September 28, 2017

Wealthy attack worker freedom

The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would decide Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, a lawsuit that aims to take away the freedom of working people to join together in strong unions to speak up for themselves and their communities. 

The billionaires and corporate special interests funding this case view unions as a threat to their power, so they are trying to get the U.S. Supreme Court to rig the system even more in favor of those already at the top. This case started right here in Illinois when billionaire Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner attacked public service workers through the courts.

Rauner originated this case in a lawsuit he filed against AFSCME Council 31 to try to weaken our union by banning Fair Share fees in state government. When the federal court said Rauner didn’t have standing to bring such a suit, he found a lone state employee—Mark Janus—to allow the legal challenge to proceed in his name.

“My work as a Child Protection Investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is vital to the safety of our state’s most vulnerable children and families,” said AFSCME Local 2081 member Stephen Mittons. “This court case is yet another political attack on the freedom of my colleagues and I to speak up to ensure that we can safely and adequately manage our caseloads, which reflects our commitment to safety and public service to our communities.”

“The forces behind this case know that by joining together in strong unions, working people have the voice they need to level the economic and political playing field,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said. “Billionaires like Bruce Rauner are trying to rig the rules to take more power and influence for themselves.”

“Working people joined together in unions have a different vision: One in which we have the freedom to form strong unions, helping to foster prosperity that’s shared by all; in which public employees are able to continue to provide the vital services that our communities rely on; and in which the tax system is truly reformed to ensure that the wealthy pay their share.”

In a letter to anti-union supporters, CEO of the corporate-backed State Policy Network (SPN) reveals the true intent of the nationwide campaign of which the Janus case is a part: to strike a “mortal blow” and “defund and defang” America’s unions.

The case’s lack of merit is clear. Since 1977, a unanimous US Supreme Court ruling (Abood) has effectively governed public sector labor relations, allowing employers and employees the freedom to determine labor policies that best serve all concerned. When reviewing the legal issues in this case, it is clear that this attempt to manipulate the court against working people should be rejected.

“The Janus case is a blatantly political and well-funded plot to use the highest court in the land to further rig the economic rules against everyday working people,” said members and leaders of the country’s four largest public sector unions—AFSCME, AFT, NEA, and SEIU. “The billionaire CEOs and corporate interests behind this case, and the politicians who do their bidding, have teamed up to deliver yet another attack on working people by striking at the freedom to come together in strong unions and negotiate a fair return on their work.”


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