Summer 2019 is a ripe time for anniversaries.
Today, it’s been one year since Janus v. AFSCME, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck a victory for government worker rights by banning forced union dues. This month, Americans for Fair Treatment is also looking back on a year of fruitful work since we ramped up our outreach efforts with our Free to Teachproject.
We’ve seen success in the last year in two main ways: we’re getting the word out, and teachers are speaking up.
Through mailers, blogs, and online marketing, we’ve been busy telling Pennsylvania’s 330,000 teachers and other government workers about their Janusrights. It’s important because many still don’t know their options. They’re unaware that they can now resign from their union and no longer pay non-member fair share fees, or change the type of union representation they have. What’s more, it’s become clear that the fossilized and heavy-handed PSEA and AFT-PA don’t want teachers to know their rights.
Case in point: this month, Free to Teach sent some 4,000 school board members a copy of our handy booklet, Knowing Your Rights and Union Alternatives. One eastern Pennsylvania board member was so happy with the information, he asked us for 300 more copies—one for every teacher in his district. We also followed up by sending 112,000 Pennsylvania public school educators this postcardexplaining their rights.
That’s when the president of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers blew her top.
Nina-Esposito Visgitis emailed thousands of members calling our postcard “truly reprehensible direct mail.” She also dubbed us as anti-union (this despite our full-throated support of local-only unions like these ones in Memphisand Cincinnati). You can read her entire outraged overreaction here—all because of our humble postcard.
In the meantime, being informed and empowered is giving folks the courage to speak up and fight for their rights. Several AFFT members, like John Kabler or Francisco Molina, have gone on separately to participate in potentially precedent-setting post-Janus litigation. Others, like teachers Cheri Gensel and Katy Phillips, have become powerful defenders of post-Janus legislation in the media.
In short, it’s been a very good year. Here’s to the next one—and to you, our members and advocates for workplace freedom!