U.S. Supreme Court Case Seeks to Take Away Union Rights

A case the U.S. Supreme Court is taking up this term called Janus v. AFSCME could make the entire public sector “right-to-work” in one fell swoop.

Janus is the culmination of decades of attacks on working people by corporations, the wealthy and the politicians who do their bidding to rig the economy in their favor. The forces behind this case are the same ones that have pushed to limit voting rights, undermine civil rights and attack immigrants.

Their goal with Janus is no secret. They want to use the Supreme Court to take away the freedom of working people to join together in strong unions, because unions give workers power in numbers to speak up for themselves, their families and their communities. Unions help hardworking people build a good life with economic stability.  

A recent article in The Guardian highlights how this case is part of a blatant multi-million dollar campaign to weaken, “defund and defang” labor unions. Corporate special interests know that unions are the best vehicle that working people have to level the economic playing field for all Americans.

The Liberty Justice Center, the legal arm of the right-wing Illinois Policy Institute, is arguing on behalf of Illinois state employee Mark Janus that state employees should not be forced to pay union dues. 

Lawyers for AFSCME Council 31 in Illinois insist these "fair share" dues only fund collective bargaining efforts, not political activities. 

The case was heard by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on March 1, 2017, and was granted a review by the U.S. Supreme Court on Sept. 28. A possible ruling is expected between April and June of 2018. 

The Takeaway:

  • The Janus case is a purely political scheme to further rig the economy against working people by striking down our freedom to come together in strong unions. Wealthy special interests want to take away our ability to speak up for ourselves, our families and our communities, and to improve our workplaces.
  • Strong unions are vital to unrigging this economy because they improve all communities and the lives of union and non-union members alike. Unions raise wages and advocate for policies that improve life for union and non-union workers.
  • Strong unions advocate for equal opportunity for women and communities of color who have been systematically disadvantaged due to discrimination and prejudice. Women, African Americans and Latinx union members all earn more than workers who aren’t in unions. Economic justice and civil rights are inextricably linked.