Sara Lonardo,

Issued February 26, 2018

Tens of thousands participate in #WeRise walkouts, actions in 600 cities around the country

As Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME

WASHINGTON, D.C. - SEIU members joined with Fight for $15 activists, allies and community leaders across the nation today to show that working people are standing up for the good, union jobs our communities need and fighting back against the latest attack on their collective power. 

These actions happened on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Janus vs. AFSCME, a lawsuit driven by anti-worker CEOs and billionaires to divide working people and limit their power.

At more than 600 worksite actions from Maine to California, including walkouts, pickets and rallies, SEIU members joined with non-union workers, and called on elected leaders to help more working people join together in unions to ensure financial security for their families and strengthen their communities.  

Will Bennett, a Forest Inmate Crew Coordinator and SEIU Local 503 member from St. Helens, Oregon, has seen the positive impact of his union in his healthcare. “Because of our union, we have good health care coverage.  And now that the Affordable Care Act has been constantly under attack, it’s more important than ever for workers to have union contracts that ensure they get affordable care. It’s disgraceful that so many people in this country have to lose their houses or declare bankruptcy because of medical bills.”     

Nina Coffey, an Income Maintenance Case Worker and member of SEIU Local 668 in Philadelphia, attended a march and rally in the city with hundreds of her co-workers and explained the benefits of having union representation at her job. “The fact that I have a good union job has meant so much to me. I discovered I had a voice that I didn’t know I had and have been able to stand up for my coworkers when needed. I live in a better neighborhood, I have access to healthcare, and I’m able to pay for daycare and own a car.”  

SEIU Local 73 member Kim Akins, a Special Education Classroom Assistant with Chicago Public Schools knows how important it is for co-workers to talk with each other about the value of their union. “I know some people aren’t well informed on the benefits of having a union job. If I could speak to some of these people, I would encourage them to get more connected to their union because they’re paying dues and we should all know what’s happening with our union. You have a sisterhood and brotherhood in this organization. If and when you are put in a situation when you have some type of issue in your workplace, you are not alone in facing it. You are stronger in numbers rather than trying to be a solo act and think that you can work a problem out alone. A closed mouth is never fed.”

"We are here today because America gave something to each of us. It was a commitment. A promise America gave to everyone in this country. What was that promise? Well, its right there written on top of the Supreme Court of the United States: Equal – Justice – Under – The – Law. The Fight for $15 is proud to stand with our allies nationwide to defend those principles," said Terrance Wise of the Fight for $15.

The worksite actions came two days after tens of thousands of working people and allies hit the streets in marches and actions during the Working People’s Day of Action