CHN: Supreme Court Rules Against Working Americans

In a blow to millions of working Americans, the U.S. Supreme Court on June 27 ruled 5-4 against unions’ rights to collect “fair share” or “agency” fees from non-union members. Under current law, workers who choose not to join their workplace’s union do not pay union dues but do pay fair share fees to cover the basic costs for union representation, as these workers are still covered under collective bargaining agreements negotiated by the unions. Janus v. AFSCME, which overturns a 1977 Supreme Court decision, is the third such case to come before the Supreme Court in five years involving public-sector unions’ ability to collect fair share fees. A report from the Economic Policy Institute found that all three of these cases have been funded by “a small group of foundations with ties to the largest and most powerful corporate lobbies.”

In a joint statement issued after the ruling, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the National Education Association (NEA) – all CHN members – and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), said, “[I]t is shameful that the billionaire CEOs and corporate special interests behind this case have succeeded in manipulating the highest court in the land to do their bidding. This case was nothing more than a blatant political attack to further rig our economy and democracy against everyday Americans in favor of the wealthy and powerful.” The National Employment Law Project, also a member of CHN, said, “Workers’ ability to form unions and act collectively has helped make the American ideals of prosperity and economic security a reality for millions of workers. Today, by a single-vote majority, this Supreme Court has put those ideals at risk.” CHN said that the Court’s decision, “by undermining unions, threatens all working people and will further increase income inequality, while giving aid and comfort to the wealthiest Americans and big corporations.… [I]t it is not just union members who will be harmed – workplace standards for millions more will be at risk.”

Following the handing down of this decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced he would retire from the Supreme Court effective at the end of July. Advocates rallied in front of the Court on June 28, many demanding that the Senate wait until after the midterm elections to vote on a Trump nominee. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said, “All senators need to put country over party and use all of the tools available to them to stop President Trump’s plan to take over the Supreme Court for the next 40 years. No one should be considered for the Supreme Court until the people have a say in the November midterm elections.”

Labor and Employment
Supreme Court