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JLC Deplores Supreme Court's Janus v AFSCME Council 31 Decision

June 27, 2018: New York, NY -- The Jewish Labor Committee deplores today’s decision in Janus v AFSCME Council 31. The Court overturned a 41-year unanimous decision (Abood v. Detroit Board of Education) that held that union “fair share” fees are constitutional. Today, the court ruled that anything that a union representing public employee does to improve working conditions – any effort to improve safety in the workplace, to restrict excessive overtime, to ensure fair wages or otherwise improve workers’ lives on the job – is political and that "fair share" payments to cover these union services are a violation of fee payers’ free speech.

Unions are required by law to represent and negotiate on behalf of all public employees – members and nonmembers alike. So everyone who benefits should contribute to the cost of representational activities like contract negotiations and grievance representation. Before this case, no one was forced to be a union member or pay any fees that fund political activities. Fair share fees enabled employees who didn’t want to contribute in any way towards the union’s political and lobbying activities to pay a lower amount that excluded any dues money spent on such activities.

Non-members will now be able to “free ride” on the dues paid by their coworkers and deprive unions of the resources needed to fight for worker rights in the workplace.

This, of course, is the goal of the network of anti-union and wealthy special interests that was behind this case: to weaken the labor movement. Unions stand up for working people. The goal of the virulently anti-union organizations that pushed this case was in their words to “defund and defang” unions in order to undermine their power.

The court clearly relied more on politics than jurisprudence in deciding this case. We urge all public employees to become union members and stand with their coworkers in the fight for social and economic justice.