March 29, 2016

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SCOTUS deadlock a victory for working people

uupdate 3-29-16

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 4-4 ruling in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association is a win for labor—at least for now.

“This is a defeat for anti-union, conservative forces whose goal is to bankrupt unions and dilute their political influence,” UUP President Fred Kowal said of the court’s March 29 deadlock. “But organized labor cannot rest, knowing full well that the same anti-union factions that brought Friedrichs before the high court have others cases in the pipeline to challenge unions.”

The decision upheld the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision affirming the authority of public sector unions to collect dues from all members of a bargaining unit, including fee payers.

This “fair share” approach has worked well since the court ruled in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education in 1977, which gave unions the right to collect fees from bargaining unit members for services that benefit them—such as higher salaries, health benefits, job protections and representation in disciplinary hearings.

Kowal urged members to be active in this year’s elections to ensure that UUP has friends in the White House, Congress and in the judiciary who will work to defend the hard-earned rights of working-class Americans.

While UUPers have reason to celebrate, Kowal said he doesn’t want members to lose focus on the importance of continuing with organizing and mobilizing efforts.

“I thank all of those involved in the important work of our organizing campaign,” Kowal said. “Let's all work a little bit harder and create the powerful union that will benefit all of us, our families and our students.”

Union leaders on Friedrichs

Here’s what other union leaders are saying about the Friedrichs decision:

    • NYSUT President Karen Magee: “This outcome affirms what we know to be true: Strong union rights are bedrock to the fabric of our democracy and an economy that works for all Americans. In affirming fair-share fees … today’s court ruling is a blow to the corporate, anti-worker groups who wish to deny workers the strong voice on the job that they need and deserve.”

    • NEA President Lily Eskelsen García: “The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected a political ploy to silence public employees like teachers, school bus drivers, cafeteria workers, higher education faculty and other educators to work together to shape their profession. The court saw through the political attacks on the workplace rights of teachers, educators and other public employees. This decision recognizes that stripping public employees of their voices in the workplace is not what our country needs.”

    • AFT President Randi Wiengarten: "Millions of working people who understand the importance of their unions in bettering their lives and the well-being of their communities are breathing a sigh of relief. Even so, we know this fight is far from over. Just as our opponents won't stop coming after us, we will continue full speed ahead in our effort to mobilize our members and their neighbors around a shared vision to reclaim the promise of America."

    • NYS AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento: “Working people maintain their right to speak together with one voice. But the fight is not over. We must continue to build, educate and organize to win future fights.”

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