New York, NY – As the U.S. Supreme Court continues to hear oral arguments in the anti-union “Janus” case, New York City public school educators say they are sticking with their union.
“The Janus case is bankrolled by right-wingers who want to cut salaries, dictate working conditions and roll back 50 years of hard won civil and workers’ rights,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers. “That’s why they going after one of the remaining institution that stands up to them — unions. But educators aren’t falling for it. We are sticking with our union.”
What is the Janus v. AFSCME case now before the U.S. Supreme Court?
Mark Janus, an employee of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, has about $46 deducted from his paycheck every month to cover the collective-bargaining expenses of AFSCME, the union that represents employees at his state agency. Although Janus is not a union member, by law he receives all the rights and benefits under the contract the union negotiated for workers at his agency.
Janus’ lawsuit, funded by deep-pocketed right-wing organizations like the National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation contends that the collection of these agency or fair-share fees from nonmembers is unconstitutional because it violates their First Amendment free-speech rights. Fair-share or agency fees may not go for the union’s political expenditures, but the groups attacking unions argue the collective bargaining process itself in the public sector is inherently political.
Unions argues the Janus team is pushing a distorted interpretation of free speech and that their real goal is to damage the financial strength of public-sector unions.