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Union Groups Look to Democrats to Fight Back After Janus

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Thursday, June 28, 2018   

CHICAGO – Dealing a serious financial blow to Democratic-leaning organized labor, the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling Wednesday that government workers can't be forced to contribute to labor unions has labor groups calling on Democrats to rally together.

The case involved Illinois state government worker Mark Janus, who argued that everything unions do, including bargaining with the state, is political and employees should not be forced to pay for it.

In a 5-4 decision, the high court sided with Janus, giving a win to conservatives who've long fought against unions.

Emma Tai, executive director of the independent political group United Working Families, says the ruling was not a surprise to her.

"The real question is whether the Democrats will fight back,” she states. “In the middle of protection for workers, protections for women, protection for immigrants, people of color being stripped away by the high court, Democrats have been chasing their tails in a debate about civility. "

The ruling is being praised by conservative groups, which consider it a big win for workers and the protection of their First Amendment rights.

A recent study by Frank Manzo of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and Robert Bruno of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign estimated that public sector unions could lose more than 700,000 members over time as a result of the ruling and that unions also could suffer a loss of political influence that could depress wages as well.

Tai says she thinks that was the plan all along.

"This was a Supreme Court decision that was specifically designed by the people who have raked in the profits from a rigged economy to weaken collective efforts to fight for good jobs, good schools, safe communities, breathable air," she states.

The court's conservative majority, re-empowered by Justice Neil Gorsuch, upends a 41-year-old decision that had allowed states to require that public employees pay some fees to unions that represent them, even if the workers choose not to join.


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