Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    Why students should care about the assault on labor

    by Jennifer Shanoski


    Right-wing groups have taken swings at organized labor for decades, promoting anti-worker narratives and limiting workplace protections through legislation and lawsuits. And now, with a 5–4 majority on the country’s highest court, they’re poised to deal a serious blow to unions.

    On Feb. 26, the Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments in Janus vs. AFSCME, a case that considers unions’ collection of “fair share” fees. Since 1977, unions have charged all the workers they protect, even nonmembers. Since everyone who works in a unionized environment benefits from union activities — e.g., securing safe workplaces and decent wages, healthcare, and pensions — “fair share” seems, well, only fair.

    But what does this have to do with students? Why should students care about teachers’ livelihoods? How do teachers’ working conditions actually connect to students’ learning conditions?

    PCCD faculty members are highly educated, highly qualified individuals committed to sharing their knowledge and expertise. We choose careers that serve students, and through our union, we’re able to negotiate the resources required to lead professional lives of educational service.

    And studies show that communities with strong unions see improved wages and working conditions for all workers, even those without a union — and this, of course, is why conservatives have long sought to eliminate unionism.

    The Peralta Federation of Teachers, the union that represents faculty members at our four colleges, works to bring attention to wasteful spending, administrative bloat, and poor facilities. We prioritize student learning by demanding reasonable class sizes, instructional assistants, and safe learning spaces. We advocate at the local, state, and federal levels so that funding is directed toward students in classrooms. We know our students, and we know the myriad challenges that face them every day.

    Put plainly, the assault on labor is an assault on public education. All students and, frankly, all citizens should care deeply about that.

    For more information, mark your calendar for a PFT-sponsored conference on Friday, Apr. 27, from 11 a.m. — 7 p.m. at Berkeley City College. Let’s work together to envision a future for labor, education, and activism after the Janus decision.


    Jennifer Shanoski is PFT President and a Guest Columnist for The Laney Tower

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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