The Supreme Court’s Fatal Attack on Public-Sector Workers

Photo by Supermac1961 | CC BY 2.0

The courts have always been an instrument of plutocratic power. But the war against American workers has intensified in Trump’s America. With its recent rulings, Harris v. Quinn (2014) and Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (2018), the Supreme Court has set American workers’ rights back decades. Through these cases, the court is hammering the final nails in the coffin of organized labor, threatening what little remains of unionization in America. While just 11 percent of Americans are members of a union – most of which are in the public sector – the Janus case threatens to destroy what little remains of the economic foundation of state and local unions. A full collapse of unions in America appears to be increasingly likely in its aftermath.

The Harris case was a prelude to Janus, with the Supreme Court ruling that home care workers could opt out of paying “fair share” union dues. Under state law (at least before the Janus case), all employees operating in a union workplace were required to contribute to these dues. The logic behind these forced payments was simple: since all workers (whether in the union or not) are protected by the union’s collective bargaining agreements (which secure pay raises and other benefits for employees), all should be compelled to pay their “fair share” in helping secure those benefits. With Janus, fair share union laws have been overturned for all…

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