Northwest labor press. (Portland , Ore.) 1987-current, July 06, 2018, Page 8, Image 8

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    PAGE 8 |
... Supreme Court delivers blow to union movement
sion a huge blow to working
America—masterminded by the
privileged and powerful. “Last
year, the powerful few com-
pleted the theft of a Supreme
Court seat,” Merkley said.
“Now, as planned, they are reap-
ing the rewards with a decision
designed to cripple workers’
ability to come together to insist
on a fair shake.”
From Page 1
Reactions to the decision
were widespread and fierce,
starting with the Court’s own
minority. Justice Elena Kagan
said in Janus, the court’s major-
ity is “weaponizing the First
Amendment, in a way that un-
leashes judges, now and in the
future, to intervene in economic
and regulatory policy.”
The ruling is “politics, not
law,” said Alice O’Brien, top
lawyer for the National Educa-
tion Association. “Rather than
precedent or principle, what ap-
pears to drive the Janus majority
is barely concealed animus to-
ward public sector unions and
their advocacy.”
“This is not just an attack on
public-sector workers,” said
IBEW International President
Lonnie Stephenson. “It is an at-
tack on every single American
The Janus v. AFSCME case gets its
name from Illinois child support spe-
cialist Mark Janus, a union objector
represented by AFSCME Council 31.
But it’s a fitting name for the case for
another reason: Janus was the Ro-
man god of beginnings and transi-
tions, always depicted as having two
faces, one looking at the past and
one looking at the future.
who works for a living, and it is
only the first step in an effort to
repeal every right won by work-
ing people in this country.”
U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-
Oregon) called the Janus deci-
Not our opinion:
The dissenting minority speaks
Below is an excerpt of the fiery dissenting
opinion Obama appointee Elena Kagan wrote
on behalf of the four Supreme Court justices
who opposed the majority in Janus v AFSCME.
here is no sugarcoating
today’s opinion. The ma-
jority overthrows a deci-
sion entrenched in this nation’s
law, and in its economic life, for
over 40 years. As a result, it pre-
vents the American people, act-
ing through their state and local
officials, from making impor-
tant choices about workplace
governance. And it does so by
weaponizing the First Amend-
ment, in a way that unleashes
judges, now and in the future,
to intervene in economic and
regulatory policy. …
The majority has overruled
Abood … because it wanted to
pick the winning side in what
should be—and until now, has
been—an energetic policy de-
bate. Some state and local gov-
ernments (and the constituents
they serve) think that stable
unions promote healthy labor re-
lations and thereby improve the
provision of services to the pub-
lic. Other state and local govern-
ments (and their constituents)
think, to the contrary, that strong
unions impose excessive costs
and impair those services. Amer-
icans have debated the pros and
cons for many decades—in
large part, by deciding whether
to use fair-share arrangements.
Yesterday, 22 States were on one
side, 28 on the other (ignoring a
couple of in-betweeners). Today,
that healthy—that democratic—
debate ends. The majority has
adjudged who should prevail.
And maybe most alarming,
the majority has chosen the win-
ners by turning the First Amend-
ment into a sword, and using it
against workaday economic and
regulatory policy. Today is not
the first time the Court has
wielded the First Amendment in
such an aggressive way.… And
it threatens not to be the last.
Speech is everywhere—a part of
every human activity (employ-
ment, health care, securities trad-
ing, you name it). For that rea-
son, almost all economic and
regulatory policy affects or
touches speech. So the major-
ity’s road runs long. And at
every stop are black-robed rulers
overriding citizens’ choices. The
First Amendment was meant for
better things. It was meant not to
undermine but to protect demo-
cratic governance—including
over the role of public-sector
The Janus decision will reduce
the income of unions represent-
ing an estimated 5 million state
and local government workers
in 22 states plus the District of
Columbia and Puerto Rico. In
those places, workers who
choose not to become union
members have been paying fair
share fees that typically amount
to 80 percent of full union dues;
now they’ll pay nothing. The
other 28 states had no provision
for mandatory union fees.
Public employee unions
could see the Janus decision
was coming, and have had time
to get ready by reaching out to
represented workers to commu-
nicate why becoming a union
member is important.
But the public employee
unions also have a new adver-
sary. Groups like the Freedom
Foundation — financed by a
small group of billionaire-sup-
ported foundations — paid for
the Janus lawsuit, and now are
trying to capitalize on it by ap-
pealing directly to union-repre-
sented public employees to drop
out of their unions.
On the day the Janus ruling
was announced, the Freedom
Foundation said it sent emails to
more than 90,000 public em-
ployees, which it said resulted in
800 workers completing opt-out
forms in the first 24 hours. The
group also said it was immedi-
ately deploying 80 people in
Washington, Oregon, and Cali-
fornia to canvass public em-
ployees outside their work-
Several states with pro-union
governors or legislatures have
taken action to shield public em-
ployees from anti-union propa-
ganda or otherwise soften the
blow of Janus. Oregon Gov.
Kate Brown ordered state agen-
cies that receive public records
requests for large amounts of in-
formation about public employ-
ees to contact the governor’s of-
fice before making the
information public. In Califor-
nia, a new law keeps public em-
ployee phone numbers and
email addresses private. And in
California and New Jersey, new
laws guarantee that unions have
the right to meet with newly
hired public employees.