Wednesday’s 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, which prohibits public-sector unions from collecting “fair-share fees” covering the cost of representing non-union members, is one of its most partisan decisions of the past half-century. In terms of siding with the economic interests of the über-rich over those of ordinary Americans, Janus is comparable to the Court’s political gift to the nation’s 0.01 percent in 2010’s Citizens United v. FEC.
The Campaign to Undermine Labor Rights
Janus effectively establishes “right to work” (i.e., a prohibition of security agreements that unions negotiate with employers) throughout the public sector. Rather than a stand-alone event, however, the Janus decision should be viewed as the culmination of the right-wing assault on public-sector workers and unions that began with Scott Walker’s election as governor of Wisconsin in 2010. Walker received millions of dollars in donations from out-of-state right-wing billionaires in order to secure his election victories and ensure the success of his anti-union agenda. Over the past several years, Republican lawmakers in Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, Florida, Kentucky, West Virginia, Missouri and elsewhere have continued this assault on public-sector workers and unions.
Negative Consequences From Janus
The Janus decision will likely have several negative consequences. First, millions of public-sector workers will be worse off — likely experiencing a decline in salary of several thousand dollars — as the bargaining power of their unions is diminished. This decline in wages will disproportionately affect women and workers of color, who already are lagging behind in our unequal economy. Whatever amount non-members gain from not having to pay “fair-share fees,” they will almost certainly lose far more in lower base pay and worse benefits.
Second, the pension schemes of millions of public workers will likely suffer a major hit. Several states already have underfunded…