March 9, 2016
By Anne Silerstein
Reprinted from: New York Teacher
New York, NY – The UFT launched its Union Loud and Proud campaign at the Feb. 3 Delegate Assembly in response to the relentless attacks by right-wing billionaires on teachers unions and the rest of organized labor.
Those attacks have culminated in the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case before the U.S. Supreme Court that aims to torpedo the financial underpinnings of public-sector unions. (The Feb. 13 death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made a June ruling against the unions less certain, but the threat remains.)
UFT President Michael Mulgrew told the delegates the Friedrichs case is the latest effort in an organized, nationwide campaign to destroy the labor movement.
“We know what this case is really about,” Mulgrew said. “A bunch of bad people don’t like us because we stand up to them. They think that they’re much smarter than us because they have billions of dollars, so therefore we should all shut up.”
While the delegates got busy on their phones, staff members passed out Union Loud and Proud buttons. In addition, every delegate received a printed flier that outlined the “Top 10” benefits of belonging to a union as well as a fact sheet that explains the Friedrichs lawsuit. These fliers may be downloaded at www.uft.org/unionproud.
Mulgrew said the union’s Loud and Proud campaign will serve two purposes: It will educate members about the Friedrichs case and the forces behind it, and it will disseminate information about the value of strong unions for members and the broader workforce.
Mulgrew said the union would be asking members who sign up for the campaign for their ideas of school-based and citywide actions. Meanwhile, he said, the union would be spreading the word on social media using the hashtag #unionproud.
In addition to galvanizing its own members, the UFT, by virtue of its size and its leading role in past battles, will help pave the way for other unions, he said. The UFT will provide other public-sector unions with support materials to build their own campaigns.
“We don’t want to be the one big union standing here,” Mulgrew said. “We have to help our brothers and sisters in these other unions.”
Mulgrew said the UFT also will start highlighting the billionaires who are behind the anti-union efforts so they can no longer hide behind their think tanks and foundations.
“This is a clever, insidious attack on us,” Mulgrew said. “They have not done this just to us. They have destroyed entire communities across the country — just destroyed them and left them in shambles. And they have no remorse whatsoever.”