Luckily, in New York, the state with the largest number of union workers nationwide, we have a governor, Andrew Cuomo, who values the union worker. He recently signed into law some preemptive safeguards for the possibility that the Janus Supreme Court case does not go our way. The new law makes it easier for unions to register public employees and to impose rules on opting out. It also allows unions to deny certain benefits to free-loaders, such as legal representation for job-related cases.
But more must be done. And that’s where the theme of that Teamster weekend was so inspiring. The theme was “The Power of Hope.” To my thinking, there is no question that hope makes good things happen. Without it, all is lost. But with hope, we find the way. We need to harness hope. We need to let hope become the catalyst for change.
Among its many virtues, hope can energize the labor movement and propel a powerful message to elected leaders and to the public at large that we are not the enemy. Unions built the middle class in America. And the public sector worker is the one we all rely upon every day and in so many ways to help make government services work and our lives function better. We just want to make sure that our children will have a place in the America unions helped to create. We don’t want them to be shut out. And we can do that as long as we stay united and draw inspiration from words Dr. King often said: “The impossible can happen. It just takes a little longer.”