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Kentucky Workers Rally Ahead of SCOTUS Labor Case

A US Supreme Court ruling could weaken the power of organized labor. Arguments are being heard next week in the case, Janus v. AFSCME. (Takver/Flickr)
A US Supreme Court ruling could weaken the power of organized labor. Arguments are being heard next week in the case, Janus v. AFSCME. (Takver/Flickr)
February 23, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Hundreds of Kentucky workers will join others from around the country on Saturday for rallies they say are meant to defend the American dream.

On the Working People's Day of Action, they're calling for equitable pay, affordable health care, quality schools and vibrant communities. The national event is just a couple of days before the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in Janus v. AFSCME, a case that challenges the right of unions to collect fees from nonmembers.

As president of the Greater Louisville Central Labor Council of the AFL-CIO, Todd Dunn contends there are corporate interests with their own agenda behind the case.

"That agenda does not include the basic rights of human beings to be able to work, have a fair playing field, be represented and take care of themselves and their families, without having things taken away from them with a stroke of a pen," says Dunn.

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the plaintiff, opponents argue that employees would benefit from the work of unions without paying for that representation, which Dunn says would weaken the power of organized labor.

The Louisville rally begins at 11 a.m. Saturday at the United Auto Workers hall.

Dunn says the day of action will include public leaders, activists, women's organizations, civil-rights advocates, clergy and others who support the work unions do for all workers.

"This rally may not win the 'war on labor,' but might allow us to live another day to win one more small battle,” he says. “And as long as we can come together and realize that, it's a pretty powerful thing, if you ask me."

Dunn says Kentucky workers will stand in solidarity with those in more than two dozen cities. That includes Memphis, Tenn., which marks the 50th anniversary of the historic sanitation workers' strike. It was the last campaign stop for Martin Luther King, Jr., before his assassination.

"We'll be defending the freedoms that Dr. King fought and died for; talking about the basic rights of labor unionists and the citizens of the Commonwealth, even if they're non-union; and our responsibility to continue the voice for working men and women that otherwise wouldn't have that voice," says Dunn.

King spoke before thousands of workers striking to protest poor working conditions and pay on Apr. 3, 1968. He was killed the next day.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY