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AFT’s Weingarten and Johnson on the Events in Ferguson, Mo.

Statement of AFT President Randi Weingarten and Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson on the St. Louis County (Mo.) grand jury decision in the police shooting death of Michael Brown:

“Tonight, the fact remains that on Aug. 9, an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed. Given that we are a nation of laws, one can only hope that the lack of an indictment isn’t tantamount to any lack of zeal on the part of the prosecutor to do the job he was supposed to do to enable the grand jury to arrive at an impartial and fact-based decision. Having said that, tonight’s decision isn’t the last word in seeking justice for Michael Brown, as the Justice Department is still pursuing its investigation. We echo the calls of the Brown family, clergy and Gov. Nixon for peace, restraint and protection for peaceful protesters.

“This case once again reminds us that there is still much work to be done to achieve racial justice in America. It tells us that our moral compass and legal systems do not always align.

“In moments like these, we should redouble our efforts to ensure all children grow up in safe communities with high-quality neighborhood schools and a local economy rich with jobs—no matter their ZIP code, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.”

VOTE Tuesday, November 4

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Statement by UUP President Fred Kowal on Harris v. Quinn ruling

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On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Harris v. Quinn, a long-awaited case that could have gutted unions by barring them from collecting agency fees from non-members.

The case was brought by a group of Illinois home-care workers who refused to pay their fair share of their union’s costs to represent them in collective bargaining agreements. The court ruled that the home-care workers should be considered as “partial public employees,” and not be forced to pay their fair share—known in New York as agency fee—even though they would still be represented by their union.

In essence, these home-care workers would be “free riders,” contrary to the Supreme Court’s landmark 1977 case Abood vs. Detroit Board of Education, which asserted labor’s constitutional right to collect dues and collectively bargain for public workers.

UUP’s ability to represent its 35,000 members isn’t impaired by the Harris ruling, which does not apply to “full-fledged” public employees such as SUNY academics and professionals, teachers, police officers and firemen who work in the public sector.

Strong anti-union forces bankrolled and supported the case. The National Right to Work Committee Legal Defense Fund represented the home-care workers. The Legal Defense Fund is linked with the billionaire Koch brothers, the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Cato Institute, among other anti-union advocates.

Read entire article here.