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Fifty-five years ago, in a speech to the convention of the Illinois AFL-CIO, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. laid out with characteristic moral clarity the essential role of unions in American life. “The labor movement,” he explained, “was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress … [When] the wave of union organization crested over the nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society. Civilization began to grow in the economic life of man, and a decent life with a sense of security and dignity became a reality rather than a distant dream.”

This Labor Day, America’s working families are facing unprecedented challenges.

The moment you may have been dreading arrived June 27, when the Supreme Court imposed the open shop on the public sector nationwide with its decision in Janus v. AFSCME District 31.

Their membership has been declining for decades. They’ve been bedeviled by crippling new laws, and by a devastating U.S. Supreme Court decision just this week. From all appearances, it would seem that labor unions are an endangered species.

But here’s the surprise: Organized labor is showing new signs of life.

In Janus v. AFSCME, the US Supreme Court's conservative 5-4 majority held that public employees cannot be required by state law to pay a fair share of the cost of services that unions must provide members and nonmembers alike.

Janus comes a month after Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, where the same majority decided employees can be required by companies to submit all workplace grievances to private arbitration and waive their rights both to go to court and join together in class-action lawsuits.

The radical conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court have twice now in two months ganged up on working Americans, denying them their right to band together to achieve mutual goals.   

UPDATE: The Massachusetts AFL-CIO urges you to Call National Grid at 781-907-1000 and tell them to end the lockout immediately!

Through all the celebration of LGBTQ Pride this month, there’s been a valuable opportunity to reflect on the hard-fought victories, brutal setbacks, and tenacious struggles that have ultimately delivered so much for so many. And just as importantly, there has been time to think about what lies ahead in that fight for justice.

Six months after President Trump and Republicans in Congress jammed through massive tax cuts mostly for corporations and the wealthy, it has become clear that working families are suffering while billionaire GOP campaign contributors luxuriate in a tax windfall.