The Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) railed against the Supreme Court’s decision on Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, sentiments echoed by the Writers Guild of America East and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees unions.
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on Wednesday ruled that government workers who choose not to join unions may not be required to help pay for collective bargaining, per the New York Times. As a result of the 5-4 decision, public-sector unions could lose tens of millions of dollar in funding.
“Wrong decision,” SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris, who serves as a vice president on the AFL-CIO’s executive council, said afterward. She also called the ruling “shameful.”
The decision means those who are eligible but choose to not join a workers’ union do not have to pay its union dues. Unions do not agree with the notion as they argue these non-union workers still enjoy union benefits.
“The Court made the wrong decision; a decision in favor of increasing the power of employers at the expense of their workers. Without engaged workers, union protections become more vulnerable,” said Carteris (pictured above) in a statement. “This ruling is a direct attempt to weaken unions, the very organizations who allow workers to speak together as one, to have a voice in their wages, their safety at work, and their healthcare and retirement. The Supreme Court’s decision directly overturns a decision made by the Court in 1977. Have workers lives improved so much that unions can now be so blatantly attacked? Are workers all better off now? Are employers sharing in their success with all those who make them successful? No.”
“This shameful decision only serves to strengthen our resolve to find ways to protect working families in this country,” she continued. “Now more than ever as professionals, we must come together and renew our commitment to speak as one. To be strong in the face of all attempts to minimize us. We know that fighting for a better life for you and your family is what unions do. It’s time for unions, and the workers who make them vibrant and strong, to show this court and those who would attack and diminish working people that this is unacceptable. When workers come together, workers win, and that did not change today.”
SAG-AFTRA is not alone in its firm opposition. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees joined the vocal dissension.
“This terrible decision is a sign of our times and the political mess in which we find ourselves,” IATSE International president Matthew D. Loeb said. “Soon, all working people, not just those in the public sector, will face the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s actions, in the form of diminished bargaining rights and weaker contracts.”
“This is a dark day for all of organized labor, but we can and we must continue to press back against this ongoing assault,” he continued. “We must continue to grow and strengthen our unions through organizing, no matter what the laws are. We didn’t need permission to fight back against the robber barons of the Gilded Age, and we do not need it to fight back against the robber barons of today.”
The WGA East is also on board with being decidedly not on board with the SCOTUS ruling. Here is the Writers Guild Association East’s full remarks:
“We should harbor no illusions about this terrible decision: it was the product of raw power politics, not constitutional deliberation. The Koch Brothers and their hard-right-wing allies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in recent decades to undermine the ability of working Americans to fight for themselves, to have a voice on the job, to win terms and conditions of employment that make it possible to support a family and pay the bills.”
“The Janus decision is part of a cynical scheme (which included the U.S. Senate’s stunning refusal to consider a nominee to replace Antonin Scalia in 2016) to deprive public sector labor organizations of the basic ability to sustain themselves, financially. Score one for the plutocrats, who have won an ugly victory at the expense of the people who build our roads and teach our children and fight our fires.”
Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, No. 16-1466, was brought forward by Mark Janus, a child support specialist who works for the state government in Illinois. He sued the union, saying he does not agree with its positions and should not be forced to pay fees to support its work.
The conservative justices on the Supreme Court agreed, overturning the decision in 1977 case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.