On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in a case that had been bankrolled by corporate interests who wanted to rig the economic system further in their favor and make it even harder for working people to come together and speak up for one another. The ruling is a radical interpretation of the First Amendment and will make it more difficult for public workers to bargain collectively. The case, Janus v. American Federation of State. County and Municipal Employees Council 31, sought to overturn commonsense jurisprudence that was established more than 40 years ago in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.
“Today’s ruling is an attack on working people that attempts to further rig the economy and that reverses four decades of precedent,” said California Teachers Association President Eric C. Heins. “The decision is the result of a well-funded and nationally orchestrated effort to weaken the ability of working men and women to come together as unions and to speak with one united voice. For educators, this an attempt to weaken our ability to stand up on behalf of our students and on behalf of quality public schools.”
The Supreme Court decision “is a blatant slap in the face for educators, nurses, firefighters, police officers and all public servants who make our communities strong and safe,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García in a statement. She, along with Heins and other labor leaders, stressed that unions are needed now more than ever. “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.”
By overturning Abood, the court eliminated nonmembers’ fair share fees, which nonmembers have paid for their union’s representational services. Unions are still required by law to represent members and nonmembers alike, and as a result, some workers will now be paying more than their fair share. Allowing some to opt out of paying anything at all for collective bargaining will make it harder for all public employees to provide the services that everyone depends on.
Heins said that despite the decision, CTA’s work continues. “Today’s decision doesn’t change our history, and it doesn’t predict our future. We look forward to our future with optimism and will continue our important work to ensure that all California students get the quality public education they need and deserve.”
Since 1863, CTA has been at the forefront of every major advance in public education in our state. Along with other California unions, CTA has led the way to raise wages, ensure all workers have paid sick days, enact paid family leave, protect immigrants on the job, strengthen workplace safety, and bring billions in funding to public schools and colleges. See more at cta.org.