This Supreme Court Case Could Change Unions Forever

Categories: Labor, The Insider

The richest 1 % of American households now own 40% of the country's wealth, and they’re fighting tooth and nail to keep it that way. That’s why we see corporate-backed politicians doing everything they can to take away our voice, our rights, our freedom to join in union. The recent massive tax cuts for the rich and budget cuts for the rest of us are a reminder that this is indeed an attack on democracy itself.  

AFGE members stand in solidarity with working men and women across the country to fight back the power grab by these wealthy few who’ve rigged the rules in their favor. We took part in the Working People’s Day of Action on Feb. 24 and the Janus v. AFSCME rally on Feb. 26 to stand against corporate-controlled interest groups that are trying to dictate policy outcomes.  

Janus v. AFSCME (more like corporatocracy v. democracy) 

Corporate America fears a strong labor movement. That’s because strong unions set a pay standard that nonunion employers follow. Labor unions play an important role in securing rights and protections such as health and safety, family and medical leave, overtime, and fair treatment. Working people who join together in unions tend to receive higher wages, more affordable health care, and more secure retirement.  

But the wealthy don’t want workers to come together and negotiate for a better life. They and their mouthpieces in state legislatures have succeeded in weakening our voice in the private sector with the right-to-freeload laws. And now they’re coming for us in the public sector.  

An important case pending in the Supreme Court, Janus v. AFSCME, is an example of how these special interests are trying to destroy the labor movement and our democracy. The Court on Feb. 26 heard arguments on the case, and the current makeup of the court could spell bad news for working people everywhere. 

In a nutshell, the justices are deciding whether to grant the right to freeload to nonunion members.  

Currently, nonunion members who don’t pay dues but enjoy the negotiated benefits of union membership such as pay raises and better health and retirement packages are required to pay a fair-share fee. The Supreme Court will decide whether it’s okay for them to get all these benefits without paying a dime. 

If the supremes rule against AFSCME, the right to freeload will extend to public sector employees nationwide. Unions will lose resources, which means working people will likely see a pay cut, have to pay more for health insurance, and are less likely to have any money saved up for retirement. Good jobs will disappear. The rich will get richer, and the rest of us are left fighting for the scraps.  

What can you do? 

 Ask your coworkers to join a union! It’s the most powerful way to fight back and send a message that they cannot destroy us. The union is everyone. It is as strong as we want it to be. So join a union today and protect our freedom to fight for fair compensation, affordable healthcare, and retirement security! 

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