more per month for their health insurance.
Wisconsin state employees across all job classifications now pay roughly
"It's important to protect our union members from invasion of their privacy and from harassment from anti-union groups."
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"My Pay, My Say" features a number of misleading or false statements aimed at confusing you. We decided to annotate and correct their lies.
"My pay, my say" FACT CHECK
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SPN AFFILIATES IN EACH STATE
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the union difference
of Those Not in a Union
Have a Retirement Plan compared to
More than Non-Union Members
Union Members Earn
The False slogan: Racist roots of right to work
Above: Marchers during the Workers Day of Action demonstration in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 24, 2018. (AFSCME)
Above: Ralliers in front of the Supreme Court ahead of the Janus v. AFSCME opening arguments on Feb. 28, 2018. (AFSCME)
After Gov. Scott Walker signed Act 10 into law in 2011, Wisconsin state employees across all job classifications now pay roughly $400 more per month for their health insurance. At the same time, compensation for public school teachers in the state has declined by 8.6 percent since collective bargaining was all but ended, according to a 2017 report by the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Sometime before the end of June, the Supreme Court will hand down its decision in the Janus case, which anti-union forces are expecting to go their way. If that happens, virtually every AFSCME member will feel the reach of SPN, as its affiliate groups seek to peel off union members to weaken the bargaining strength of the union, and tip the scales of our economy and democracy even further in favor of those with power and wealth.
“We need to stand together so that we will have strength together. When we are under attack by a predator, we need to be in a pack, together,” said Taloa of Local 3930.
Put another way, working people only have power in numbers. The more people stick with our union, the more power we have to negotiate good pay, benefits and working conditions. If people quit, that power goes away. United we bargain, divided we beg. It’s that simple.
Data from the Center for American Progress
Average benefits paid to Wisconsin teachers in 2016 dollars, by year
Wisconsin teachers' benefits fell dramatically after Act 10 (in 2011)
Please note these figures are approximations.
*Each year represents the last year in a given school year. For example, 2011 represents the 2010-2011 school year, the final school year before Act 10.
Note: Due to "All Staff" file data errors, this graph excludes teachers in Kenosha and Milwaukee County.
THE EFFECTs of collective bargaining
The Empire Center, SPN’s New York State affiliate, lists “control public employee compensation” as an item on its “Checklist for Change.”
SPN’s plan is to weaken your bargaining power — and your right to due process in the workplace — by thinning your union’s membership rolls. SPN will tell you that if you leave the union, you’ll be giving yourself a raise when, actually, you’ll be hurting your chances for getting one in your next contract.
What the spinmeisters from SPN groups won’t tell you is how dropping your union membership threatens the pay and benefits your family depends on.
Ultimately, SPN donors want to take our country back to the days when public service workers earned low wages with few benefits, their career prospects subject to the political whims of whichever party held power. That’s what public service workers faced before gaining the freedom to negotiate together for fair wages, benefits and protections from unfair treatment by bosses and people in power. The end goal of SPN and its funders is to virtually eliminate collective bargaining, as they and their allies did in Wisconsin with Act 10.
The Liberty Justice Center, which represented Mark Janus (above), is an SPN affiliate, as is its parent organization, the Illinois Policy Institute. To argue the case, the Liberty Justice Center teamed up with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund, an SPN associate organization.
SPN funnels hundreds of millions of dollars into a broad assault on working people. It spreads misinformation to workers on the ground and online. Its affiliate groups back state and local measures designed to curtail workers’ rights. They also block worker- and community-friendly policies such as paid sick leave and minimum wage increases and promote dangerous ideas like outsourcing and privatization. They aggressively push their agenda through the courts. The latest example of that agenda is the Janus v. AFSCME case.
On its face, at stake in the Janus case is the right of unions to charge fair-share fees to cover the cost of representing nonmembers in bargaining and due-process representation, which the union must do under the law. But what the Janus case is really about is the freedom to join together in strong unions and build strength through numbers — a freedom that the billionaires and corporate CEOs behind the case have been trying to smash for more than 40 years. The State Policy Network was built to do just that.
Soon, you may hear from representatives of these groups who will try to trick you into giving up your rights and hurting your pay and benefits by dropping your union membership.
SPN affiliates and their allies use a variety of aggressive and deceptive tactics to swindle public service workers out of union-negotiated protections and the pay and benefits their families depend on. They may send mail, call you, come to your home, or turn up, unannounced, at your workplace. Affiliate names include Freedom Foundation and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, among others. A $10 million online disinformation campaign aimed at public service workers — called “My Pay, My Say” — was recently launched by the Mackinac Center.
There’s no way an individual can negotiate her own contract with the state, she added. “I, as a home-care provider, cannot fly to Sacramento … and go into the governor’s office.”
which is a very untrue statement."
the plaza outside the U.S. Supreme Court was filled with demonstrators as the justices heard oral arguments in the Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 case inside. On one side stood a spirited crowd, an array of working people. On the other, a group sent by the billionaires and special interests bankrolling the case tried to act like friends of everyday people. Men dressed in expensive designer suits held signs that read “Stand With Workers” as they shouted anti-union slogans. No one was fooled.
One year earlier, in Orange County, California, representatives from the same organization that staged the anti-union rally in Washington, D.C., showed up uninvited outside an orientation session for new home-care providers.
Home-care worker Toni Monique Taloa, a member of United Domestic Workers/AFSCME Local 3930, was disturbed by what she heard. “They were speaking to the (home-care) providers, telling them that they did not need to pay union dues — that they could put that money back in their pockets, that they could pay themselves, and that they would still receive the same benefits, which is a very untrue statement."
Together, SPN and its affiliates enjoy an annual budget of more than $80 million, thanks to the deep pockets of donors from the Koch brothers’ secretive network of billionaires and CEOs and other powerful funders such as the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. The Bradley Foundation has poured more than $30 million into supporting an assault on union rights through the courts.
These would-be union-busters turned up regularly during orientation sessions for new home-care providers, Taloa said.
The anti-worker rally at the court and the intrusions into California home-care orientation sessions were sponsored by the State Policy Network (SPN), an umbrella organization for more than 100 anti-union, anti-worker affiliates. Their goal, in their own words, is to “defund and defang” public service labor unions like AFSCME. Why? Because when unions are strong, their billionaire funders have less power over their employees and our country.
On a cold February day,
Soon, you may hear from representatives of these groups who will try to trick you into giving up your rights and hurting your pay.
POWER in Numbers
Unions work based on one simple premise:
To dupe working people into weakening their own unions, SPN spreads misinformation about unions, makes false claims to obscure its donors’ real agenda and uses poll-tested messages. All this in an effort to make it seem like SPN is on your side and that it’s in your best interest to drop your union membership. SPN also resorts to invasive tactics to track down public service workers.
In Oregon, Freedom Foundation submitted public-records requests for the home addresses and contact information — including dates of birth — of union members. And in “numerous counties” on the West coast, according to The Guardian, Freedom Foundation has made similar requests for information on unionized child-care and home-care workers. In Washington and Oregon, the newspaper reported, Freedom Foundation “dispatched activists to visit the homes of more than 10,000 child-care and home-care workers.”
Freedom Foundation also aims to sow chaos as it invades privacy, urging union members to turn over membership lists containing personal data.
According to Portland Senior Deputy City Attorney Heidi Brown, several union members, including a domestic violence survivor, expressed concerns for their personal safety if their records were released to the Freedom Foundation.
Members working in criminal justice facilities also see cause for alarm in any such release of their personal information, given the dangers they face in their field of work.
“It’s important to protect our union members from invasion of their privacy and from harassment from anti-union groups,” said Jack Stone, an Oregon corrections officer and member of AFSCME Local 405. “I know it’s vital to secure our personal information to protect ourselves and our families.”
No working person would willingly give up job security or give back pay raises and benefits such as health insurance or a pension. That’s why SPN and its allies rely on dirty tricks, lies and, most of all, withhold a key fact: Dropping your union membership weakens your union, which also weakens the community you serve.
Unions work based on one simple premise: power in numbers. When more people join together in a union, they have more power to negotiate with management for things like good pay, stable hours, fair treatment and benefits. And because the union is required by law to represent and negotiate on behalf of all employees equally — members and nonmembers alike — every person who opts to drop out of the union and receive those benefits for free actually weakens their union.
By AFSCME Staff