Janus v. AFSCME
The Facts About the Janus Case
A U.S. Supreme Court case called Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 threatens our union and all working families. This case, which will come before the Supreme Court in February, represents a huge threat to our union. As a local leader, you are critical to how we defend and protect our union, our members and public services in the face of this threat.
This lawsuit aims to take away the freedom of working people to join together in strong unions to speak up for themselves and their communities. In February, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case and a decision is expected by the summer.
What is this case really about?
The case aims to erode the freedom to form unions to improve our lives and the communities we serve. Real freedom is about making a decent living from our hard work; it’s also about having time to take a loved one to the doctor, attend a parent-teacher conference and retire in dignity. The corporate special interests behind this case do not believe that working people should have the freedom to negotiate a fair return on their work.
Who is behind this case?
The National Right to Work Foundation is part of a network funded by corporate billionaires to use the courts to rig the rules against working people. For decades, these wealthy elites have used their massive fortunes to gain outsized influence to chip away at the progress unions have won for all working familes. Now they want the highest court in the land to take away our freedom to come together to protect what our communities need: a living wage, retirement security, health benefits, the ability to care for loved ones and more.
How do unions benefit our communities?
People in unions continue to win rights, benefits and protections for all working people and their communities. When public service workers belong to strong unions, they fight for staffing levels, equipment and training that saves lives and improves the public services our communities rely upon. And when union membership is high, entire communities enjoy higher wages.
What are fair share fees, and why are they important?
Unions work because we all pay our fair share and we all benefit from what we negotiate together. Fair share fees provide public service workers with the power in numbers they need to negotiate better wages, benefits and protections that improve work conditions and set standards for everyone.
Each public service worker chooses whether or not to join a union, but the union is still required by law to represent and negotiate on behalf of all public service workers – members and non-members alike. All employees receive the wage increases, benefits and workplace rights negotiated through the union.
The corporate special interests behind this case want to take away our ability to build strength in numbers. That is why they want the Supreme Court to rule that workers can receive all the benefits of a union contract without contributing anything in return. All workers should chip in their fair share to cover the cost of representing them.
Is anyone ever forced to join a union or pay for politics?
No. The simple truth is that no one is forced to join a union and no one is forced to pay any fees that go to politics or political candidates. That is already the law of the land. Nothing in this case will change that. This case is about taking away the freedom of working people to join together, speak up for each other and build a better life for themselves and their families by undermining their ability to form strong unions.
What is the real impact of this case?
When working people have the freedom and opportunity to speak up together through unions, we make progress together that benefits everyone. The wealthy elite behind this case are trying to use the highest court in the land to take away our freedom to create the power in numbers to secure better lives for ourselves, our families, our communities and our country by undermining our ability to form strong unions.
If fair share fees are struck down, employees who benefit from the gains that the union makes will not have to pay anything toward the cost of that representation. If the billionaires and corporate CEOs behind this case get their way, they will take away the freedom of working people to come together and build power to fight for the things our families and communities need: everything from affordable health care and retirement security to quicker medical emergency response times.
REPOST: Supreme court to take up anti-union Janus case this term
The U.S. Supreme Court today accepted a case called Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, which would make the entire public sector “right-to-work” in one fell swoop.
Janus – which the nation’s highest court will take up in the October 2017-June 2018 term – is a blatantly political and well-funded plot to use the highest court in the land to further rig the economic rules against everyday working people.
The forces behind this case know that by joining together in strong unions, working people are able to win the power and voice they need to level the economic and political playing field. However, the people behind this case simply do not believe that working people deserve the same freedoms they have: to negotiate a fair return on their work.
A recent article in The Guardian highlights how this case is part of a blatant, years-long campaign to weaken unions. In a letter to supporters detailed in The Guardian, the CEO of the corporate-backed State Policy Network (SPN) reveals the true intent of a nationwide campaign of which Janus is a part: to strike a “mortal blow” and “defund and defang” America’s unions.
This case started with an overt political attempt by the billionaire governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, to attack public service workers through the courts. The merits of the case are clear. Since 1977, a Supreme Court case called Abood v. Detroit Board of Education has effectively governed labor relations between public sector employees and employers, allowing employers and employees the freedom to determine labor policies that best serve the public.
When reviewing the legal merits of Janus, it is clear that this attempt to manipulate the court against working people should be rejected.
AFSCME and three other public service unions – the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the National Education Association (NEA) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) – issued a joint statement today opposing Janus.
“This case is yet another example of corporate interests using their power and influence to launch a political attack on working people and rig the rules of the economy in their own favor. When working people are able to join strong unions, they have the strength in numbers they need to fight for the freedoms they deserve, like access to quality health care, retirement security and time off work to care for a loved one,” said AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders. “The merits of the case, and 40 years of Supreme Court precedent and sound law, are on our side. We look forward to the Supreme Court honoring its earlier rulings.”
Stephen Mittons, a member of AFSCME Council 31, also commented on the Janus case.
“My work as a child protection investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is vital to the safety of our state’s most vulnerable children and families,” Mittons said. “This court case is yet another political attack on the freedom of my colleagues and I to speak up to ensure that we can safely and adequately manage our caseloads, which reflects our commitment to safety and public service to our communities.”