Unions, Friedrichs, and Free Speech

cuny12316
Shaun Richman
Working in These Times
As the spring semester starts up at the City University of New York, union activists continue the painstaking work of preparing for a strike authorization vote. Faculty and staff at CUNY have been working without a contract for over five years. While Governor Cuomo disinvests in the primary college system for working class New Yorkers, management proposes salary increases that amount to decreases after inflation.
The parallels between the struggle to save CUNY and the struggle over the future of Chicago Public Schools are obvious, with one major exception: it is totally illegal for teachers to strike in New York. The last major union to violate the draconian Taylor Law, TWU Local 100, was fined $2.5 million for waging a 60-hour strike that shut down the city’s subway and bus system in 2005. On top of that, the union’s ability to collect dues money was suspended for a year, its president jailed for 10 days and each individual striker was fined two days pay for each one day on strike.
But in an interesting twist, the anti-union Friedrichs v. CTA case currently under consideration by the Supreme Court could actually lay the ground work for making public employee strikes in New York and elsewhere constitutionally protected free speech.
A long history of carving unions out of the 1st Amendment Continue reading

Tennessee Republicans single out unions with anti-picketing bill

by Laura Clawson

McDonald's worker Keyana McDowell, 20, (L) strikes outside McDonald's in Los Angeles, California, December 5, 2013. Organizers say fast food workers will strike in 100 U.S. cities, and there will be protests in 100 more, to fight for $15 an hour wages and

It seems unions are having a little too much success in Tennessee for the comfort of Republicans there, so the state legislature is planning to do something about it. Spurred by the fact that Tennessee added 31,000 union members last year, state Rep. Jeremy Durham has introduced a bill that would create a new “mass picketing” misdemeanor specifically aimed at labor activists: Continue reading