In the face of public sector union reforms, leaders within these unions plan on embarking a new strategy to defeat reformist implementations.
On April 28, Newberry Library in Chicago hosted a debate on whether states can stop collective bargaining. Panelist Stephen A. Yokich, an associate general counsel for UAW, unveiled a radical idea for combatting new state restrictions on public sector collective bargaining. His strategy on behalf of the unions is to obtain a Supreme Court ruling stating that collective bargaining by public sector unions is a protecting right under the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution!
The Equal Protection Clause is found in Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This section states that no state shall “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The Supreme Court has held that this clause protects classes of race, national origin, gender, or religion from laws which are discriminatory, have discriminatory intent, or have disparate impact. Never has the Supreme Court ruled that this guarantee for “equal protection of the laws” applies to any particular group of organized workers! Such a suggestion lies far outside the judicial mainstream and defies the meaning and intent of this important clause.
When a member of the audience questioned the validity of such a novel constitutional law argument, the UAW lawyer replied, “We change what we think about the Constitution in order to adapt to the times that we are in.” Candid response, indeed.
Be alert for the public sector union leaders to begin fighting reform in federal courts in an effort to circumvent the will of the people.