Tag Archives: Collective bargaining

a message from Ben Betz, People For the American Way

This is outrageous. A corporate-backed right-wing group fighting to dismantle workers’ rights in Ohio hijacked the words and image of a great-grandmother who had filmed an ad for our allies, distorting her message and making it look like she supported their position against workers.

Cincinnati resident Marlene Quinn had filmed a TV ad for our friends at the “No on Issue 2” campaign — the campaign to repeal Senate Bill 5, Ohio’s version of the Wisconsin bill that stripped public workers of their collective bargaining rights. In the ad, she told the story of her grandson and great-granddaughter’s rescue by firefighters, and rightly made the case that passage of Issue 2 on the ballot this November, affirming SB 5, would lead to less firefighters there to protect Ohioans.

In a shockingly underhanded move, a leading right-wing group in the fight, Building a Better Ohio, stole the footage of Marlene for its own ad, and presented it in a way that made it look like Marlene was for Issue 2!

Ten Ohio TV stations have already pulled the ad and we’re going to keep the pressure on the rest until do too. Help us by joining our petition to Ohio TV stations now.


In an email for our allies at the No on 2 campaign, Marlene said of the Right’s ad:

“It’s insulting to the brave firefighters who saved the life of my great-granddaughter. I’m outraged they are using my face and my words to push their harmful agenda. They certainly did not ask my permission. I feel violated.”

Watch a side-by-side video comparison of the two ads and sign our petition now.

We hope you’ll speak out against the Right’s latest dirty tactic, and then engage others to do the same.

Thank you for all your support and activism to fight the Right’s dirty tricks.

— Ben Betz, Online Strategy Manager


We Are One: Attend a Local Event

Are you worried, frustrated, and angry about the continuing attacks on workers’ rights, women’s rights, economic security and opportunity for all? Are you looking for another way to demonstrate your concern — in addition to making phone calls and sending emails? On April 4, you can join with people in your community in events to send a strong message: We Are One.

On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, where he had gone to stand with sanitation workers demanding their dream: the right to bargain collectively for a voice at work and a better life for themselves and their children. Now those rights are under attack in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and dozens of other states, and women’s interests are at stake.

Can you join us on April 4 by participating in an event on your community? You can find events near you on this interactive map.  http://action.nwlc.org/site/R?i=uMLiBmcwTSFoVeogJPQeMg..

Attacks on public employees’ rights to collectively bargain directly threaten working women and the vital public services they provide. Most people who work for state and local governments are women: nurses, teachers and others serving our communities. And collective bargaining helps ensure that these women have decent wages, benefits, and working conditions. For more information on why the right to collectively bargain is a women’s rights issue, check out our fact sheet.

Please join us in solidarity on April 4: We Are One.


Emily J. Martin

Vice President and General Counsel

National Women’s Law Center


Featured Action

A Day To Stand In Solidarity – April 4 Nationwide Actions

On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. He had gone there to stand with AFSCME sanitation workers demanding their dream: The right to bargain collectively for a voice at work and a better life. Join us to make April 4, 2011 a day to stand in solidarity with working people in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and dozens of other states where right-wing corporate politicians are trying to take away the rights Dr. King gave his life for. It’s a day to say, “We are one.” Check out our We Are One video and go to http://www.we-r-1.org for more details.


Standing Up For Public Service

Public service workers from coast to coast are facing attacks against their jobs, their salaries, their pensions and their basic rights as workers. View our Standing Up For Public Service website to find out how AFSCME members are fighting back.

Wisconsin: photos, videos, and recent news

Ohio: photos, videos, and recent news

Indiana: photos and news

Michigan, Florida, New York and across the nation: photos, videos, events, our blog, and news clips

Greenline, the AFSCME Blog

Iowa House Leadership Afraid to Talk to Citizens

In a show of solidarity with Iowa working families, former Speaker Pat Murphy (D-Dubuque) blasted Iowa’s Republican House Leadership Friday after they shut down the Capitol switchboard.

In Ohio, State of the Worker Address

Workers across Ohio delivered the State of the Worker Address, a rebuttal to Gov. John Kasich’s first State of the State Address.

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire’s 100-Year Anniversary Reminds Us Why Unions Are Necessary

AFSCME reflects on another historic moment in labor history, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York City.

Thousands Turn Out For “We Are Indiana” Rally Supporting Unions

Legislation that could roll back private-sector union rights and limit collective bargaining rights for teachers sparked a massive rally at the state Capitol in Indianapolis.

Origins of the So-Called Pension Crisis

Noted economist Dean Baker has written what could be best described as the definitive explanation of the state of public-sector pension plans.

AFSCME Across the Nation

AFSCME Activists Nationwide Support Wisconsin Public Service Workers

OH: Workers Protest Plan to End Collective Bargaining

NY: In this New Video, AFSCME Members Speak Out for a “Better New York for All”

WI: AFSCME Members Lobby Lawmakers to Preserve Rights


McEntee: Governor Walker Is “Tearing Wisconsin Apart”

Statement of AFSCME President McEntee in response to Gov. Walker’s anti-union rights bill that was rammed through the state senate.

AFSCME Calls on Speaker Boehner to Stop Using Violent Metaphors and Demonizing Public Employees

Citing a recent interview given by House Speaker John Boehner, AFSCME Pres. McEntee called on the Speaker to stop using violent metaphors and demonizing public employees.


For Black folks, collective bargaining means equality in the workplace.

Now, this basic right is under attack in Wisconsin — and across the country.

Support the workers who are fighting back.

There was once a time in this country when Black folks would work 12-hour days for less money than their White co-workers who worked only eight. The key to leveling the playing field for Black workers was collective bargaining — and now Republicans around the country are attacking this basic right.

The right of workers to negotiate as a group for better wages, benefits and working conditions has been important for everyone, but it’s been especially meaningful for Black Americans. Before we could collectively bargain, we had little control over our working conditions and no protection from racial discrimination in the workplace.

That’s why it’s critical that we stand with the workers in Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey, and everywhere else collective bargaining is coming under attack. Please join us in sending a message of support to all those fighting this battle on the front lines. It takes only a moment:


In Memphis in 1968, Black sanitation workers worked in dangerous, inhumane conditions under abusive White supervisors for little pay. After two workers were crushed to death by a malfunctioning city garbage truck, the city’s Black sanitation workers sought to unionize. They demanded better wages, safer working conditions, and the right to collectively bargain for these things. They took to the streets of Memphis bearing signs that read, “I am a man.” During the strike, police attacked and jailed Black workers for peaceful protest. Months later, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said that “all labor has dignity,” joined these workers on the front lines. He was assassinated while leading the effort to win collective bargaining rights for these workers.1

Collective bargaining has helped Black workers vulnerable to workplace discrimination win needed on-the-job protections. “Black workers have an interest in unions as all workers do, because they give them power in the labor market to improve working conditions, and allow them due process and fairness on the job,” says labor scholar Stephen Pitts. “Any sort of institution that allows due process procedures and reduces arbitrary behavior in decision making is positive for black folks.”2

More than just protection from discrimination, collective bargaining has won Black workers fairness in pay and advancement, access to health insurance and retirement savings, and basic worker safety protections.3 This is especially true for Black public-sector workers. Twenty-five percent of all Black college graduates work in the public sector, and government work is second only to health and education services in concentration of Black workers.4 As scholar Michael Honey points out, “The one toe-hold many black and minority workers (and especially women among them) still have in the economy is in unionized public employment.5

Now, Republicans in state legislatures around the country are attacking public employees’ collective bargaining rights. The battle began in Wisconsin, when Republican Governor Scott Walker offered a bill that would strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights. In response, thousands of regular people filled the state capitol in protest — with many camping out there for days or even weeks. To stop the bill and force Republicans to negotiate, 14 Democratic state senators left Wisconsin, (preventing Republicans from voting on the bill). Despite the overwhelming public opposition to the bill, Republicans were eventually able to pass the law using procedural tricks late last week.6 But the protesters in Wisconsin drew the world’s attention to this fight, and exposed the attack on collective bargaining rights as hugely unpopular and politically motivated. And right now they’re working to hold Republicans accountable in powerful ways.

Wisconsin is one of many states where collective bargaining is under attack. Republicans in Ohio just passed a law similar to Wisconsin’s, and states from Indiana to New jersey are prepared to follow suit.

Republicans say that their effort to roll back collective bargaining rights is necessary to curb spending in times of economic hardship, but that just doesn’t square with the facts. In no state are public employees’ salaries or pension benefits a major cause of their current financial problems.7 The Republican efforts are part of a strategy to attack public employees’ unions, which overwhelmingly give money to Democratic interests. Without the strength of the unions, many expect that President Obama and other Democrats will have a tougher time raising funds for the 2012 election.8

DePaul University law professor Terry Smith says that, “Dismantling bargaining rights will disproportionately affect African Americans.”9 This right has played a vitally important role in Black Americans’ move into the middle class. For Republicans, the economic well-being of Black folks (and all workers) is only collateral damage in a political battle. It’s shameful.

That’s why it’s important that we stand with the brave workers around the country fighting to preserve the right to collectively bargain in their states. They’re on the front lines, and your message of support will help them keep going even as circumstances get tougher. Please join us in telling these workers that you stand with them, and then ask your friends and family to do the same.


Thanks and Peace,

— James, Gabriel, William, Dani, Matt, Natasha and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team

March 15th, 2011

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1. “How Unions Helped Bring Economic Justice to Black Workers,” AlterNet, 2-25-2011


2. See Reference 1

3. “Gutting Unions Hurts the Black Middle Class,” The Root, 3-11-2011


4. “Black Workers Central to National Union Battle,” ColorLines, 3-1-2011


5. “It’s 1968 All Over Again and King’s Fight for Unions Is Still Essential,”


6. “Wisconsin Union Law to Take Effect on March 26,” Wall Street Journal, 3-14-2011


7.“Unions aren’t to blame for Wisconsin’s budget,” The Washington Post, 2-18-2011


8. “WI Senate GOP Leader Admits On-Air That His Goal Is To Defund Labor Unions, Hurt Obama’s Reelection Chances,” Think Progress, 3-9-2011


9. See Reference 3