SEIU, AFSCME Members Rise Up for Freedom in San Mateo County

AFSCME Local 829 members joined with SEIU Local 521 and other San Mateo County leaders in Redwood City to send a strong message on the day that oral arguments began for the Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court case.

“Janus is an attack on our middle class,” San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa told a crowd of union brothers and sisters as they gathered in the San Mateo County Government Center. “So what you’re doing today is so meaningful not only you just as an AFSCME member, not only for you just as an SEIU member, but you’re doing it for the rest of the county and making sure that we don’t let our middle class values go to waste.”

The rally, dubbed “Together We Rise,” was held in conjunction with sister rallies organized throughout the country to rise up against rich and powerful corporations who are using the Supreme Court and Janus v. AFSCME to divide working people and take away our freedom to join together in unions.

Over the weekend leading up to Feb. 26, AFSCME led the Working People’s Day of Action, where tens of thousands of working people and their allies came together in 30 cities across the country to unrig the system for all working people.

Mariaelena Cleary, a bus driver at the Sequoia Union High School District and a steward for Local 829, was one of the members who showed up to take part in the rally in Redwood City.

Cleary said she and other Local 829 members wanted to do their small part to contribute to the larger union voice fighting for decent and equitable pay, affordable health care, quality schools, vibrant communities and a secure future for all.

“Unions give us the ability to negotiate our contracts and have better lives. For example, without our union, there would be a lot more firings,” she said. “That’s why my coworkers and I were more than willing to stand up for a cause that is worthy. We are definitely not just going to lay down and be silent.”

With conservative, business-friendly Justice Neil Gorsuch now sitting on the bench, it is very likely the Supreme Court decision may not go in favor of working people. But Cleary said she isn’t worried about any of that.

“I think this Janus case has sparked an awakening,” she said. “If we lose, people are going to start realizing that their jobs are under attack—and their families are under attack too. So, yeah, it’s time for everyone to wake up.”