent. A new study by released last week by researchers at Harvard and Wellesley Universities and the Center for American Progress highlights the benefits that increased union membership confers on communities. This builds on other research underscoring the connection between increased union membership, economic mobility, and a more balanced economy that allows working to sustain their families.

“For 13 years I’ve woken up every single day focused on keeping children safe. It’s disheartening to think the Supreme Court could make it hard for us to advocate for the children we protect and the families we serve. Our work is far too important,” said Robert Bullock, a child protection worker in Massachusetts.

Oral arguments in Friedrichs v. CTA have not yet been scheduled, but the case is expected to be argued in December 2015 or January 2016.

 

About America Works Together

America Works Together is a coalition of working people and their allies – more members are always welcome. For more information, contact info@americaworkstogether.us.