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Right Wing Weighted Supreme Court Deals Huge Blow To Public Sector Unions
And ultimately the
middle class

June 27, 2018

Chronicle opinion

(NATIONAL) – Love them or hate them, meaning unions, what happened today was as predictable as the sun coming up tomorrow.

As expected by many Americans, a Trump-stacked right wing/conservative majority US Supreme Court ruled that government (public sector) workers can’t be forced to contribute to labor unions that represent workers in collective bargaining.

The justices struck down, on a 5 to 4 partisan vote, an Illinois law that required non-union workers to pay fees that go to collective bargaining.

In a major dissent opinion Justice Elena Kagan wrote, "The First Amendment was meant for better things. It was meant not to undermine but to protect democratic governance—including over the role of public-sector unions."

Conservative Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority said it was all about “freedom of speech,” saying: "It is hard to estimate how many billions of dollars have been taken from nonmembers and transferred to public-sector unions in violation of the First Amendment. Those unconstitutional exactions cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely.”

That ruling is a huge blow to organized labor in this country and will set the middle class further back in the inequality race.

It will also hasten the slow, ongoing demise of the middle class as unions were one of the pillars that helped create the middle class. The past 40 years have proven one thing: as unions go, so go the wages and benefits of millions of Americans and ergo, the middle class.

Ironically, public sector unions remain the last stand, the only place left in American society where unions have significant strength to counter the extreme power of the state and in the private sector, rich corporations and billionaires.

It is important to understand that what the court did is kill a 41-year-old decision that had allowed states to require that public employees pay at least some fees to unions that represent them, even if the workers choose not to join and even though those same workers benefit from the things that unions do for workers in general in that particular environment such as creating a base wage in the market that employers almost always spread to non-union workers as well, in order to be remain competitive in the marketplace for good talent.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued a statement on today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that says in part:

“Once again, this conservative-majority court sided with anti-worker forces and issued a ruling designed to undermine public sector unions...by compromising the ability of law enforcement, sanitation workers, educators and other public employees to collectively organize, this court and these special interests are taking us backwards to a time when workers had to resort to enormously disruptive strikes and walk-outs in order to make their voices heard. “The reality is that all workers benefit from strong unions and their bargaining activities. "

You see, the fact is that unions are a necessary component to the raw, nasty, dog-eat-little guy type of capitalism that is practiced in America but not in advanced, intelligent democracies like you’ll find in many Scandinavian and European countries.

Unions are also like handguns. A lot of people may not need a gun in their lifetime. But when YOU PERSONALLY DO need a gun...nothing else will do.

Second blow to labor this year from Trump’s Supreme Court

This is the second blow this year the Supreme Court has dealt to unions. The first one was in May when the Trump-weighted court issued a 5-4 decision (again on partisan lines) in Epic Systems v. Lewis which allows employers to deprive their workers of their right to sue collectively. That takes food money right out of the mouths of working class families.

Its ruling, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, “blasts a massive hole through post–New Deal labor law, hobbling employees’ ability to recover in court when their employers underpay them,” said a report at Slate.com titled, "Neil Gorsuch Just Demolished Labor Rights: His decision, a frontal attack on the New Deal, effectively legalizes wage theft."

The Slate story says (correctly) it’s hard to overstate how devastating the ruling in Epic Systems is to labor rights in this country and just how far “Gorsuch strays from federal law in order to implement his preferred economic policy.”

So you union guys and other working class folks who voted for Trump thinking he was looking out for your best interests – hope you enjoy the continued and now accelerated full death rattle of the middle class that will follow in the years to come.



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