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Wealthy elite aim to silence working people via Friedrichs


(Nov. 24, 2015) — The Supreme Court will hear arguments soon in a case that could undermine the rights of working people to negotiate collectively for better wages, benefits and working conditions.

supreme-court-frontEvery working person should care about this case, even if it doesn’t personally affect you. This legal battle is just the latest in a series of attempts by wealthy conservative groups to dismantle every program, service, or law that benefits working people. A win for the Koch Brothers here will make it that much harder to fight the next battle.

The case at issue is called Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. It’s an attempt by anti-worker groups to overturn a nearly 40-year-old Supreme Court decision that affirmed the constitutional right of public sector unions to collect fees from employees who choose not to join the union but nonetheless benefit from all of the protections that the union negotiates.

Here’s why that matters. We are living in a time where America’s economy has swung out of balance. Everyday Americans are working more than ever, but the only ones benefiting are those at the top of the economic ladder. It’s getting harder for working people to get by, let alone get ahead.

Unions are one of the few groups advocating for the interest of working people. If we make it harder for unions to do their job, working people will lose a major ally in the fight to build an economy that works for everyone, not just the richest 1 percent.

Teachers, firefighters, nurses and other public sector workers deserve to have advocates fighting on their behalf for better working conditions. Improving their jobs makes it easier for them to deliver quality services to the public.

If we silence the voice of working people at the job site, our public services will suffer and our communities will suffer as a result.

The Supreme Court must reject this attempt by wealthy special interests to make it even harder for working people to come together, speak up for one another, and get ahead.

AFGE-Cox-JDavidJ. David Cox Sr. is national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents more than 670,000 federal and D.C. government employees nationwide. This column, which originally appeared at Huffington Post, is posted at The Stand with the author’s permission.

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