Labor in Washington state vows to stand strong as Supreme Court imposes anti-union ‘right-to-work’ restrictions on nation’s public employees
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 27, 2018) — Well, the fix was indeed in at the Supreme Court. But no court decision is going to stop Washington’s working families from joining together to negotiate for good jobs and fair treatment.
On Wednesday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-anticipated decision in Janus v. AFSCME and, as expected, ruled 5-4 along ideological lines to impose so-called “right-to-work” restrictions on public employee unions nationwide. That means all state and local governments and all public employee unions will be banned from agreeing to fair-share provisions in their contracts, and those unions will be required to represent non-members, even if they don’t pay a penny to support the effort.
TAKE A STAND — Union members and community supporters are urged to participate in Wednesday’s Union Strong rallies and sign-waving and show your support for your union on social media. Download and print your Union Strong sign. Take selfies with co-workers and post on social media using #UnionStrong and #FreedomtoJoin and/or use graphics found here.
Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO President Jeff Johnson and Secretary Treasurer Lynne Dodson issued the following statement this morning:
The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO strongly condemns the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn 40 years of legal precedent and impose so-called “right to work” restrictions nationwide. This case was promoted and financed by right-wing billionaires and corporate elites with the goal of undermining the freedom of working people to join together and negotiate a fair return for their work. Their efforts will fail.
Now more than ever, working people understand that they need unions and strength in numbers to fight for a balanced economy. This is particularly true for our proud public employees. These are our family members, friends and neighbors. They teach our children, care for the sick and elderly, keep our communities safe, maintain our roads, and provide many other essential public services. They know they need strong unions, not just because it makes life better for themselves and their families, but also so they can advocate for their students, their patients, and the public they serve.
Public employees are derided as “government bureaucrats” by the rich and powerful interests behind this court decision. They want to divide and weaken workers so they can pay lower wages and turn back the clock on workers’ rights. They want to rig the economy further against working people.
No court decision will stop us from fighting for good jobs, safe workplaces, affordable health care, and dignity at work for everyone. Today, we recommit not only to sustaining Washington’s labor movement, but to building a stronger one. In this economy, working people must stick together in strong unions to demand better wages and benefits. The unions of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO will redouble efforts to guarantee the freedom to join, stand and negotiate together.
Stay tuned to The Stand for more analysis of today’s Janus decision.
Because the fix has been in on the Janus decision for more than a year, WSLC-affiliated unions have been preparing for it by doing what they do best: organizing. Only now, those efforts are being focused inward to get existing members to commit to sticking together for good wages and strong contracts.
The WSLC hosted a statewide Labor Summit in February to prepare for the post-Janus world. Union leaders, staffers and stewards from across the state gathered to find out what their peers are doing to keep their unions strong and share best practices for re-engaging members. Local unions say that this work is inspiring their members and staffs. Some report that it’s galvanizing their unions to fight harder and become more militant in the face of these blatantly political attacks.
“We are committed not only to sustaining the labor movement in this state, but also to building and strengthening it so more working people can negotiate a fair return for their hard work,” said WSLC President Jeff Johnson. “No court decision is going to stop us from joining together to fight for good jobs, safe workplaces, equal pay for women and dignity at work for everyone.”
The day the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Janus case, hundreds of union members throughout the state expressed their solidarity in a variety of ways. They rallied, did banner drops, leafleted, or simply wore their union colors to work. The message: when we stand strong in our unions, we have the power to win for our communities and our families.