September 22, 2023

Standing with Workers and Supporting our Chapters

Russ Feingold President

I spent much of this week visiting with our incredible chapters in Texas. As part of the trip, we had a book event planned for Half Price Books in Dallas. Upon learning that they do not support their workers, we promptly moved the event to show our solidarity with all Half Price Books workers. ACS stands with workers and with unions, and we are proud to stand with the workers of Half Price Books.

The past several months have exemplified the impact of unions and union organizing. Over the summer, the Teamsters successfully bargained for better pay and working conditions from UPS. The Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild remain on strike, and in the past week, the United Auto Workers initiated strikes at GM, Ford, and Stellantis plants to demand better pay and an end to the tiered wage system.

In talking about unions, I often hear claims that union power is declining, with only about one in ten workers unionized. We at ACS strongly rebuke the notion of declining union power. Despite the repeated blows that the packed U.S. Supreme Court has delivered to labor through decisions like Cedar Point Nursery and Glacier Northwest, the labor movement remains strong. Gallup recently reported that two-thirds of Americans approve of labor unions, and we would point to the impactful strikes and newly bargained contracts as proof of the power of labor. We also point to and support the thousands of workers at Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, and elsewhere who are working to unionize in pursuit of livable wages and better working conditions. These workers understand the power of unions and are organizing so they can wield that power to achieve better pay and working conditions from companies that have the resources to pay living wages but too often choose to pay less. ACS stands with workers and will continue to advocate for workers’ rights.

We see first-hand how energized the next generation of progressive leaders are about workers’ rights. The new academic year has commenced for most law schools, and we’ve seen the passion from our student leaders in organizing events this school year on union power and workers’ rights.

I want to take this opportunity as fall begins to welcome our new and returning student members from our nearly 150 student chapters across the country. The impact of ACS can be explained in two words: our network. And that includes our student chapters who foster progressive legal analysis on their campuses and contribute to the pipeline of progressive legal leadership for our country. Today’s ACS student members are tomorrow’s judges, scholars, non-profit leaders, and elected officials.

As the academic year gets underway, we want to encourage our students and chapters to maximize the value of ACS. Our 2023-2024 program guide focused on countering “Authoritarian Threats to Securing a Multiracial Democracy” will soon be available, and we encourage all our chapters to take advantage of it as they plan their programs and speaker lineups for the next year.

We also urge you to engage our incredible ACS staff and to use them as a resource in planning programs, thinking through challenges, and responding to events on campus. Our ACS staff has developed several resources for student leaders and asks that you keep our team informed about your plans for programs and for on-campus activity so we can help you be prepared and be as effective as possible.

ACS supports its chapters’ right to sponsor, promote, or participate in demonstrations, counterprogramming, boycotts, and other events protesting policies and events with which they disagree. We also expect our chapters to remain peaceful and to undertake protests constructively and respectfully, while not diminishing their ability to speak out and draw attention to policies and events with which they disagree.

As our program guide lays out, our country is facing an existential struggle between our pursuit of a multiracial democracy and the threat of authoritarianism. We applaud our students who want to mobilize in support of democracy and progressive legal values on their campuses and to foster discussion with their programs. We look forward to working with our chapters as they look to the year ahead for opportunities to show up and shape the debate on their campuses and in their communities.