Unions Rally Against Janus

Paul Bass PhotoAs a move to crush government unions landed at the U.S. Supreme Court Monday, labor activists took to New Haven’s City Hall steps to declare their determination to fight on, whatever the outcome.

The occasion was the presentation of oral arguments before the court in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The plaintiffs in that case seek to overturn an Illinois law requiring public employees represented by a union to pay fees to cover bargaining costs incurred on their behalf whether or not they join and pay dues. A victory would nullify 20 similar laws nationwide and potential decimate the power of government unions, the labor movement’s last redoubt. Conservative groups have pushed for decades to reverse such laws; the Supreme Court’s right-wing majority is expected to rule in the plaintiffs’ favor.

The plaintiffs argue that mandatory-fee laws breach workers’ First Amendment free speech rights by forcing them to pay for a cause they don’t support. Campaigns funded by business owners appeal to workers to hold off paying union dues or fees to exercise their free-speech rights.

At the New Haven rally, speakers like Harold Brooks characterized the case — and the broader anti-union “right to work” movement — as an effort to in fact deprive workers of rights by crippling unions that can fight for better wages, health benefits, and working conditions.

“Right to work was created by segregationists and union-busters” to “rig the economy” in the favor of the wealthy, declared Brooks, vice-president of AFSCME Local 3144, which represents city government management and professional workers.

“The Supreme Court case is a ploy to take away our rights as union workers” and “protect the super-rich” by balancing budgets “on the backs of working people,” echoed District 1199 member Denitra Pearson of New Haven. (Click here to read a New York Times article on who’s funding efforts like this case.)

Mayor Toni Harp, one of the founders of Local 3144, argued that “all who are in your unions should pay their dues if they benefit.”

The rally drew about 100 supporters. It was one of four simultaneous noon-hour demonstrations across the state organized by a coalition of unions to protest the Janus case; the others took place in Hartford, Stamford, and Storrs. (Click here to read Christine Stuart’s account of the Hartford rally.)

Newhallville Alder Delphine Clyburn spoke of belonging to District 1199 “for 30 years” and being “proud to pay my dues. I understand why I need to pay them.”

Fellow Newhallville Alder Kim Edwards has belonged for 22 years to the Communication Workers of America, which she currently serves as a steward.

“My union is my family,” she declared to the crowd. “My union is my voice, to make sure my children are taken care of, to make sure there is gasoline in my car” and her family has health care.

Beneath the surface there was an acknowledgement that unions may indeed lose this round at the Supreme Court, the latest in a year-plus of labor setbacks.

The last wave of speeches included calls to keep fighting to recover and rebuild, to guard against the next round of proposed legislative and legal givebacks.

“This is the result of 40 years of work by the other side,” New Haven Association of Legal Services Attorneys President James Bhandary-Alexander said of the Janus case. “We have 40 years of work to turn the tide.”

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posted by: CT DRV on February 26, 2018  3:35pm

“Ten thousand times has the labor movement stumbled and fallen and bruised itself, and risen again; been seized by the throat and choked and clubbed into insensibility; enjoined by courts, assaulted by thugs, charged by the militia, shot down by regulars, traduced by the press, frowned upon by public opinion, deceived by politicians, threatened by priests, repudiated by renegades, preyed upon by grafters, infested by spies, deserted by cowards, betrayed by traitors, bled by leeches, and sold out by leaders, but notwithstanding all this, and all these, it is today the most vital and potential power this planet has ever known, and its historic mission of emancipating the workers of the world from the thraldom of the ages is as certain of ultimate realization as is the setting of the sun.” -Eugene Debs, 1904

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 26, 2018  4:13pm

No big deal.There are states that already passed laws to prevent unions from collecting payments from non-members. Public employees still organize in those states. Florida, for example, has had such a law for more than 70 years, but AFSCME still has more than 60 locals in the state.If the court sides with Janus, then non-members of public unions would not have to pay union fees.But the good thing is you would still have collective bargaining and worker representation.Plus Joseph McCartin, a public policy professor at Georgetown University and the executive director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor said.it’s simply too soon to predict how a ruling in favor of the plaintiff in the Janus case would affect public-sector unions; that, he explains, depends on how union leaders adapt to this new environment.Agency fees, McCartin points out, were actually instituted back in the 1970s, a time of growing public-sector union membership and increasing militancy, in an effort to stabilize labor relations. State lawmakers believed, in McCartin’s words, that if “unions were more financially secure, they would become less militant and less short-term in their focus.” In the absence of union fees, McCartin wonders if unions might once again start “taking on fights that help them build and keep a loyal membership in an environment where no one is required to support the union that bargains for them.“Striking down agency fees might actually encourage public unions to become a social movement again, as they were in the late 1960 and early 1970s before such fees existed.Now the unions that will take more of a hit are the one’s in the Private Sector.

posted by: LookOut on February 26, 2018  5:19pm

So, union members, here are your hard earned dollars at work.  Union leaders attempting to grab power for the purpose of giving themselves power.  The only surprising thing about the Janus case is that it took so long to happen….is it really an American value to have forced membership in anything?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 26, 2018  5:50pm

posted by: LookOut on February 26, 2018 4:19pm
So, union members, here are your hard earned dollars at work.  Union leaders attempting to grab power for the purpose of giving themselves power.  The only surprising thing about the Janus case is that it took so long to happen….is it really an American value to have forced membership in anything?

Is it really an American value to have free riders who do not pay one dimeBut who benfit from the gains that the union get for members.

posted by: LookOut on February 26, 2018  8:04pm

@threefifths   you asked “Is it really an American value to have free riders?...”

Hmmm, welfare, public housing, food stamps….what do you think?

posted by: Bill Morico on February 26, 2018  9:08pm

Re: “forced” Union dues, no one is forcing any worker to take a job where a Union represents the workers. Or do they really know that the reason that a particular employer’s wages/benefits/conditiions are better than others is because the workers are represented by a Union?

posted by: Mooks on February 26, 2018  9:58pm

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 26, 2018 3:13pm
..........Now the unions that will take more of a hit are the one’s in the Private Sector.

Private unions are not going to be impacted by this case at all. Janus’ argument is that fees for collective bargaining are political since salary and benefits directly impact state budgets and taxpayers. He claims that the fees are therefore forced speech that he does not agree with and violates his 1st amendment rights.  If SCOTUS agrees with him, it would only impact public unions like AFSCME and the AFT, not private sector unions as these bargaining negotiations are not political in any way.

posted by: Noteworthy on February 26, 2018  10:29pm

Hysteria Notes:

1. This rally was pointless and unnecessary. There is great confusion over the efficacy of the endless parade of the pampered and protected special interests constantly running to prostrate themselves at the public steps to power elites. They’re preaching to the choir who reliably reward them with rich contracts, rubberstamp contracts and all happily agree to pension and health plans which are unsustainable.

2. I hope Janus wins. At least stop collecting money and using most of it to support issues and politicians with one viewpoint. Most of the money collected from union members is not spent on the costs of negotiating new contracts - it’s spent to give union bigs fat paychecks, manipulate politicians and control the political discourse.

3. The public unions have an unholy alliance with Democrats. This state and this city - both operating in chronic deficits and unbalanced budgets in no small part because of public union contracts.

4. Note to Brooks: Segregationists? Really?! lol

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 26, 2018  10:34pm

posted by: LookOut on February 26, 2018 7:04pm

@threefifths   you asked “Is it really an American value to have free riders?...”

Hmmm, welfare, public housing, food stamps….what do you think?

What do I think.Lets us take a look at these free riders?

1)Welfare.How about Corporate Welfare,Which government bestowal of money grants, tax breaks, or other special favorable treatment for corporations.In fact Most of the pigs at the government trough are among the biggest companies in America.

Farm Subsidies
However, the largest fraction of corporate welfare spending, about 40%, went through the Department of Agriculture, most of it in the form of farm subsidies.

Wal-Mart.  Always high subsidies. 
The same is true in all other industries, too. The government gives tons of favors to the largest corporations, increasing the significant advantage they already have over smaller competing businesses. If, in the court of public opinion, Wal-Mart has been tried and convicted for the murder of main street, mom-and-pop America, then the government could easily be found guilty as a willing accomplice. Wal-Mart receives hundreds of millions of dollars of subsidization by local governments throughout the country

Lockheed Martin

The world’s largest defense contractor received a generous $220 million gift from Connecticut taxpayers to keep its Sikorsky Aircraft division in the city of Stratford. The offer from Gov. Dannel Malloy includes grants of up to $8.6 million a year for 14 years

Artists Eyed For $40M “Clock Shop Lofts”How about these goodies.

The Harp administration is also seeking approval of a tax abatement agreement for the project, under guidelines in a state affordable housing law, freezing taxes at the current rate for 15 years after construction ends. The complex currently pays $46,000 a year in taxes to the city.

Part One.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 26, 2018  10:39pm

Part Two.

Food stamps

look at who benefit more from food stamps.

The More Americans That Go On Food Stamps The More Money JP Morgan Makes.

JP Morgan is the largest processor of food stamp benefits in the United States.  JP Morgan has contracted to provide food stamp debit cards in 26 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.  JP Morgan is paid for each case that it handles, so that means that the more Americans that go on food stamps, the more profits JP Morgan makes.  Yes, you read that correctly.  When the number of Americans on food stamps goes up, JP Morgan makes more money.  In the video posted below, JP Morgan executive Christopher Paton admits that this is “a very important business to JP Morgan” and that it is doing very well.  Considering the fact that the number of Americans on food stamps has exploded from 26 million in 2007 to 43 million today, one can only imagine how much JP Morgan’s profits in this area have soared.  But doesn’t this give JP Morgan an incentive to keep the number of Americans enrolled in the food stamp program as high as possible?


what do you think?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 27, 2018  8:15am

posted by: Mooks on February 26, 2018 8:58pm

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 26, 2018 3:13pm
..........Now the unions that will take more of a hit are the one’s in the Private Sector.

Private unions are not going to be impacted by this case at all.AFSCME does have Private Sector.People in there union.

Organizing Private Sector Workers — Completing the Circle

AFSCME councils across the country have taken up the challenge to organize the private sector to improve the quality of treatment services in the community-based programs, and to promote more equitable wages and benefits among workers. To do this, workers had to overcome workplace intimidation by employers, union-busting activities, and unreasonable layoffs and firings. As a result of the tireless efforts of organizers and courageous workers who refused to be intimidated, significant elections have been won, and contracts negotiated and ratified. AFSCME’s fight to raise the quality of services for the patient and improve workplace conditions goes on.

Organizing Illinois’ Private Community-Based Services
Council 31 continues to score victories in their battle to organize privately run community-based mental health and MR/DD programs. Since its first major victory in winning an NLRB election in 1994 to represent nearly 400 workers in a private ICF/MR with over 300 beds, AFSCME continues to push to increase its membership in the private industry.


posted by: win win on February 27, 2018  3:36pm

Yes free riders still get union benefits and union representation but without paying a dime for it, which means they’re not only leaching off the system, they’re weakening the very representation they’re relying on.

This impacts you whether or not you’re a public sector worker; it threatens our democracy and weakens wage earning for all workers (union decline has lead to a new gilded age of inequality and an all out assault on democracy by the mega rich like the Koch brothers), it threatens workplace safety leaves corporate power unchecked

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 27, 2018  6:37pm

@win win

I agree with you.That is why I wrote what I wrote.