Supreme Court Hears Janus

2-27-2018
Dennis Frazier, AFSCME Local 66 president and Council 5 Executive Board member, talks at a news conference about how unions bring secure retirements.
Dennis Frazier, AFSCME Local 66 president and Council 5 Executive Board member, talks at a news conference about how unions bring secure retirements.

As the anti-worker case Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 went before the U.S. Supreme Court Monday morning, public workers in Minnesota stood strong for our unions.

AFSCME Council 5, Education Minnesota, SEIU and MAPE pushed back against the billionaires and corporate interests behind Janus who have said they want to “defund and defang” unions. These wealthy special interests already have rigged the system in their favor, and now they’re out to stack the deck even more by limiting our freedom to speak up for ourselves, our families and our communities.

“This lawsuit is all about the fear of workers and what our collective voice can do,” said MAPE executive director Lina Jamoul. “No matter how the Supreme Court rules on this case, Minnesota unions will never stop fighting for the values all workers in our state share.”

Education Minnesota president Denise Specht pointed out the lawsuit is backed by the most powerful donors and think tanks on the American Right. She says corporate interests are spending billions to destroy unions because we advocate for a living wage that will sustain a family; paid family leave; accessible health care; affordable college; and equal pay for equal work. Unions work for workplaces that are safe and free from harassment, retirement with dignity, good schools and equal access to the ballot box.

“We don’t do these things just for our own union members,” she says. “We do them for every single family from Greater Minnesota to the suburbs to the inner cities – and that is intolerable for the corporate CEOs and their paid surrogates. That is why they hate us.

“We won’t let this lawsuit destroy the labor movement,” Specht added.

AFSCME's Dennis Frazier and SEIU's Mike Poke proudly hold up their union cards.
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Child protection worker Dennis Frazier says it’s thanks to unions that he and his wife can look forward to a dignified, secure retirement walking their dogs, spending time with family and friends, and doing volunteer work. Unions helped earn sick leave and eight-hour days.

“A union is made up of people working together for the common good so we all have the things in life that matter,” Frazier says. “Anything that has made this country more humane for working people has come about because of unions.”

Epidemiologist Dr. Jenna Bjork, Denise Specht (head of Education Minnesota), child protection worker Dennis Frazier, MAPE executive director Lina Jamoul and custodian Mike Poke speak out for workers' rights to a strong voice through their unions.
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Custodian Mike Poke, who is known as “Mentor Mike” at Wayzata Public Schools, says he has the power of SEIU behind him when it comes to pay, benefits and fighting the unfair treatment of students and families of color. He says the rich and extremist forces behind Janus aren’t working to improve life for Minnesotans — they want even more for themselves.

Epidemiologist and MAPE member Jenna Bjork thanks unions for paid parental leave for state workers. She was in the hospital with her newborn when she heard paid leave had passed. She was grateful she no longer had to worry about taking unpaid leave so she and her family could focus on bonding with their newborn.

“This is what unions are for, to make life better for everyone,” Bjork said.