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Public Employee Press

The war on working families

U.S. Supreme Court will hear anti-union case


The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear arguments in a case that has sent shock waves through the American labor movement.

At stake is whether U.S. public employees will be able to continue to hold onto our hard-won freedoms to organize and negotiate collectively for wages and benefits.

A decision in the case, Janus v. AFSCME District Council 31, is expected by next summer.

If the court decides to ignore more than 40 years of established law and legal precedent and rule against the AFSCME council, it will subject public employees to a national “right-to-work” law that over time will lower wages and stifle the voices of workers.

The Janus case is the latest in a series of court cases funded by the anti-union Right to Work Foundation and allied right-wing groups, supported by the 1 percent as part of an unrelenting political campaign to break the U.S. labor movement. (See Right-wing aims to deliver the “mortal blow” to unions)

Now that the Janus case will be decided by the highest court in the nation, union-busters are comforted by the presence on the court of ultra-conservative Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who was appointed earlier this year by President Donald J. Trump to fill the seat left vacant by the 2016 death of Antonin Scalia.

Scalia’s death blunted the previous assault on labor, by forcing a 4-4 tie two years ago in a similar anti-union case. However, with Gorsuch, who has already achieved notoriety for his outspoken, regressive views, unions must be prepared to face the challenges posed by Janus.

Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, DC 37’s national union, is defiant and upbeat. “The merits of the case, and 40 years of Supreme Court precedent and sound law, are on our side,” he said.

As PEP goes to press, the Supreme Court has yet to set a date for oral arguments but is expected to hold a hearing by February of next year.