U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Anti-Worker Janus Case

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The U.S. Supreme Court announced Thursday it will hear Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, an attempt by massive corporations and the wealthiest 1 percent to rig the system even further in their own favor.

Janus is the culmination of decades of attacks on working people by corporate CEOs, the wealthiest 1 percent and the politicians who do their bidding. They’ve teamed up to deliver yet another well-funded attack by striking at our freedom to come together in strong unions. Janus would make the entire public sector “right-to-work” in one fell swoop.

“This case is yet another example of corporate interests using their power and influence to launch a political attack on working people and rig the rules of the economy in their own favor,” AFSCME International president Lee Saunders said in a joint statement by AFSCME, AFT, NEA and SEIU – our nation’s four largest public sector unions. “When working people are able to join strong unions, they have the strength in numbers they need to fight for the freedoms they deserve, like access to quality health care, retirement security and time off work to care for a loved one.”

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The merits of AFSCME’s case are clear. Since 1977, a previous case called Abood has effectively governed labor relations between public sector employees and employers, allowing employers and employees the freedom to determine labor policies that best serve the public. When reviewing the legal merits of this case, it is clear that this attempt to manipulate the court against working people through Janus should be rejected.

“For decades corporate CEO’s and the wealthy have fought to enrich themselves at the expense of the rights and pocket books of working people, and that harms families in communities across the country,” said Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association.

“The anti-worker extremists behind this case want to divide working people, make it harder to pool our resources and limit our collective power,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union.

“These powerful interests want to gut one of the last remaining checks on their control ˗ a strong and united labor movement that fights for equity and opportunity for all, not just the privileged few,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

The forces behind Janus are the same forces that have pushed to limit voting rights, attacked immigrants and undermined civil rights protections.

The Janus case started with an overt political attempt by the billionaire governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, to attack public service workers through the courts. Janus is part of a nationwide campaign. In a letter to supporters detailed in “The Guardian” newspaper, the CEO of the corporate-backed State Policy Network revealed the campaign’s true intent: to strike a ‘mortal blow’ and ‘defund and defang’ America’s unions.

Our unions have played a critical role in building and protecting the middle class in America. They provide hardworking people economic stability for our families, and give us the tools to build a good life, home and education for ourselves and our children. Our unions give us a collective voice to advocate for policies that benefit all working people, like an increased minimum wage, affordable health care, safe roads and bridges, and great public schools.

These wealthy special interests and CEOs don’t want working people to have the collective power to level the economic and political playing field. They do not believe working people should have the same freedoms and opportunities as they do: to negotiate a fair return on our work, provide for our families and make our communities better and safer places to live for all.

“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 Stephen Mittons, a member of AFSCME Council 31 in Illinois. “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.”

In Philadelphia, teachers went through a lengthy contract fight to protect students’ basic needs like making sure kids had textbooks and that there’s at least one nurse and counselor in each school, said Philadelphia teacher Jeff Price, an AFT Local 3 member.

“We had to fight back against the district's desire to eliminate class sizes and get lead testing for the school's water fountains,” Price says. “Most people assume that our union only fights for teachers' rights, when in reality, most of our contract is there to protect the basic rights and needs of our students. Those rights are at grave risk in Janus."

In California, SEIU Local 99 lifted the minimum wage to $15, protected and expanded health care benefits and won more funding for schools, says custodian and member Edna Logan.

“Together, we’ll continue to fight to ensure all students have the support and services they need to succeed in school. That’s why the extremists are attacking us, to stop our progress,” Logan says. “But we plan to stick together no matter what and keep standing up for quality public services."

Learn how the right-wing is funding this attack on unions:

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