Defiant union members and leaders vowed to fight back despite the Supreme Court ruling against public sector unions.
Those fighting for the protection of a union contract like Amy Swenson remain undeterred and in fact feel more resilient. She is a longtime employee with the Seward Community Co-op and unionization advocate. “We are going to be more galvanized from this and thank you to all the Seward Co-op members who are supporting us right now.” Swenson further explained that “bargaining has been very tough and has been going on for a long time. However, we are looking forward to a contract that gives workers equality and strength in the workplace. “ She notes that part of the importance of a contract is to stabilize the workforce at Seward, “the turnover rate is the highest I have ever seen in my time working at Seward.” Swanson and others want improvements so they can offer a better experience for consumers and the owners of the Seward Community Co-op.
Fast-food worker Shannon Jackson of Detroit shares Swenson’s enthusiasm.
“We’re going to keep organizing and fighting to make our workplaces, our communities, and our nation better. It’s how a handful of fast-food workers in New York grew into a global movement and won raises for over 23 million people – and it’s how we’ll win today.”Jackson stated in an email. “No billionaire, corporation, or court has ever stopped us from fighting for $15/hr and union rights – and it’s not about to happen today,”
Jerame Davis, executive director of the AFL-CIO’s constituency for LGBTQ workers Pride at Work, explains that “After spending billions of dollars to steal a Supreme Court seat, corporate CEOs and billionaires got what they paid for today. The partisan majority on this Court has decided that the corporate interests that put them have greater rights than the American people. The right to organize is a fundamental freedom that must not be abridged. This decision is a major setback for working people all across the nation, regardless of whether they are part of a union. Just as they authorized the Muslim Ban yesterday, this Supreme Court has proven that it will stop at nothing to divide and weaken us,” said.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, “In this case, a bare majority of the court, over the vigorous dissent of four justices, has conceded to the dark web of corporations and wealthy donors who wish to take away the freedoms of working people,”
In Minnesota, union leaders made the following statements regarding Janus v AFSCME
Brian Aldes, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 320: “The Teamsters union has faced stiff adversity from anti-union forces since its inception over 100 years ago and we have always persevered. We have seen the war on workers intensify in the last several years, but working people will not be deterred, will not be intimidated and will not be silenced. We will move forward and unite because workers, students, and communities need us to be strong.”
Mary C. Turner, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association: “This ruling is an attempt to silence working people’s voices, but nothing can stop nurses from standing up for patients in our hospitals and other facilities, and in our communities. Nurses will continue to advocate for quality patient care in the public and private sectors. We will not let this ruling enable hospitals to cut corners to increase their bottom lines at the expense of patients’ health by reducing staffing levels or investing in life-saving equipment.”
Jim Grabowska, president of the Inter Faculty Organization: “The Trump administration and the Supreme Court have proven they will stop at nothing to diminish the power of working people in our communities. The corporate special interests behind this case are drastically underestimating working people’s resiliency and determination. Our union takes great pride in helping provide opportunities for students around our state to receive an affordable, world-class education, with highly qualified faculty. We will continue our mission, and this ruling will only strengthen our resolve to advance the needs of our students, our colleagues, and our communities.”
One union leader on national press conference call with the Teachers, the Service Employees, AFSCME and the National Education Association said pro-worker lawmakers would introduce legislation this week to make organizing public workers easier. There were no details, however.
“It’s perfectly clear working people can’t get a fair hearing before the corporate-controlled Supreme Court,” AFSCME President Lee Saunders told the press conference. “We are recommitted to mobilizing and organizing. This was about corporate CEO’s and wealthy
Professional and Technical Engineers Secretary-Treasurer Paul Shearon envisions a militant worker-oriented future.
“In the short run, the Janus decision may hurt some unions financially, but in the long run, it will serve to make unions and their members more militant and force a stronger culture of internal organizing. The recent statewide teacher strikes demonstrate that when public sector workers face limitations on their bargaining rights they take their case to the streets,” He said.
Communications Workers President Chris Shelton agrees that,“ there’s something happening in America…Our public worker membership is growing, even in states like Texas that prohibit collective bargaining for public employees. We’ve stood in solidarity with teachers and other public employees in many different states walking out and standing up to special interests – and winning.”
In a statement, Economic Policy Institute (EPI) described what the future might hold fold for workers,
The recent teachers’ strikes in states like West Virginia and Oklahoma provide important examples of the effect of denying workers the right to effective collective bargaining. As more workers are forced to resort to tactics outside of traditional collective bargaining to preserve their wages and benefits, they will do so under the court’s newly conceived First Amendment doctrine, which will undoubtedly evolve in the coming months and years as additional cases are filed challenging its outer limits. This may prove problematic for those determined to strip workers of their rights—they may ultimately usher in a new era where workers in this country rediscover their voice.