Organized Labor was dealt a major blow on June 27th when the Supreme Court reversed a 41-year-old precedent allowing unions representing government employees to collect fees from workers who choose not to join.
Following the Supreme Court ruling, dozens of members of Congress, including several Representatives from New Jersey, released statements rejecting the ruling and expressing their support for the rights of working people.
“A union’s whole purpose is to ensure that working Americans have a measure of input over the decision-making process that determines their salaries, their working hours, and what their employers can and cannot demand from them. Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court on Janus v. AFSCME overturns over 40 years of judicial precedent and has endangered future workers’ ability to advocate for themselves,” said Representative Albio Sires (N.J. 8th District).
“Collective bargaining is the foundation of workers’ empowerment, which is why it should be funded by everyone who benefits from it. The Court’s decision today sets back workers’ rights by decades and makes it considerably more difficult for unions to keep advocating for fair pay and fair workplaces.”
Representative Donald Norcross (N.J. 1st District), a union brother who sat at the negotiating table fighting for working families for decades, was outraged by the decision. He stated the goal in the Janus case was to divide workers and silence their voices.
“The corporate interests and dark money behind the case wanted to use the court to rig the economy even more against working people,” Representative Norcross said. “It’s a clear bait-and-switch – they promised public sector workers a quick buck, knowing full well that lower wages will follow.”
Moreover, Representative Norcross claims that in order to make our economy work for all of us—not just the rich and powerful—working people must be able to stick together to gain power to raise wages and improve benefits like health care and retirement.
Similarly, Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (N.J. 9th District) condemned the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Janus v. AFSCME Council 31.
“This decision, part of corporate interests’ decades-long war to destroy organized labor, was delivered courtesy of a stolen Supreme Court seat and a presidential campaign built on lies. Donald Trump campaigned that the system against American workers is rigged,” Representative Pascrell said. “Unions create fair treatment for American workers and higher wages for their families. Now [Trump’s] Supreme Court has worsened prospects for workers in service to radical ideological and political power.”
In a recent study, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that anti-union, so-called “right-to-work” legislation passed at the state level has long been aimed at buoying Republicans and attacking Democrats. Clearly, then, the Supreme Court’s decision was about politics—not workers. About servitude, not freedom.
The period of greatest economic prosperity and equality of opportunity in American history was paved by the hands of organized laborers. Despite this political decision, unions and the right to collective bargaining will remain cornerstones of American life and ultimately lead to the rebuilding of the middle class.
According to Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J. 12th District), the Supreme Court’s decision “ignores decades of legal precedent to undermine the rights and fair pay of teachers, police officers, firefighters and more.”
“This is a watershed moment in the stream of conservative efforts to rig the economy against working families, and I am deeply disturbed by the impact it will have on their ability to negotiate livable wages,” she said. “Unions are essential to a strong middle class; as Republican attacks on them have intensified, we’ve seen wages stagnate and that middle class shrink.”
Representative Chris Smith (N.J. 4th District) also expressed his extreme disappointment in the Supreme Court’s decision in the Janus v. AFSCME case. “In the wake of this wrongful decision, we must find a way to ensure that the interests of all working people are preserved and protected,” he said.
But union workers should not be discouraged by the Supreme Court’s ruling.
The New Jersey AFL-CIO will continue to organize, mobilize, and educate every last worker and our community on the value of unions.