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Joint statement on mobilizations, Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 oral arguments

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García joins presidents of nation’s four largest public sector unions on collective power of these nationwide mobilizations

WASHINGTON - February 27, 2018 -

Throughout the month of February, working people have been more energized and organized than any time in recent memory. There have been nationwide moments of silence and fast food strikes to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers strike. Tens of thousands took to the streets in at least 30 cities this weekend to demand an end to a rigged economy. Today, there are more than 500 worksite actions. Working people are speaking out with pride and passion, even as billionaires and corporate interests tried to use the United States Supreme Court today to attack public service workers, good union jobs, and the health and safety of communities across America.

The presidents of the four largest public service unions in America issued the following statements about the collective power of these nationwide mobilizations, and about oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31. They are available for further comment today.

“If the Supreme Court’s decision is based on merit, on facts and on the law, there’s no doubt they will rule in favor of working people. In the face of ruthless, dishonest attacks against their freedom to come together in strong unions, working people are drawing the line. We stand united in fighting a rigged system that rewards the super-wealthy at everyone else’s expense. And we will not rest until we build an economy where everyone has a voice on the job, a seat at the table and a chance to succeed.”
Lee Saunders, President, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

“This case isn’t about Mark Janus — it’s a ruse funded by the Kochs, the Bradleys, the DeVoses and other anti-union oligarchs to deny working folks the opportunity for a better life. Unions help make possible what would be impossible for individuals acting alone: living wages and a decent retirement, safe and welcoming public schools, affordable college and healthcare, and a voice in our democracy. They’re attacking us because they see a strong labor movement as a threat to their wealth and power.”
Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers (AFT)

“Today, thousands of working people rallied outside the U.S. Supreme Court and around the country to send a message that, whatever the decision in this case, these oligarchs won’t stop working families from realizing our American dream. Make no mistake about it, we are living in a system that is rigged to benefit special interests and billionaires at the expense of American working people. It is no shock to most that is has become harder and harder for working people to get ahead and provide stability for their families. The corporate special interests behind this case are dead set on eliminating the rights and freedoms of working people to organize, to negotiate collectively and to have any voice in working to better their lives. This is a blatant slap in the face of educators, nurses, firefighters, police officers and all public servants who make our communities strong and safe.”
Lily Eskelsen García, President, National Education Association (NEA)

“Tens of thousands of working people have hit the streets to show that we won't let any court case stop us from sticking together for the good, union jobs our communities need. Today we call on America’s elected leaders to take action to help more working people join together in unions to turn poverty-wage jobs into good, union jobs that provide financial security to families and strengthen communities.”
Mary Kay Henry, President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

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About the American Federation of State County Municipal Employees
AFSCME's 1.6 million members provide the vital services that make America happen. With members in hundreds of different occupations — from nurses to corrections officers, child care providers to sanitation workers — AFSCME advocates for fairness in the workplace, excellence in public services and prosperity and opportunity for all working families. Learn more at

About the American Federation of Teachers
The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators. Go online to

About the National Education Association
The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at

About the Service Employees International Union
The Service Employees International Union unites 2 million diverse members in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. SEIU members working in the healthcare industry, public sector and property services believe in the power of joining together on the job to win higher wages and benefits and to create better communities while fighting for a more just society and an economy that works for all of us, not just corporations and the wealthy. Go to to learn more.

For More Information, Contact: AFSCME: Marianne von Nordeck, 202-812-0091,
AFT: Andrew Crook, 607-280-6603,
NEA: Staci Maiers, 202-270-5333,
SEIU: Sara Lonardo, 202-730-7332,