STATEMENT: On the Supreme Court Janus v. AFSCME Decision

HARRISBURG — Keystone Research Center Executive Director Stephen Herzenberg andPennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Director Marc Stier made the following statement regarding today's Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision:

“In a 5-4 decision that resulted directly from the [evasion of constitutional responsibility and] abuse of power that led to the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch, the United States Supreme Court today took another step to rig our economy and our politics against working families and to further diminish the collective rights of working people. By reversing the longstanding precedent set in the 1977 Abood case, the Janus decision makes the entire United States public sector a ‘right to work for less’ country with the stroke of a pen. The decision deprives unions of any financial support from non-members who nonetheless benefit from union representation and collective bargaining to improve wages, benefits, and working conditions. The decision violates a fundamental principle of democracy, that all those who benefit from common action — in this case work of their union — and that have a right to guide that action by voting for their union leaders have a responsibility to pay their share for those benefits. The decision concludes a deliberate and single-minded effort to reduce the resources unions have to organize, to bargain on behalf of their members, and to promote public policies that benefit all working people – such as a higher minimum wage, health care for all, an adequate and sustainable Social Security system and so on.

“It is telling that in a country where President Trump gained support from many working people by acknowledging the reality that the economy is rigged against them, the President and the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate nominated and confirmed a judge who supports weakening workers’ freedoms and who voted predictably with the one-vote majority in this case. Nationally and in Pennsylvania, when income and wealth inequality yawn as wide as at any point since 1776, it is stunning that the Court has seen fit to tilt our economy and politics further to the advantage of the 1% and big corporations.

“The Janus decision is a teachable moment that makes crystal clear that the President and the Congressional majority are enemies of working families. Working people and their allies need to take this lesson to heart – and to redouble their efforts to organize on the job and in politics to restore an economy that works for all and democracy responsive to typical families and the public good. In the face of the orchestrated decades-long attack – of which the Janus case is just one small part – policymakers that support working people and unions need to step up their game. They need to voice their outrage, to more forcefully have workers’ back when they show the courage against the odds to exercise their fundamental freedom to organize, and to advance policies at the local, state, and national level that strengthen workers’ freedoms and can restore a balance of power within our country and economy that benefits ALL of us, including the 1%.”