Only a fool would try to deprive working men and women of the right to join the union of their choice.”
– President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Republican, Sept. 15, 1952
New Jersey Democrats are once again called on to address damage done in Washington.
This morning, as you know, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that government workers who choose not to join a union cannot be charged for the cost of collective bargaining. Another 5-4 decision to lay at the feet of Mitch McConnell, who froze out Merrick Garland, President Obama’s pick for the high court after Justice Antonin Scalia died, denying him denied a confirmation, leaving the seat open until Trump became president and selected conservative Neil Gorsuch. Mark Janus is a child support specialist at the Illinois Department of Healthcare & Family Services, who objected to monthly fees going to AFSCME taken from his paycheck, which he did not join despite the fact the union was there to protect his rights as a worker. Today’s decision the power of unions to organize and demand fair treatment. Black women in particular may be hurt by the Janus decision, as they are disproportionately represented in public sector jobs.
Two years ago, the Court heard a similar case, but deadlocked after Scalia’s death, which gave public-sector unions a 2-year reprieve. In that case, President Obama sided with the unions; in this case the Trump administration backed Janus and those who also wanted the benefits of the union protecting their rights, but didn’t want to pay for it. Janus himself claims not to be anti-union, but he was represented by the anti-union National Right to Work Foundation and Liberty Justice Center.
Here are statements today from Gov. Phil Murphy, NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, and Labor Commissioner Rob Asaro-Angelo.
“This disappointing decision does not in any way diminish our administration’s commitment to protecting the right of public sector employees to organize. We stand firm with our labor unions and labor organizations to advocate and protect members’ rights as we did with the Workplace Democracy Enhancement Act I signed in May. Supporting strong unions is a critical part of making New Jersey’s economy work for everyone.” – – Gov. Phil Murphy [link added]
“The very first amicus brief I signed as Attorney General was one in support of workers’ rights in Janus v. AFSCME. I was proud to stand with labor on this crucial issue and remain so today. In New Jersey, we’re charting a path to protect workers even as the federal government turns away from them.
“At the Attorney General’s Office, we will use our legal authorities to continue vigorous enforcement of state laws that protect workers’ rights to organize and to engage in collective bargaining, Nothing about today’s decision changes that.” – – NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal
“This decision is a travesty for working men and women everywhere, particularly here in New Jersey, where workers’ right to organize is protected by our state Constitution. The decision undermines the ability of working people around the country to receive the respect and appreciation they deserve. Despite this ruling, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development is committed to working with our sister government agencies to protect workers’ rights, secure their safety, and ensure the dignity that work provides.” – – NJ Labor Commissioner Rob Asaro-Angelo-Angelo