The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against public employee labor unions, saying in a 5-4 decision that nonmembers should no longer be forced to pay dues and fees. The ruling will have a substantial impact on New Jersey politics, where unions like the New Jersey Education Association and the Communications Workers of America have extraordinary clout in state and local campaigns.
Statements on the Janus v. AFSCME decision will be posted below. Check back for updates.
Americans for Prosperity – New Jersey state director Erica Jedynak: “Today is a game-changer for New Jersey and the trajectory of the country. A victory for worker freedom, public employees will no longer be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment or fund political speech against their will. Americans for Prosperity Foundation – New Jersey is excited to partner with the My Pay, My Say Project to educate New Jerseyans on their new-found rights. Janus is our lightning in a bottle to turnaround failing labor policies and expand right-to-work protections to all.”
The Action Center on Race and the Economy: “This decision by the Supreme Court will have deep repercussions for people of color across America for years to come. Unions have long been one of the only paths towards financial stability for our communities, ensuring affordable healthcare access, protecting our ability to retire free from debt, and providing economic security for working families. This is racialized capitalism at its worst. Today’s decision makes it clear that those who don’t believe in economic justice will stop at nothing to rob our communities of tools they need to advance economic mobility. This is part of a deliberate strategy by corporations and the far right to divide government workers from the communities they serve and pit them against each other. In moments like these, ACRE is proud to stand with teachers and other public sector workers across the country who are joining with community partners to go on offense in their campaigns by bargaining for the common good.”
Democracy for America chairman Jim Dean: “Following yesterday’s partisan 5-4 decisions on Trump’s Muslim Ban and fake abortion clinics, the U.S. Supreme Court has once again revealed itself to be a tool of the fringe-right conservatives in Congress and the corporations, billionaires, and millionaires who control every single breath they take. From the very start Janus was a calculated, political attack orchestrated by right-wing corporate interests to aid the destruction of unions, one of the few institutions in America working people have to take on the powerful corporations who dominate their lives. Rather than standing up for the interests of working people, in a nakedly partisan ruling determined by a U.S. Supreme Court seat stolen by Mitch McConnell and his Senate cronies, a bare conservative majority gave their wealthy and powerful patrons exactly what they wanted.
While loss in Janus and the assault on workers’ rights it represents is real, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s shocking victory in New York’s 14th Congressional District last night should give progressives hope. While one Congressional district won’t change the composition of a Supreme Court controlled by a stolen seat, Ocasio-Cortez’s victory reminds us that a new generation of inclusive populist leaders is on the march. While the far-right and their corporate masters won today, a path to the real progressive change our country needs still exists through the ballot box in 2018 and beyond. It’s our duty to seize it.”
Senator Bob Menendez: “With this ruling, the Supreme Court has sided against our teachers and nurses, our police officers and firefighters, and all hardworking Americans who have chosen public service careers,” said Sen. Menendez. “As devastating as this 5-4 ruling is, no court case will change the fact that unions play a key role in helping public employees to organize and act collectively to improve their work conditions and their relationships with their employers. We should make it easier for hardworking people to join unions and organize to defend their rights, not harder. As we saw yesterday, Supreme Court’s decisions have tremendous consequences for the lives of everyday Americans. Today’s ruling is yet another reminder why I opposed the Trump Administration’s decision to nominate a far-right judge like Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court who time and time again sides with powerful corporate interests over the rights of working people and middle class families class.”
Governor Phil Murphy: “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.”
Attorney General Gubrir Grewal: “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.”
Commissioner of Labor Rob Asaro-Angelo: “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.”
State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon: “The cycle of public employee unions using dues to finance the campaigns of politicians who then reward them with taxpayer dollars may finally be coming to an end. In New Jersey, the millions unions have funneled into campaigns has led to expensive government driven by the highest taxes in the nation. This ruling is a victory for workers as well as for even-handed political debate. Public union money frequently, purposefully overwhelmed any potential for legitimate, fair, and open public discourse. Many public employees may choose not to pay union dues that result in large deductions from their paychecks. They may also recognize that the unions they have been forced to support financially are driving up their own tax bills. This will lead to an erosion of the power of public employee unions that too often have worked against New Jersey taxpayers.”
Rep. Bill Pascrell: “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. Unions create fair treatment for American workers and higher wages for their families. Now his Supreme Court has worsened prospects for workers in service to radical ideological and political power. A recent study from 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. So there can be no mistaking it: this decision is 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. The modern middle class emerged from the steady protections of unions. Despite this political decision, unions and the right to collective bargaining will remain cornerstones of American life, and will lead to the rebuilding of the middle class.”
Congressional candidate Tom Malinowski: “This ruling is nothing short of union busting. Unions have made our country better, economy stronger, and our workers safer. Especially at a time of economic uncertainty, we should be empowering our unions, not attacking them, Already, public sector unions are required to bargain on behalf of non-union employees. Stripping them of the right to collect fees will make it harder for them to bargain at all. GOP special interests are demanding public sector unions work for free. Today may have been a blow to America’s workers, but our elected representatives can still fight. In Congress, I will stand up to union busting tactics that threaten our workers and our economy.”
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin: “This is disappointing and a major setback for the labor movement. This will hamper the ability of labor unions to represent the best interests of public workers. The fair share fees were just that: fair. They helped covered the cost of bargaining and representation. Public workers had no obligation to become union members, but were expected to contribute to the work that was being done on their behalf, and stood to benefit from. Now that’s gone. Unions are in a better position to advocate for all workers when they have the resources to do it. That is why I sponsored the Workplace Democracy Enhancement Act to help unions carry out their duties by improving communication with the workers they represent. We should be working to make unions more effective, not less.”