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Supreme Court ruling undermines union ability to fight for worker rights, groups respond
From press releases
2018-06-27

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From Human Rights Campaign:

WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) reacted to the Supreme Court of the United States' decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 ( AFSCME ). The court voted 5-4 against AFSCME, undermining the ability of unions to fight for workers' rights. HRC joined with coalition partners in the LGBTQ movement in filing an amicus brief in support of workers and their right to organize.

"Today's decision is a devastating blow to working people," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "Unions have long played a vital role in strengthening families and advancing LGBTQ equality in the workplace. Nurses, social workers and teachers use their voice to stand up for LGBTQ patients, parents and students every day. HRC will continue to fight alongside our partners in the labor movement in the face of ongoing attacks from the Trump-Pence administration."

Janus v. AFSCME was widely considered the most consequential legal case for workers' rights in a generation. The case was centered on the right for public employees to come together and advocate for themselves through collective bargaining. Today's ruling undermines public employees' ability to come together to raise their voices in a strong union. Over the years, unions have advanced critical rights and secured benefits for all workers including affordable health care, paid leave, higher minimum wages, and crucial non-discrimination protections.

The history of the labor movement is bound with advances for civil rights and human rights. Labor leaders have been prominent voices in the fight for marriage equality and the ongoing effort to end discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Through collective bargaining, unions have made it possible for LGBTQ workers to exercise crucial rights. Union collective bargaining agreements started banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity as early as 1974 — long before those protections were enshrined in state laws or enforced by federal courts. In the absence of clear, guaranteed federal employment protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, these contracts remain critically important.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

From Pride at Work

Washington - Today, the Supreme Court ruled against working people in unions in Janus v. AFSCME by declaring that the fair share fees unions charge to non-members for the services provided in negotiating and servicing the collective bargaining agreement violate freedom of speech. Pride at Work Executive Director, Jerame Davis, reacted strongly:

"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.

"Corporate CEOs and billionaires have funded this case as a means to destroy the unions that working people have built in order undermine the basic freedoms of working people. Unions are the best way to stand up to corporate greed and unrig our economy and political system. LGBTQ working people lose greatly in this decision as well. In more than half the country, it is legal to fire an LGBTQ person solely based on their identity. A union contract is the only protection LGBTQ workers can attain against such discrimination and this ruling puts even those protections in jeopardy.

"But working people built unions out of struggle, and in worse environments than this. There are unions that are thriving in Right to Work states — just ask the Culinary Workers Union that almost shut down Las Vegas earlier this month. Working people can and are fighting back. This decision issues a very clear message to all working people: get organized and fight."

Pride At Work organizes mutual support between the organized Labor Movement and the LGBTQ Community for social and economic justice. We seek full equality for LGBTQ Workers in our workplaces and unions and we organize in the spirit of the union movement's historic motto, "An Injury to One is An Injury to All." Learn more at www.prideatwork.org


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