Working People Call on Supreme Court to Protect Right to Negotiate Together to Sustain their Families and Communities

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Diverse Group Gathers at Court as Justices Hear Oral Arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

Washington, D.C. – January 11, 2016 – Today, a diverse group of working people from across the country gathered at the U.S. Supreme Court to voice support for the rights of working people to join together to make their voices heard in the workplace as oral arguments were heard in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. The case could threaten the ability of working people – like teachers, nurses, social workers and firefighters – to negotiate together for better wages and benefits that can sustain their family.

Here is what these working people had to say about how their unions benefit their lives and community, and what’s at stake in this case:

“I am a proud union member for many reasons but primarily because of what belonging to a union allows me to do for my kids. The Friedrichs case threatens to do away with my colleagues’ and my ability to stand up for our students and come up with ways to improve their learning conditions.”

  • Reagan Duncan, California Teachers Association (CTA) member and kindergarten and first grade teacher at Maryland Elementary School from Vista, California

“I am deeply concerned that this Supreme Court case threatens the ability of the skilled and dedicated people I work with to have a say about their futures and stand together for better wages and benefits that can sustain their families. It’s hard enough for ordinary people to get by, let alone get ahead, and this case would only make that worse.”

  • Dovard Howard, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) member and Certified Control Systems Technician from California

“The special interests behind this Supreme Court case are putting the kids I serve in danger. Our unions must be protected so we can protect the most vulnerable.”

  • Peter MacKinnon, a Service Employees International Union (SEIU) member and social worker from Massachusetts

“When this court case threatens our ability to best serve our students, it threatens the future of our nation. I hope the Supreme Court will see the value in public unions so my fellow teachers and I can continue to have the resources to prepare our students to be successful.”

  • Jennifer Bado-Aleman, a National Education Association (NEA) and Maryland State Education Association member and teacher at Gaithersburg High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland

“Parents everywhere want their children’s teachers to be focused on the job at hand: educating their students. By allowing the union to focus on negotiations, teachers can focus on what we love to do – teaching.”

  • Pankaj Sharma, an American Federation of Teachers (AFT) member and high school teacher from Illinois

 “The case puts at risk working peoples’ ability to come together and work towards a better future. I’m proud and excited to travel to Washington, D.C. to make sure the justices hear how this case could impact families like mine.”

  • Kevin Burgos, from the National Organizing Committee with the Fight for $15 and Assistant Manager at Dunkin Donuts in Hartford, Connecticut

“This case means a lot to me as both an educator and a union member, because I want working people everywhere to have the same opportunity I’ve enjoyed; to improve their communities through fulfilling, rewarding public service jobs.”

  • Lacy Barnes, California Federation of Teachers (CFT) member and college instructor from California

“Our union is dedicated to making higher education sustainable for the 15,000 adjunct professors who teach in Philadelphia-area colleges. That security should not be threatened by big money special interests and corporate CEOs who have no business in politics or on campuses.”

  • Ryan Eckes, an American Federation of Teachers (AFT) member and adjunct professor at Temple University in Pennsylvania

“Our union allows my colleagues and me to work together for the improvements at our jobs that protect children in dangerous situations. It would be shameful to see the Supreme Court decide the case in favor of wealthy special interests and put the important services we provide to children and families at risk.”

  • Stephen Mittons, an American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) member and child protective investigator from Illinois

“As a union member, I know I have a voice and that by negotiating together, we are ensuring quality public schools in Hayward. I worry that with a wrong decision in the Friedrichs case, I would not be able to advocate for my students and it would be harder for me to help students and their families get the information and education resources they need to succeed.”

  • Maya Walker, a California Teachers Association (CTA) member and Library Technician, Hayward High School in Hayward, California