Contributed By: Jordan Lam, Referral Specialist
From paid maternity leave, to child labor laws, sick leave, and paid vacation, practically all of the rights that we consider standard practice today were once fought for by labor unions around the country. Regardless of whether or not you are involved or affiliated with your local labor union, the work that unions do for employees in the United States is the sole reason that workers have even the limited protections they have today.
Labor unions do not only work to improve the experience of those active in their unions, but they also work to further the rights of workers everywhere, embodying the mantra of Power in Numbers and acting as the final guardian of workers’ rights and safety against the corporate race to blindly cut all costs, with no regard for the damage that these cuts might inflict.
Managing Partner Sam Pond discusses recent Janus ruling on his Legal Eagles Radio Show.
With that being said, a recent Supreme Court ruling dealt a heavy blow to the unions of America, and with them the workers that they represent. The case Janus v. AFSCME just decided that those who benefit from union representation are not required to pay a fee for that representation, meaning that the funding that unions receive, and need to continue their work, is going to be greatly diminished. Although this is being touted as a victory for the First Amendment, it is important to view this case in the context of who is supporting it in order to get a good understanding of what’s to come next.
Not wasting any time after this judgement, the conservative nonprofit Freedom Foundation, which is supported by the Koch brothers and a flurry of other conservative donors including the United States Secretary of Education Betsy Devos, is said to be sending 80 people to California, Oregon, and Washington to convince workers to abandon their union representation. These efforts have been planned for quite some time: Freedom Foundation began acquiring lists of workers and identifying public figures to feature in anti-union videos in February. Since then, they have been creating info materials to help local governments that support anti-union sentiment. The goal of the campaign is to shrink union membership by 127,000 members in the three states—and to offer an example for similar efforts targeting unions around the country.
Let’s call it what it is: the Janus ruling and the follow-up efforts taking advantage of it are attacks on our unions. By knocking away the funding of labor unions, the Kochs and their corporatist allies knock away a leg of the stool that protects and empowers their workers. Unions are THE primary method of defense against big business acting without regulation…against mines collapsing, against drywallers inhaling asbestos.
We can’t allow more Janus’. Together, we must ensure that future labor forces enjoy all of the same protections as they do today, and more. The truth is stark…without labor unions, tomorrow’s workers will have no more rights than the machinery they operate.