Supreme Court On Unions


The Supreme Court dealt a set back to the effectiveness of unions in protecting the rights of American workers by a 5 to 4 vote in the Janus v. AFSCME case. The decision indicated that government workers may not be required to help pay for collective bargaining if they choose not to join unions. Yet, the overwhelming fact that these same employees will benefit from the gains of the collective bargaining done remains a reality.

Public sector unions throughout the country will reportedly lose millions of dollars in the aftermath of this decision. Justice Samuel A. Alito wrote for the majority of the court by stating: “We concluded that this arrangement violates the free speech rights of nonmembers by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.” While recognizing the devastating financial lost to union representation, Justice Alito continued, “But we must weigh these disadvantages against the considerable windfall that union have received” in the past years. Chief Justices John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch joined the majority opinion.

Justice Neil Gorsuch (President Trump’s replacement) voted with the majority in this case.

Justice Elena Kagan advanced the minority opinion from the bench. She stated: “There is no sugarcoating today’s opinion. The majority overthrows a decision entrenched in this nation’s law-and its economic life- for over 40 years. As a result, it prevents the American people, acting through their state and local officials, from making important choices about workplace governance.  And it does so by weaponizing the First Amendment, in a way that unleashes judges, now and in the future, to intervene in economic and regulatory policy.” Furthermore, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor joined this dissent opinion.

Currently nonmembers are able to receive refunds of payments spent on political candidates, according to union leadership. Additionally, workers who do not pay should not receive the benefits of work for which they do not financially support, leaders also revealed.

The problem with this adverse union decision made by the courts is that limiting the power of unions has politically appeared as a conservative sport.  An earlier case in 2016 ended in 4 to 4 deadlock. Justice Antonin Scalia died not long after the case was presented to the court that year.  Moreover, Justice Alito subsequently summarized the current majority opinion by instructing: “Neither an agency fee nor any other payment to the union may be deducted from a nonmember’s wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay.” While President Trump indicated on his twitter feed that this was a “Big loss for the coffers of the Democrats,” in reality it is most of all a big loss for the working class men and women of our society who deserve the respect and advocacy they pay for as well as the benefits they deserve for the work they do every day for America!!