An upcoming Supreme Court decision might weaken our union rights.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case called Janus v AFSCME that is being pushed by wealthy corporations and right-wing politicians to eliminate our freedom to come together in unions to create a better life.
By law, unions must provide representation services to all employees in the bargaining units they represent, whether or not those employees are members of the union. The issue in Janus is whether a public employer is allowed to reach an agreement with a union that represents its employees by which all members of the bargaining unit who choose not to become members of the union will be required instead of paying dues to pay a fair share fee to help cover the union’s costs of the services that are provided to the non-members.
The Janus case originated with the federal court lawsuit that was filed in February 2015 by Bruce Rauner, the billionaire governor of Illinois. He was seeking authority to enforce an executive order he had just issued. That order stopped the collection of fair share fees from non-union state employees who were represented by over 25 different unions. The Illinois state attorney general moved to dismiss Rauner’s case.
However, shortly after the filing of the motion to dismiss, the viciously anti-union “National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation” and the so-called “Liberty Justice Center,” persuaded Mark Janus, a public employee, to file a motion on the side of the governor. The governor lost the case, and both the district court and court of appeals ruled against Janus.
But the anti-union groups pushed on and got the Supreme Court to hear the case on February 26. The Court could issue a decision sometime this summer.
Those behind the Janus case want the high court to overrule decades of precedent that has enabled public sector unions to charge a fair-share fee to nonmembers for the representation unions provide. The goal is to ruin unions financially, weaken workers’ rights, and further exacerbate the imbalance of power in our economic, political and social systems. No one is forced to join a union and no one is forced to pay any fees that go to politics or political candidates. That is already the law of the land. Nothing in this case will change that. This case is about taking away the freedom of working people to come together, speak up for each other and build a better life for themselves and their families. The so-called “National Right to Work Committee” is pushing this case. It is part of a network funded by corporate billionaires to use the courts to rig the rules against everyday working people. Janus is just one of the ways corporate forces and right-wing interests are attacking working people. The Guardian recently reported on a network of right-wing think tanks and funders plotting an $80 million campaign in nearly every state to “defund and defang unions,” because they know strong unions are the only thing standing between them and total control of our economy and democracy.
They are doomed to failure. Members of the Washington Teachers’ Union, and of every union, know that no corporate bully can stop us when enough of us unite for our freedoms, our health care, our communities and our futures.
For example, in Washington, DC and other cities across the country last month, thousands demonstrated to protest a system that favors corporations and the wealthy.