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Home / US / Labor Clout Meets Success in Supreme Court Decision on Fees: NPR

Labor Clout Meets Success in Supreme Court Decision on Fees: NPR



Union activists and supporters demonstrate Wednesday in Lower Manhattan against the Supreme Court ruling in Janus vs. AFSCME

Drew Angerer / Getty Images


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Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Activists and supporters of the union demonstrate Wednesday in Lower Manhattan against the Supreme Court ruling in Janus v AFSCME

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

On the last day of its 2017-2018 session, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that would harm the public sector unions in the paperback and strike a blow to workers' clout in the political arena.

In the case Janus v. AFSCME the court ruled in a 5-4 referendum with conservatives that union workers can not demand that representative workers pay a penny in union fees.

It is a decision that could cost unions several million dollars – depending on how many workers simply decide that they would rather have this money in their paycheck, rather than pay it to a work organization , And they can make that decision and continue to work and work under contracts negotiated by unions that provide wages and benefits. And while it is impossible to predict what the impact will be on a particular union, there seems to be a certainty that each of them will suffer a financial blow.

The case concerns a large group of employees in America: police and firefighters, teachers, public health workers, municipal employees and many, many others. The case is also significant because the public sector has a high union structure – more than a third of all these workers in 2017. (Compared to only 6.5% of private sector jobs unionized in the same period .) [19659013] Is this Supreme Court decision the end of teacher unions? “/>

So Janus may come directly to one of the real strengths of the otherwise severely battered American labor movement.

Among the revelers is Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Brothers-funded group of a major national effort to enact laws restricting workers' ability to automatically collect contributions from workers in unionized jobs.

Akash Chougule, AFP's senior policy adviser, argues that the verdict is not anti-union. "If you like your union, you can keep your union," he says. "What we say, and what the court once made clear, is that you can not force workers against their will to finance their union."

Before this week's decision, government employees already had the right not to pay anything to finance the union's political activity – but they were obliged to the union to pay something "agency fee" to cover the costs of negotiating contracts from which they have benefited. After the Janus decision, this requirement is gone. Government employees do not need to contribute to the union nationwide.

University of California, Berkeley Specialist Harley Shaiken Says Janus is said to "weaken unions" and it's likely to do just that "[19659009] It's hard to predict what the implications for a particular union will be , But the work will face the following dynamic: it can be expected that employees who dislike unions, get out and take the money, but this could also just make ambiguous those who are in a union to get out. The largest public sector union in the US is the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, better known as AFSCME. Its president, Lee Saunders, says of Janus : "You know, it's hard to take" before adding, "We'll have to make some adjustments, but this is a chance for us." What Means Kennethy's Retirement for Abortion Rights “/>

Saunders notes that in an earlier case three years ago, the court suggested that this would be the direction it would take with this case. The AFSCME chief says the union has already adapted to the new reality. He says AFSCME has significantly improved workers' work on what the union does for them. He says there is more personal contact, which also includes a lot of listening to the union.

"We took it for granted – the importance of communication," says Saunders, "the importance of individual communication." He says he expects this approach to mitigate part of the financial loss.

Saunders also points to a new era of workers' activism across America Courts make the work of unions harder. He points to the massive protests and strikes that have led to wage increases for teachers in places like West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona. He says that this is an indication that worker activism is still very much alive, regardless of unfavorable court cases.

And There Is Some Evidence That Unions Can Do The case of workers that they provide value may limit the legally allowed contribution losses , Shaiken says look to Nevada. It is a so-called "right-to-work" state where union fees for private sector workers in union shops are not yet allowed to be paid. Nevertheless, the Las Vegas cooking union has remained a driving force in both organization and politics.

Shaiken points out that with 57,000 members, it is the largest union in the country. "But 95 percent of these 57,000 workers pay union dues, because they see the effectiveness in their daily lives," says Shaiken.

That may be a best-case scenario. Other unions across the country are now challenged to find their own version of this model. All of this comes when union leaders commit to being more active than ever in the 2018 and 2020 elections, where they will find well-financed opponents.


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