Sisters & Brothers,

Sometimes the better angels of our nature prevail, even in Congress.

The recent defeat of the Senate’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a victory for working men and women across the country. The repeal of Obamacare would have been decimating to the middle class, families and working people. Even a “skinny” repeal would have done irrevocable damage to the American health care system to the tune of leaving 16 million more people uninsured while raising premiums 20%.

The ACA certainly has its flaws, and there are still folks out there without health coverage. But President Obama’s namesake piece of legislation has also had such a positive effect: millions more are now covered, insurers can’t deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, lifetime and annual coverage limits have been eliminated and more. Why a group of people in Washington would stand before the American people and tell them that these are bad things is troubling and perplexing. Why would someone take joy in voting for something that directly hurts our fellow Americans? A repeal of the ACA would have placed hundreds of millions of dollars into the pockets of some of the wealthiest folks in America. This was a health care debate that had nothing to do with “health” or “care.”

This matters to us as a union, AFSCME Local 3090, even though we have great benefits. A repeal of Obamacare would hurt our friends and family, our neighbors and associates. And this shines a light on just how important the work that we do as a union is, why solidarity, strength in numbers and collective bargaining is so important. You and Local 3090 have fought hard for every word that is in our contract, and we earn it every day. We can’t assume that City of Los Angeles, the Mayor, the CAO or management just hand out benefits and raises to anyone. We fight for all of these things. Remember we are stronger together!

But that concept of sisterhood and brotherhood is also under attack. Janus v AFSCME, which has made it to the Supreme Court, challenges the long-held arrangement of public-sector agency fees. It will give employees the option to “opt-out” of paying union dues. The worse part is, we don’t know if the union will be obligated to represent everyone in its bargaining unit, anyway, whether they are members or not. For the last 40 years, agency fee was put in place to accept “fees” from non-members to help cover the costs involved in fighting for them for fair contracts with good benefits, raises and job protections. Simply put, since everyone benefits in the same way, everyone should chip in. Well, anti-union forces don’t like this arrangement and have been gunning to get this policy overturned. By achieving that, they will diminish your voice in the workplace because individually you can’t gain what is achieved by sticking together in numbers. NUMBERS is POWER! There’s more information to come on Janus, but we must remain vigilant against attacks on labor rights no matter which direction they come from.

Carmen Hayes-Walker

Alice Goff

Carmen Hayes-Walker
President AFSCME 3090

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