Janus case energizes workers’ commitment to their union

7-13-2018
Pharmacy techs Steven Keu and Sarah Lamb recommitted to AFSCME after Janus.  "I don’t want to turn into a right-to-work state like Wisconsin," Lamb says. "They don’t have any bargaining chips anymore."
Pharmacy techs Steven Keu and Sarah Lamb recommitted to AFSCME after Janus. "I don’t want to turn into a right-to-work state like Wisconsin," Lamb says. "They don’t have any bargaining chips anymore."

After the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus decision hit, Steven Keu and Sarah Lamb decided to renew their commitment to their union.

The pharmacy techs at the Minneapolis Veterans Home signed new union cards Wednesday. They were among dozens of fellow workers enjoying the AFSCME Local 744 Vets Home picnic. During the picnic, 16 workers moved from being fair share to full members, 16 recommitted to their union and a dozen joined PEOPLE.

“I never worked anywhere where there was a union before,” Keu says. “I just never had the opportunity to do it. I heard the union advocates for us. That’s why I (initially) signed up.”

Renewing that commitment Wednesday was especially important to him because he saw his union help a coworker and stand behind that person.

“I got to see it firsthand,” Keu says. “They’re real advocates for you. They’ll tell you what your rights are. No one tells you that when there’s no union. There’s no one behind you.”

His coworker Sarah Lamb, who grew up in a union household, signed a new card Wednesday in response to Janus.

“It seems like it’s the beginning of the disappearing of unions,” she says. “I don’t think a lot of people understand a lot of the things unions do. I don’t want to turn into a right-to-work state like Wisconsin. They don’t have any bargaining chips anymore.”

Lamb says she’s worked at the Minneapolis Vets Home for several years, and has been union that whole time.

“I’ve seen the hard work the union does, all the emails, being able to protect our wages, our insurance, all of that,” she says. “To have an advocate out there looking out for those things is very important.”

Lamb says in her department, having a union also means low turnover.

“I think people have more stability, with benefits and all of those other things that are included in contracts, they’re kind of chips to keep people happy in their jobs,” she says. “I know it’s a big thing that’s kept me in this job. There are so many other pharmacies you can move to. The benefits definitely keep me where I am.”

So does getting to help care for our veterans, Lamb says.

“I like our mission, that we are here as a support for the nation’s veterans. They can rest easy knowing they’ll be taken care of later on.”