In its 5-4 decision on Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Supreme Court ended the practice of requiring public sector workers who benefit from union representation to pay their fair share of union fees.
A joint statement from the country’s four largest public sector unions called the decision “a blatantly political and well-funded plot to use the highest court in the land to further rig the economic rules against everyday working people.”
The country’s public sector is much more unionised than its private sector, and some fear that the ruling will weaken the resurgent labour movement there by starving it of resources. However, unions had a clear message in the wake of the court’s decision: we will not be stopped.
Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union, said, “The right-wing and corporate interests that backed the Janus case hoped to ‘defund and defang’ unions, but the labour movement in United States—and throughout the world—is not taking attack on workers rights’ lying down. We are mobilising and organising to stand for our values of equality, dignity, and justice.”
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka summed up the spirit of the labour movement by saying, “We have never depended on any politician or judge to decide our fate, and we aren’t about to start now.”
Below are responses from U.S. labour leaders.
Mary Kay Henry, International President, SEIU:
“The anti-worker extremists behind this case want to divide working people, make it harder to pool our resources, and limit our collective power. But SEIU members won’t let any court case stand in our way of sticking together for good jobs and strong communities.”
CWA President Chris Shelton:
“Corporate special interest groups have been working for decades to strip away workers’ freedom to join together and negotiate for fair wages and benefits, and to improve our workplaces. They want to turn back the clock on achievements like Social Security, civil rights, wage and hour and safety laws, Medicare, and public education that unions fight every day to preserve.
“Union members will show them that nothing can stand in the way of working people standing together. We call on elected officials at the local, state and national level to stand with working people and make it easier for them to join together in unions.”
D. Taylor, International Union President of UNITE HERE:
“This decision robs power from working families to put it in the hands of corporate elites. Let us allow it to serve as a catalyst to the labour movement for bolder, stronger worker organising. This ruling is designed to break American workers by putting unfair burdens on us that the corporate elites think we cannot beat—but together we can let it embolden us to organise to greater heights than we have ever before and deliver the tangible victories that transform workers’ lives.”
Marc Perrone, President of the UFCW said:
“Unions like ours offer a true path for people to earn higher pay and high-quality benefits that are affordable.
“While the Supreme Court has chosen to ignore the value unions offer and the good we do, we will never stop proving the incredible good that comes to hard-working men and women when they unite together.”
Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and UNI Commerce Global President:
“At a time when working people continue to struggle, our government and the courts should be supporting stronger unions, not working to undermine them. This decision is nothing more than a thinly-veiled political attack on public unions. Despite this decision, a reinvigorated labour movement will continue to help workers organise and use their constitutionally-guaranteed union voice. Strong unions remain the only way workers can guarantee better jobs and better lives.”
Photo Credit: Mike Ferguson/AAUP