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#Union

by Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers

Right-wing groups have been waging war against public sector unions for many years, and, last week, a divided 5-4 conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court handed them a win in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31. This case, which overrules decades of precedent, was about stripping unions of resources, with the ultimate aim of eradicating labor unions altogether. Why was this such a prized goal for these right-wing groups? Because unions help level the imbalance between the rich and powerful and everyone else, and help working people get ahead.

Stamping out unions has long been the aim of many wealthy conservatives, because it’s easier for them to win elections, maintain economic dominance, and disempower workers when individuals can’t collectively improve their lives through the strength and solidarity of a union.

Janus’ supporters argued that the “fair share” fees nonmembers pay for union representation violate their First Amendment rights, even though workers have the right not to join a union or pay for any of the union’s political work. Justice Elena Kagan dismissed the majority’s opinion as “weaponizing the First Amendment,” noting that the same argument was raised—and unanimously rejected—41 years ago in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, a precedent the Supreme Court has upheld six times. With this reversal, public employees who benefit from a collective bargaining agreement but choose not to join the union can opt to be “free riders” and not contribute anything for the benefits they receive, while the union must still represent them….

keep reading and follow copious links at American Federation of Teachers