Metro-area unions reacted defiantly to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Janus vs AFSCME this morning. The Court ruled, 5-4, that public-sector unions should not be allowed to collect “fair share” fees from the workers they represent.
“This is not going to kill public sector unions,” said Andrew Washington, Executive Director of AFSCME Council 20, which represents DC city workers. In fact, Washington said, “It will make us stronger, as we continue to connect directly with our members about the importance of their union.”
And while Eric Bunn, AFGE District 14 National Vice President, said the ruling was a “devastating blow to working class Americans,” he insisted “the American labor movement isn’t going no damn where. We’ll keep fighting, not only for our members, but for all workers standing up against attacks from the bosses and the right wing.”
Washington said he’s been telling AFSCME Council 20 members “keep your voice, make sure you stay involved, to ensure a better life.”
Metro Washington Council president Jackie Jeter said she’s “disappointed that the Supreme Court has failed to protect workers rights,” but added that “I am excited about the unexplored possibilities that we have to mobilize and energize our members.” Jeter called the decision “a self serving ruling that’s clearly meant to keep workers unorganized and to maximize power and profit for big business, but no court can dilute the power of workers, united.”
See below for dozens of other union/ally responses...
Other union/ally responses:
AFT, AFSCME, SEIU, NEA joint statement
“As millions of American workers recommit to their unions and launch new organizing drives and as support for labor unions has risen to its highest level in years, it 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.”
AFSCME: Lee Saunders, President
We are more resolved than ever to fight like hell to win for our members and the communities they care so much about.
AFT: Randi Weingarten, President
“This is a dark day in U.S. jurisprudence. Swung by a Trump-appointed justice with a long history of ruling for the wealthy and corporations over regular people, the Supreme Court overturned a 40-year unanimously decided precedent that has given teachers and firefighters, nurses and cops, a path to a better life for themselves and their communities.
Alliance for Retired Americans, Robert Roach, Jr., President
“The Janus ruling affects both current and retired workers. Retirement benefits and pension security are important elements of contract negotiation. Local leaders could see their resources drained and attention diverted to membership retention instead of effective bargaining for retirement issues.”
ATU: Larry Hanley, President
“While this decision is both unjust and, frankly, unfair and stupid, it’s happening at a time workers, especially in right-to-work states—are more conscious than ever of the need to unite and fight back. Recent successful teachers’ strikes in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma have shown what happens when workers’ backs are pushed against the wall.”
COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS: Chris Shelton, President
“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.”
FIGHT FOR 15 AND A UNION
“No billionaire, corporation, or court has ever stopped us from fighting for $15/hr and union rights – and it's not about to happen today,” fast-food worker Shannon Jackson of Detroit e-mailed. “We're going to keep organizing and fighting to make our workplaces, our communities, and our nation better. It's how a handful of fast-food workers in New York grew into global movement and won raises for over 23 million people – and it's how we'll win today.”
International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE): Paul Shearon, Secretary Treasurer
"In the short run, the Janus decision may hurt some unions financially, but in the long run it will serve to make unions and their members more militant and force a stronger culture of internal organizing. The recent statewide teacher strikes demonstrate that when public sector workers face limitations on their bargaining rights they take their case to the streets."
Economic Policy Institute (EPI): Celine McNicholas, Director of Labor Law and Policy
Today’s decision directly impacts 17 million state and local government workers across the country. But this poses a threat to all working people because we all benefit from strong unions.
FIREFIGHTERS: Harold Schaitberger, President
“We are ready to take the best punch and deliver some blows ourselves to those that want to see fire fighters and their unions weakened.”
In the Public Interest: Donald Cohen, Executive Director
"This is yet another attack on working people, particularly black workers, who are 30 percent more likely than other workers to be employed in the public sector. It’s also the latest step in a decades-long assault on government that wields privatization, austerity, and deregulation to take power from those who work to pay their bills and put food on the table."
LABORERS: Terry O’Sullivan, President
"The Janus case represents an all-out attack on public sector unions meant to diminish the bargaining power of millions of public sector workers and divide us in the workplace.”
LCLAA (Labor Council for Latin American Advancement)
"Efforts to debilitate the labor force will be short lived; a court cannot stop hard working people from organizing and fighting for their rights."
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
"This ruling defies 41 years of legal precedent. It’s not every day that the Court overturns its prior and carefully considered decisions in the absence of a significant change of facts or circumstances. It raises questions about this Court’s commitment to the core principle of stare decisis."
NATIONAL CONSUMERS LEAGUE: Sally Greenberg, Executive Director
“Janus vs AFSCME is the unfortunate capstone of a decades-long assault on working Americans who choose to collectively stand up to improve their workplaces and their communities and is the result of a right-leaning court that favors business interests over workers.”
National Education Association (NEA): Lily Eskelsen García, President
“Today’s radical decision by the Supreme Court is a blatant slap in the face for educators, nurses, firefighters, police officers and all public servants who make our communities strong and safe. We are living in a system that is rigged to benefit special interests and billionaires, all at the expense of working people.
National Union of Healthcare Workers: Sal Rosselli, President
"In the aftermath of Janus, it’s time for unions to get back to our roots of empowering workers, and building worker solidarity from the bottom up so that everyone is invested in their union. That has always been the best model and it's now the only way forward."
OFFICE AND PROFESSIONAL EMPLOYEES: Richard Lanigan, President
“Today’s Supreme Court decision…is just another attempt by billionaires and wealthy corporate interests to curb the freedoms of working people and strip them of their right to a strong voice in the workplace. Despite today’s ruling, working people and their unions won’t be silenced…In states throughout the nation, workers are organizing and taking collective action like we’ve never seen before, and no Supreme Court decision is going to stop that momentum.”
Pride@Work: Jerame Davis, Executive Director
"LGBTQ working people lose greatly in this decision as well. In more than half the country, it is legal to fire an LGBTQ person solely based on their identity. A union contract is the only protection LGBTQ workers can attain against such discrimination and this ruling puts even those protections in jeopardy."
SEIU: Mary Kay Henry, President
We will stay united, help workers who are fighting to form unions, and call on our elected leaders to do everything in their power to make it easier for working people to join together in unions.”
TEAMSTERS, Jim Hoffa, president
“By backing the plaintiffs in 'Janus v. AFSCME,' the high court’s decision is an attempt to limit the collective voices of not only government workers, but those in the private sector as well.”
UAW: Gary Jones, President
“You cannot silence the voice of so many American families who want a seat at the bargaining table.”
UFCW: Marc Perrone, president
“This decision will lead to increased income inequality and needlessly make it more difficult for every hard-working union family to build a better life."
“Public workers will continue to organize and defend our rights to decent living and work standards despite court decisions and laws forbidding “fair share” fees.”