Don't Mourn. Organize.

Dear members and supporters,

On June 27, the Supreme Court ruled against union power in the Janus vs. AFSCME case. This ruling rolls back decades of the fight for worker rights. Nationwide, public sector workers protected by union benefits like collective bargaining, contracts, and representation may choose to not pay their fair share of union dues. Janus is a shameless ruling that attempts to weaken unions from above by making all public employees “right-to-work.”

SEIU-Duke Graduate Students Union affirms our pledge that we will not allow this ruling to weaken our union. North Carolina workers have been fighting against this same legislation in our home state since 1947. Despite facing these attacks for over 70 years, unions that do and do not have the right to collective bargaining have organized and won for workers’ rights and safety:

  • SEIU-DGSU celebrated its first academic year with direct-join dues-paying membership;
  • SEIU-Duke Faculty Union celebrated their first contract;
  • AFSCME-Local 77 of Duke campus workers celebrated a victory when Duke promised to pay campus workers $15/hour by 2019, a fight for fair wages that the union began in 1965;
  • Graduate students and campus workers formed a chapter of UE Local 150-UNC Chapel Hill;
  • 20,000 people joined the NC and Durham Association of Educators to march on the state General Assembly for teachers and students;
  • Fast food workers in Fight For 15 organized the south for $15/hour for all workers;
  • The Durham Workers Assembly has brought together unions and workers from across Durham in a united fight for fair wages, benefits, and treatment for all workers.

The list of successes could go on! Workers across NC have proven time and again that we can come out triumphant despite continued attacks on our jobs, our communities, and our livelihoods.

Now, in the face of the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling, we have the responsibility to show the nation that our resistance moves forward. Even without the right to fairly negotiate a contract with Duke University, SEIU-DGSU continues to win rights for graduate student-workers. Our members secured coverage for sixth-year continuation fees; gym access after our third year; peer representatives to assist navigating sexual violence reporting; longer parental leave; and protections for student healthcare. The Janus ruling is a blow to labor rights, but workers in SEIU-DGSU and across the country are already using nontraditional union models to mobilize and fight for what we need!

We can’t stop now. Members and supporters, we ask you to show your commitment to our pledge. Post this image (also linked below) on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram from Monday, 7/9 to Friday, 7/13. Remember to use these hashtags-- #UnionStrong #Union #Janus--and tag @DukeGradUnion. Let’s spread the word that we will not stand for Janus!

If you are not yet a member, sign up now! Follow this link to join SEIU-DGSU today!

In love and solidarity,

Jessica Gokhberg, GWC Representative, Working Group on Harassment and Discrimination
Hannah Rogers, Director of Communications
Matthew Taft, GWC Representative,
Katya Gorecki, Co-Chair
Jess Issacharoff, Co-Chair
Chase Gregory, Communications Committee
Jessica Covil, Communications Committee
Ajenai Clemmons, Working Group on Harassment and Discrimination

Visit our website to find out more about our campaigns to end continuation fees, stop sexual violence, improve healthcare, and increase pay.

Chris Huebner