Faculty power, hard-won gains under attack; CFA members speak out for public higher education

The case Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 is the latest legal threat to the power of working people, including CSU faculty. The case is part of a broader strategy by deep-pocketed political forces to undermine public services, and to erode the common good, including public higher education.

“The intent of the political forces behind this case want to stop public employee unions like ours from bargaining effectively for strong contracts, and to prevent us from advocating for strong public services,” explained CFA President Jennifer Eagan.

“Faculty power means we must all stand together now for quality, accessible public higher education and the kind of society that means so much to us as educators and as Californians,” Eagan said.

At CFA’s annual spring Kickoff last weekend, CFA chapter leaders and activists, heard a rousing presentation on the case, and on how we advance faculty power through our union and, in the process, defend a strong CSU—the People’s University.

Participants learned that a relatively small but extremely wealthy group of conservative funders, among them the notorious Koch Brothers, are promoting the Janus v. AFSCME case.

Backers of the case seek to broaden the types of restrictions on workers’ rights that have been adopted by some state legislatures. In those states, pay and benefits for working people have declined across the board, and has especially effected public education, with public services slashed. The origins of those laws are rooted in Jim Crow-era segregation, a racist system that kept working people divided and weakened, the legacy of which we still experience today.

Participants at the CFA Kickoff committed to return to our campuses and talk with faculty members to help us all understand how to defend public higher education, as well as our livelihoods for ourselves and our families.

CFA chapters are planning educational events around the Janus v. AFSCME case during the week of February 26 when the Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments. Contact your campus CFA chapter for details.

We are not alone

Meanwhile, CFA allies and affiliates are stepping up. The American Association of University Professors joined with the National Education Association in filing an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, which is scheduled to begin arguments on the case on February 26.

“The brief we filed argues that fair share fees in public-sector unions are an equitable way to distribute the costs of collective bargaining among all who benefit,” wrote AAUP’s attorneys in a message to AAUP members.

SEIU is planning events and rallies throughout the nation including California on Feb. 26 to help Californians understand that without the advocacy of public employee unions, the public services that make our state powerful and humane are at risk.

AAUP argues this notion, as well: “Evidence shows that maintaining a robust collective negotiations system advances the public’s interest in providing high quality public services. Studies included in the amicus brief clearly show that unionization in public schools and universities is linked to improved quality of education and of working relationships within educational institutions.”

Many supporters understand the need for organizations that give a true voice to working people in our country. They will join public employees at protests outside the Supreme Court on Feb 26 and at events coast to coast, including on CSU campuses, to speak out against this attack on working people.