By MIKE LEE
AFSCME members are heeding the call to #RiseUp this week at the 43rd International Convention of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in Boston.
AFSCME, DC 37’s national union, now stands at the forefront of labor’s resistance as public workers nationwide are standing together, pushing back against anti-union forces after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME in June.
In his keynote address to the convention, AFSCME President Lee Saunders told the delegates and guests that while the legal setback in Janus presents serious challenges, the union is well prepared to overcome the onslaught.
“If they think we’re going to roll over, if they think this is going to slow us down or shut us up, if they think we’re going to let five unelected men in robes steal our freedom, they’ve got a big surprise coming. Because when the stakes are high and the pressure is on, we don’t cower and retreat, we don’t run and hide, we rise up,” Saunders said.
“The Janus decision is a roadblock, but we will maneuver around it or just run right over it,” he said.
Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren galvanized the crowd with a powerful speech reminding the delegates of the strategies used to attempt to break union power culminating in the Janus ruling.
“Janus was no accident,” Warren said. “It was designed, funded and pushed through the courts by right-wing billionaires who had three things on their minds: Kill the unions. Kill the unions. Kill the unions.”
On Tuesday, DC 37 leaders and members took to the floor speaking out in support of major initiatives such as support for a Marshall Plan to assist recovery in hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico and to reject the Trump administration’s draconian immigration policy.