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Organizing Is the Key to Public Sector Unions' Survival


Organizing Is the Key to Public Sector Unions' Survival

Samantha Winslow

When news broke that the Supreme Court would hear Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, headlines instantly projected the worst, calling it “The Supreme Court Case That Could Decimate American Public Sector Unionism,” “An Existential Threat,” and even “The End of Public-Employee Unions?”

Hyperbole aside, a decision that makes the whole public sector “right to work” could be devastating. But it won’t make unions powerless.


Another important thing needed to save public sector unions is to stamp out all the corruption and any appearance of corruption that does exist. I was a shop steward for AFGE local 644 until a couple weeks ago. The local president (Sigmund) who won an election following a physical fight with a rival president (he pressed assault charges and went on and on about it on the stewards e-mail list. I’m sure every enemy of unions has access to this e-mail list). So he has now proposed having the annual shop-stewards training - which is paid-for by the government - at a resort hotel in Dewey Beach, Delaware at the peak of summer vacation season. The agency’s (Dept of Labor) personnel representative stated that that this gives the appearance of extravagance and impropriety and the agency would not approve it. They suggested having the trainings at a hotel in the Philly area (where the greatest concentration of the local membership is - and provided a list of “socially responsible” (presumably meaning union) hotels. Well Sigmund went into “full indignant” mode and filed a grievance.

I decided to check out this proposed beach hotel (Hyatt House Dewey Beach). Not only does its location look bad for the union (even should it actually be a low-cost), but it is a non-union hotel, and run by a union-hostile franchisee in a union hostile state! I never imagined that any union would ever even consider using a non-union shop! I stated my strong objections to having this training at a non-union hotel on the steward e-mail list.

I am no longer a shop steward.

So the #1 problem that we need to address is that some public-sector union leaders really are the walking-talking Jimmy Hoffa caricatures that the right-wing trots out. They have GOT to go.

Solidarity (with the rank-and-file, not the union bosses) always!


Good post, Yunzer, and I’m also organized labor with Teamsters Local 120. Solidarity always! Best wishes.