Workers Flock to Unions Following Janus Ruling

7-11-2018
New AFSCME member Todd Bennington calls unions “one of the remaining bulwarks protecting working people from complete economic exploitation.” (Photo courtesy of Todd Bennington)
New AFSCME member Todd Bennington calls unions “one of the remaining bulwarks protecting working people from complete economic exploitation.” (Photo courtesy of Todd Bennington)

When the Janus decision came down, billionaires, big business and their anti-worker think tanks licked their chops, predicting the end of unions.

But workers across Minnesota are proving them wrong.

Since the June 27 U.S. Supreme Court decision, 339 people have joined AFSCME Council 5. They decided to become full members to support their union, their co-workers and their communities.

Dr. Seymour Gross, a senior clinical psychologist at Hennepin County Mental Health Center, is among them. He was fair-share for many years. But then the Supreme Court ruling against unions and workers came down. He called the ruling “awful” and “harmful.”

“After the Supreme Court decision, I figured that joining was what I could do,” he says. “I believe in the benefits of unions. Politically, that is being attacked. And now with Trump, I want to reinforce the idea that it is a good thing to do, just the principle there is some ability to have power with authority that may not always be considerate.”

Gross says he supports unions because they give workers a voice with management and power in numbers.

The Janus decision was what alerted Hennepin County principal planning analyst Todd Bennington that he wasn’t a full member. Like many people, he thought he already was one because he believed joining was automatic. After the court ruling, he immediately became a member of AFSCME Local 2864 to “affirm the importance of unions and union representation.

“Unions are one of the remaining bulwarks protecting working people from complete economic exploitation,” Bennington says. “I also worry that, particularly among professional staff, too many feel like such representation and workplace protections aren't needed anymore, which is very naive. 

“The next few years will be difficult ones for most people in this country, and one way that I can do something proactive and positive to minimize that pain is by standing in solidarity with my fellow working Americans as a full AFSCME member,” he says.