Dems, Labor Blast Ruling on Public-Sector Unions
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Supreme Court ruled this morning that public-sector unions can’t collect “fair-share” dues from nonmembers, a decision that has drawn ire from union leaders and Democrats.
The case, Janus v. AFSCME, ruled that workers who are represented by public-sector unions but choose not to join do not have to pay dues. Such unions are required to bargain for everyone they represent, regardless of if they are members.
“Labor unions built this country,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, in a release. “This Supreme Court decision will eviscerate public-sector labor unions and hurt the hardworking men and women who depend on them and the collective bargaining rights for their quality of life.”
In a separate release, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, added, “Today’s decision by this anti-worker Supreme Court is an attack on workers’ freedom to advocate for themselves. … This decision is shameful and it’s a setback.”
State. Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-33 Boardman, echoed Brown’s comments, calling the decision “a major setback.
“Janus was not a grassroots effort by everyday people. This decision is a direct and strategic attack on organized labor, and it will affect our local communities members the most, including our teachers, nurses, firefighters and police officers,” Schiavoni said.
As of this posting, neither U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R- Ohio, nor U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio, had issued statements on the ruling. In Pennsylvania, Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, and U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly had not released comments either.
Also criticizing the 5-4 court ruling were the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the International Association of Firefighters, the AFL-CIO and the SEIU.
“This decision is yet another example of how billionaires and anti-worker politicians rig the system against working people, but SEIU members won’t let the extremists behind this case divide us,” said Becky Williams, president of SEIU District 1199. “We are committed to supporting union and not-yet-union workers who want to join together for greater financial security for their families and stronger communities.”
District 1199 covers Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky.
Tim Burga, president of the Ohio AFL-CIO, said, “This decision comes just as millions of workers across the country are recommitting to unions with new organizing drives and growing ranks in important sectors of our economy right here in Ohio. Public support for labor unions has risen to its highest level in years.”
The executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Ai-jen Poo, noted the impact the ruling will have on women of color. It impacts 17 million workers nationwide, 18% of whom are black women, according to the union.
“This decision is a blow to every working person that has ever felt unheard, unseen or hurt at the hands of unchecked power,” Poo said. “By cutting workers’ collective organizing power, especially that of women, we increase vulnerability to wage theft, sexual harassment and discrimination.”
Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, said the Supreme Court decision could serve as a catalyst for the union. The union represents roughly 85% of firefighters and paramedics in U.S.
“While the Janus decision is another attack on organized labor, every attack can be turned into an opportunity,” Schaitbergere said in a statement. “We know the potential negative impacts that could come from the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus. However, we are ready to take the best punch and deliver some blows ourselves to those that want to see firefighters and their unions weakened.”
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.