While a narrow and ideologically driven majority on the Supreme Court ruled against working people in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, working people will not allow this attack to silence our collective voices. We will continue to organize and bring our collective voices together in opposition to the ongoing assault on our rights.
Advocates for working people soundly rejected the ruling in Janus. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:
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.
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. 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.
AFSCME President Lee Saunders:
Unions will always be the most effective force and vehicle to propel working people into the middle class. 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. We are more resolved than ever to fight like hell to win for our members and the communities they care so much about. AFSCME members don’t do this work to get rich. They do it because it’s a calling—and for that service, they deserve respect. They deserve the same freedoms as the CEOs and billionaires who continue to rig the rules against everyone else. The American labor movement lives on, and we’re going to be there every day, fighting hard for all working people, our freedoms and for our country.
AFT President Randi Weingarten:
Forty years ago, the court recognized that collective bargaining for teachers and other public sector workers benefits those workers, their employers and their communities. Union representation, if chosen by a majority, is the glue that holds us together. That wisdom has now been abandoned by the slimmest majority. The dissenting justices saw this case for what it really was—a warping and weaponizing of the First Amendment, absent any evidence or reason, to hurt working people. Not only was Abood well within the mainstream of First Amendment law, it has been affirmed six times and applied to other cases upholding bar fees for lawyers and student activity fees at public colleges.
Actors' Equity Executive Director Mary McColl:
Today, the Supreme Court issued a decision that is a blatant attempt to take away the freedom of working people to join together in union. Equity stands with our brothers and sisters across the country who are fighting against a system that is rigged in favor of special interests and big corporations. We will organize. We will hold our elected officials accountable. And we will fight back against efforts to divide us. Every working American has had their lives made better by labor unions. We will not rest while the American worker is being attacked.
AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr.:
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. 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.
When union members pay to negotiate a contract for their workplace, everyone who’s covered by that contract takes home higher pay and benefits, has greater job security, enjoys improved health and safety standards, and gets help in settling workplace disputes.
If you’re covered by the union contract but you don’t belong to the union, it’s time to join your union and pay for the benefits you receive—because those benefits could vanish tomorrow unless workers take a stand and fight for their rights at the worksite.
Air Line Pilots Association President Capt. Tim Canoll:
Throughout the years, one fact remains true for North American workers—the unshakable power of unionism. Unity lies behind our every accomplishment. And together, we’ve accomplished a lot. The unified labor movement built the middle class, and unity remains the key to its survival. Unity also holds the key to prevailing over future challenges—and we will not break.
ALPA stands alongside our brothers and sisters in the public-sector union movement most directly affected by today’s ruling, because we know that this assault against unions will continue across all sectors, including our own. Their fight is our fight, and it is a fight we must and will win. We will continue to work with elected officials to protect workers’ rights and ensure that the value of unions is never forgotten. Unions remind us that the economy exists for people, not the other way around, and remain the link between free markets and democratic rights.
Amalgamated Transit Union International President Larry Hanley:
While this decision is both unjust and, frankly, unfair and stupid, it’s happening at a time workers, especially in right-to-work states—are more conscious than ever of the need to unite and fight back. Recent successful teachers’ strikes in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma have shown what happens when workers’ backs are pushed against the wall....
Their power play has awoken a sleeping giant—organized labor. The labor movement has historically been at its strongest when under attack, and this is the greatest assault in a generation. Workers—whether in a union or soon to be—are more motivated than ever to reclaim what’s been taken from them.
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson:
Today's majority Court ruling is a calling to we the people to fight together for the freedom promised by our forefathers, rightfully claimed by our mothers, sisters and brothers of color, and protected with incredible sacrifice by our fallen soldiers, veterans and active service men and women.
We the people will rise up just like the teachers are doing all over our country, in opposition to the attempt to silence our individual voices by attacking our freedom to join together. We will stand together for our freedoms, our right to a safe workplace with decent pay, and respect for our hard work that contributes to our economy. We will vote, sign our union cards, and encourage flight attendants to talk with their family, friends, and neighbors about the importance of joining together in unions. We the people will form our ‘more perfect union.’
Bricklayers President James Boland:
America needs unions. Our unions represent diverse working people in a variety of sectors, amplify the voices of working people on the job, strengthen democracy, reduce inequality and help middle- and low-wage working people obtain their fair share of our economic growth, reduce wage gaps and increase wages for women and people of color. Because of our unions, our workplaces are safer, and working people's voices are louder.
This decision sends our economy further in the wrong direction, but this alone will not stop our union movement. We are going to keep fighting to organize more working families. We are going to demand elected officials do everything in their power to make it easier for more workers to join unions. We are going to work harder to help more workers join our unions, provide them with good union jobs, and stand up for their rights. Our union movement will only get stronger.
Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton:
But there’s something happening here in America. We’ve seen it from CWA members as workers at Verizon, AT&T Mobility, Frontier Communications, and Momentive Performance Materials have gone on strike and won gains through strong collective bargaining. Our public worker membership is growing, even in states like Texas that prohibit collective bargaining for public employees. We’ve stood in solidarity with teachers and other public employees in many different states walking out and standing up to special interests–and winning....
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.
Electrical Workers International President Lonnie R. Stephenson:
The Supreme Court’s decision in the Janus v. AFSCME case is nothing but an all-out assault on the basic freedom of working people to come together to better their lives and their communities.
This is not just an attack on public-sector workers. It is an attack on every single American who works for a living, and it is only the first step in an effort to repeal every right won by working people in this country.
But while the Supreme Court may attack our rights, it can never stop a movement whose time has come. Across this country, workers are standing up and joining unions in higher numbers than we have seen in many years and the IBEW, along with the entire labor movement, will never stop fighting for the basic dignity and welfare of working America.
Fire Fighters General President Harold Schaitberger:
We represent more than 85% of all professional fire fighters and paramedics in the U.S. because we consistently demonstrate our value, through our strong affiliates, that being union fire fighters provides a significantly better standard of living and safer working environment than those who are not union. We believe that difference will become even more stark, and we are working to represent that small percentage of fire fighters who aren't in our union so that we can raise their standard of living and increase their ability to have a strong voice in public safety.
This case was intended as a political push to eliminate the power of people who work to support their families and the power of their unions. But instead, the Janus case is activating an army of union leaders to better engage their members.
International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Secretary-Treasurer Paul Shearon:
Today’s Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME was based on a bogus free speech argument. This politically motivated case brought by Mark Janus, paid for by corporate interests, was designed to undercut the bargaining power of those employed in local and state government. This wasn’t about free speech—this was about silencing workers’ voices. The justices who supported this slap in the face to public employees and their families, reversing settled law, telegraphed that they are little better than political hacks.
In the short run, the Janus decision may hurt some unions financially, but in the long run it will serve to make unions and their members more militant and force a stronger culture of internal organizing. The recent statewide teacher strikes demonstrate that when public sector workers face limitations on their bargaining rights they take their case to the streets.
Laborers General President Terry O'Sullivan:
The Janus case represents an all-out attack on public sector unions meant to diminish the bargaining power of millions of public sector workers and divide us in the workplace.
Despite the cynical efforts of the anti-worker groups financing Janus, union membership has always and will always strengthen the middle class and help build our nation’s prosperity.
The strong, proud, and united members of LIUNA will continue to stand together and fight together to protect the wages, benefits, and working conditions that come with a union card.
Machinists International President Robert Martinez Jr.:
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. This is war and working people are going to fight back.
Mine Workers International President Cecil E. Roberts:
Make no mistake: They 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.
The UMWA proudly represents thousands of public employees—corrections officers; state, county and municipal employees; police officers; deputy sheriffs; and more. Those workers have sought out UMWA representation because they know their jobs and their lives are better when they are in a union. We prove that to them everyday and this decision will not affect our commitment to them in any way.
National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi:
Although NATCA always has had the duty to represent bargaining unit employees who do not become members nor contribute to their own representation in the federal sector, this is a drastic change for state and local government employee unions who will directly and immediately feel the effects of this decision. We join our union brothers and sisters to take up the fight to protect working people from those who would seek to fracture, split and divide us. Make no mistake, NATCA stands with all of our union brothers and sisters in the labor movement, today and forever.
National Taxi Workers Alliance:
This ruling is unconscionable but may it ring as a wake up call: Collective bargaining gives workers rights to democratic representation and puts legal pressure on the bosses to negotiate fairly. But it's worker organizing that builds unions and our uncompromising militancy that builds power.
Corporations cheering from the sidelines while the highest court in the land guts unions may have forgotten that our nation's labor laws were created largely to quell worker unrest. If workers cannot turn to the law to protect us, we have no choice but to take to the streets.
Office and Professional Employees President Richard Lanigan:
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.
Working people and their unions won’t be slowed by this misguided and politically biased ruling. Instead, our fight continues to join together and unite for our freedoms to achieve a fair and equitable workplace and better future for all Americans.
Painters and Allied Trades General President Ken Rigmaiden:
As a trade union, the Painters and Allied Trades, remains vigilant and very aware that the funding behind this case comes from groups like the National Right to Work Foundation and as private sector union share a symbiotic relationship with our public sector counterparts in AFSCME. Therefore, we understand that the same strategy will, ultimately be applied to our members.
We emphasize to all workers that all elections have consequences and anti-union backers and their legislative cheerleaders can hinder the progress that we have made over the past century in one fell swoop.
We will stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers in sisters in AFSCME, with public sector unions and with all working families across this great country!
The Supreme Court decision today to roll back decades of union and worker rights in Janus v. AFSCME poses a significant threat to patient safety as well as worker and community health and economic standards, said National Nurses United, the nation’s largest union and professional association of registered nurses.
Additionally, “we encourage all non-union workers to join strong unions to protect their right to act collectively to advocate for themselves, their co-workers, and the public well being,” said NNU Co-President Deborah Burger, RN....
“But the architects of this decision have a far larger goal than just hamstringing public unions and workers,” said NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN....
“Nurses will never be silent in the face of this ruling, or in any other threat to our patients, our members, and our communities,” Castillo said.
SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris:
This shameful decision only serves to strengthen our resolve to find ways to protect working families in this country. Now more than ever as professionals, we must come together and renew our commitment to speak as one. To be strong in the face of all attempts to minimize us. We know that fighting for a better life for you and your family is what unions do. It’s time for unions, and the workers who make them vibrant and strong, to show this court and those who would attack and diminish working people that this is unacceptable. When workers come together, workers win, and that did not change today.
School Administrators President Ernest Logan:
The enemies of labor unions think the Janus v. AFSCME case is the beginning of the end of the union movement. They launched this case in a blatant attempt to silence the voices of working people and to limit the freedom that they have.
But their efforts and the Supreme Court's decision today are in vain. No court case will stop hard-working people from organizing and raising their voices. In fact, Janus will be a lightning rod for labor—the powerful corporations and rich billionaires will deeply regret the day they pushed this case forward.
UAW President Gary Jones:
Today’s Supreme Court Janus decision is yet another effort to put obstacles in front of working men and women to join collectively behind the power of a unified voice.
To be clear, labor will survive. But to be equally clear, our elections do matter, as the appointment of conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch by the Republican-led Senate left little doubt about the outcome of this decision. The Janus decision is just another barrier and another attack on working men and women. It cannot, however, take away the powerful voice that UAW members and other unions deliver when they sit across the table and collectively bargain for their families, their safety and their communities.
You cannot silence the voice of so many American families who want a seat at the bargaining table. The UAW and the rest of labor stand together no matter what obstacle.
UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor:
Today, an activist court ruled against the American people and our shared value of freedom and in favor of wealthy corporations. This decision robs power from working families to put it in the hands of corporate elites. Let us allow it to serve as a catalyst to the labor movement for bolder, stronger worker organizing. This ruling is designed to break American workers by putting unfair burdens on us that the corporate elites think we cannot beat—but together we can let it embolden us to organize to greater heights than we have ever before and deliver the tangible victories that transform workers’ lives.
United Steelworkers President Leo W. Gerard:
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 assault on workers was financed by conservative, right-wing billionaires and the organizations they support, including the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, to undermine the labor movement and the quality family-sustaining jobs that have developed over decades of collective bargaining.
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.
We must organize and demand that our elected leaders and political candidates enact public policies that will make it easier, not harder, for people to join unions.
Alliance for Retired Americans President Robert Roach Jr.:
Despite these attacks, organized labor remains strong. In a recent single week in 2018, over 14,000 workers joined or formed a union. Labor organizations have prepared for these continued union threats by building stronger relationships with members, organizing internally and educating the public about what’s at stake - including better wages and safer working conditions.
We have witnessed historic grassroots labor movements and teacher walkouts all across the nation. No matter who tries to bring us down, the Alliance will stand with labor unions to protect active and retired workers' rights throughout the country.
Department for Professional Employees President Paul E. Almeida:
Despite today’s ruling, DPE is confident that professionals will continue to work together to strengthen their communities and workplaces through collective action. We saw a glimpse of professionals’ potential last year when an additional 90,000 professional employees became union members. DPE member unions continue to demonstrate that professionals want to work collaboratively to improve their workplaces. In just the last six months, digital journalists, charter school teachers, nonprofit employees, animatic editors, symphony musicians, public radio announcers, FAA employees, and many other professionals all across the country have joined together in union. We are confident professional employees will continue to see the value of unions and grow the labor movement into the future.
Jobs With Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta:
Today’s ruling continues to reaffirm that a handful of greedy CEOs can rig the rules of the economy and our democracy in their favor. Given the extreme concentration of wealth and power in this country, we should be making it easier and not harder for working people to join together to improve their jobs and their livelihoods.
Despite the disappointing ruling, working people in unions are here to stay. Working people in unions will continue advancing progress in their communities, confronting corporate greed, and transforming workplaces.
Maritime Trades Department President Michael Sacco:
We stand with our brothers and sisters directly and indirectly affected by this decision. We will not allow the Court’s action to deter us from fighting for the rights of workers.
National Black Worker Center Project:
The 5-4 ruling is detrimental blow in the line-up of America’s longstanding discrimination against black workers and the challenges we face.
To be clear, African Americans have as much at stake in maintaining strong unions as anyone with regards to economic security, affordable healthcare and retirement benefits. But, the union advantage disappears with Supreme Court decision and changes the landscape for the 20% of African Americans who work in public sector jobs.
The implications of the Supreme Court siding with Janus in this case means that workers will face the uncertainty of stagnate or diminished wages, job insecurity and the possibility of retiring into poverty.
Still, the National Black Worker Center Project will continue fighting for the rights of black workers to end the jobs crisis we face. It’s time for us to expose the truth about what it means to be #WorkingWhileBlack and change course.
National Domestic Workers Alliance Executive Director Ai-jen Poo:
This decision is blow to every working person that has ever felt unheard, unseen, or hurt at the hands of unchecked power. By cutting workers’ collective organizing power, especially that of women, we’re increase vulnerability to wage theft, sexual harassment, and discrimination. We should be expanding people’s rights at the workplace, not perpetuating vulnerability.
National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García:
Today’s radical decision by the Supreme Court is a blatant slap in the face for educators, nurses, firefighters, police officers and all public servants who make our communities strong and safe. We are living in a system that is rigged to benefit special interests and billionaires, all at the expense of working people. Those behind this case know that unions amplify workers’ voices and transform their words into powerful and collective action. Even though the Supreme Court sided with corporate CEOs and billionaires over working Americans, unions will continue to be the best vehicle on the path to the middle class.
National Union of Healthcare Workers President Sal Rosselli:
Today’s ruling is a terrible blow to millions of working families who for generations have put their heart and soul into making their unions engines for prosperity and the growth of the American middle class. Janus and his backers claim this case was about free speech, when it’s really about silencing workers. But this is not a death knell for organized labor. The National Union of Healthcare Workers is expanding into so-called “Right to Work” states such as Nevada because we know that caregivers will support unions that put members in control and give them voice.
In the aftermath of Janus, it’s time for unions to get back to our roots of empowering workers, and building worker solidarity from the bottom up so that everyone is invested in their union. That has always been the best model and it's now the only way forward.
North America's Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey
Today’s Supreme Court ruling in favor of Mark Janus and against the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) attacks the rights and freedoms of American workers and further concentrates corporate power at the expense of working families in this great nation. While political and ideological elites cheer the flow of unchecked corporate money as political speech, this decision seeks to silence the voice of workers who want to collectively improve their working conditions and the economic trajectory of them and their family. All of our brothers and sisters in the labor movement represent the working and middle class of America, and we will not allow this decision to divide us. Despite this setback that seeks to silence workers’ voices and undermine their rights in the workplace, we will continue to organize and increase bargaining power for everyday Americans who have been under relentless assault from well-funded ideologues and indifferent politicians while their wages stagnate and their cost of living continues to rise.
SEIU President Mary Kay Henry:
This decision is yet another example of how billionaires rig the system against working people, but SEIU members won’t let the extremists behind this case divide us. We will stay united, help workers who are fighting to form unions, and call on our elected leaders to do everything in their power to make it easier for working people to join together in unions.
Transportation Trades Department President Larry I. Willis:
As a broad coalition of transportation unions, TTD and our 32 affiliates are committed to ensuring frontline transportation workers—and all working people—have a voice on the job, safety in the workplace, and are paid fairly for the work they do. We stand united with working families across this country who refuse to be divided by today’s ruling, and call on elected leaders to stand up for the rights of working people to form and join unions.