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The Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO joins with its affiliates and the AFL-CIO in condemning today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court against working people.

By a 5-4 margin, the court in Janus v AFSCME Council 31 held that public sector workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement but who choose not to belong to the contracted union do not have to pay for any of the non-political work done on their behalf. (A previous ruling allowed non-union members covered by a collective bargaining agreement to not have to pay for political efforts.) Under federal law, unions are obligated to represent all workers at a contracted location whether or not they join. Years ago, unions implemented a policy called “Fair Share” to recoup non-political costs from those non-members covered by a contract.

“We stand with our brothers and sisters directly and indirectly affected by this decision,” stated MTD President Michael Sacco. “We will not allow the Court’s action to deter us from fighting for the rights of workers.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka declared, “The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Janus v AFSCME Council 31 abandons decades of commonsense precedent. In this case, a bare majority of the court, over the vigorous dissent of four justices, has conceded to the dark web of corporations and wealthy donors who wish to take away the freedoms of working people.

“Until it is overturned, this decision will be a political stain on what is intended to be the most honorable, independent body in the world. But more importantly, it will further empower the corporate elites in their efforts to thwart the aspirations of millions of working people standing together for a better life.”

Trumka added, “But here’s the thing: America is heading in a different direction. All over the country, workers are organizing and taking collective action as we haven’t seen in years. More than 14,000 workers recently formed or joined unions in just a single week [in April]. This followed a year where 262,000 workers organized and the approval rating of unions reached a nearly 14-year high. Working families know the best way to get a raise, better benefits and a voice on the job is through a union contract. The corporate narrative of the labor movement’s downfall is being dismantled by working people every single day.

“We have never depended on any politician or judge to decide our fate and we aren’t about to start now,” Trumka vowed

Many MTD affiliates weighed in immediately after the decision, including the union at the heart of this decision.

“Unions will always be the most effective force and vehicle to propel working people into the middle class,” stated Lee Saunders, President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). “Despite this unprecedented and nefarious political attack – designed to further rig the rules against working people — nothing changes the fact that America needs unions now more than ever.”

“On May 25, President Trump issued a series of executive orders targeting federal employees’ collective bargaining and due process rights. And now the Supreme Court has issued a decision that jeopardizes union rights and protections for millions of public sector workers at the state and local levels, and here in the District of Columbia,” said J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees.

“On behalf of the wealthiest one percent and special interest groups, the Supreme Court has attempted to strike the death knell for public sector unions, but the workers themselves will ultimately decide their own fate,” Cox proclaimed. “Workers know the importance of unions in the workplace and they will survive. We need to come together as workers and use this as our moment to stand up, join the union, and organize like never before. Every worker can use their voice to fight for better working conditions and fair representation by joining the union.”

Speaking on behalf of the International Association of Fire Fighters, President Harold Schaitberger announced, “The Janus v AFSCME Council 31 case was pushed by forces that want to take away the voices of Fire Fighters and the power of all public employee unions.  The intent is to handicap unions in our ability to improve members’ lives and to weaken the political power of public employees.

“We know the potential negative impacts that could come from the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus, however we are ready to take the best punch and deliver some blows ourselves to those that want to see Fire Fighters and their unions weakened.”

He went on to say, “While the Janus decision is another attack on organized labor, every attack can be turned into an opportunity, and we are determined not to let this decision hold us back from our important mission.”

International Association of Machinists International President Robert Martinez Jr. told his members, “The Janus decision is just the latest tactic of corporations and wealthy donors who want to take away our freedom at work. The radical right will never defeat a wave of working people joining together for a better life. Union membership is growing and we will continue to organize, mobilize and defeat those who want to destroy unions and silence workers. Working people are going to fight back.”

From Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton: “The right-wing attack on union fair share fees is all about making it more difficult for working people to defend themselves when corporations abuse their power. Today’s decision is an attempt to further concentrate power in the hands of the wealthy few by taking away resources from working people who are represented by unions.

“But there’s something happening here in America,” Shelton pointed out. “Union members will show them that nothing can stand in the way of working people standing together. We call on elected officials at the local, state and national level to stand with working people and make it easier for them to join together in unions.”

On behalf of the United Steelworkers, its president, Leo Gerard, stated, “Make no mistake, this case was an attack on unions, working people and the causes that the Labor Movement fights for every day. But no court case will stop unions and their supporters from fighting back against efforts to weaken and divide us.

“This attack on public sector workers, including teachers and emergency service personnel, must be a wakeup call for all union members and their supporters to stand with our brothers and sisters,” Gerard concluded.

“This attack on public sector workers, including teachers and emergency service personnel, must be a wakeup call for all union members and their supporters to stand with our brothers and sisters,” Gerard concluded.

In his response, United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts stated corporations and their allies “view this decision as a big victory in their long-term effort to destroy working families’ power and silence our voices. But I have confidence that in the end, the corporate elitists will fail. American workers understand that their rights are under attack and will respond.”

President Richard Lanigan of the Office and Professional Employees International Union intoned, “Despite today’s ruling, working people and their unions won’t be silenced. Instead, as we’ve seen demonstrated throughout the country, working people and their unions are standing together stronger than ever and fighting for their rights to a decent wage, equitable workplace, strong healthcare and a dignified retirement. In states throughout the nation, workers are organizing and taking collective action like we’ve never seen before, and no Supreme Court decision is going to stop that momentum.”

Commenting for the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, International President Newton Jones said, “We live in an era of extreme income inequality, and unions are the last hope to ensure good jobs, fair wages, pensions and other benefits. American workers will see the Janus decision for what it is – an unbridled attack by union haters on the rights of working people to have a voice on the job and to negotiate with their employers for a better life. We are fully engaged in this fight for worker rights and the future of the middle class.”