Union President on Janus Decision: System ‘Rigged to Benefit Special Interests and Billionaires’

Teachers Union Protests
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The president of the nation’s largest union said the Supreme Court’s ruling that public sector unions can no longer force non-members to pay dues shows “we are living in a system that is rigged to benefit special interests and billionaires.”

Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association (NEA) said Wednesday’s “radical 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.”

“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,” she added.

Garcia’s statement was part of a joint reaction to the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME by leaders of the nation’s prominent unions. The union leaders’ central theme is that the high court’s decision was “rigged”:

As millions of American workers recommit to their unions and launch new organizing drives and as support for labor unions has risen to its highest level in years, it is shameful that the billionaire CEOs and corporate special interests behind this case have succeeded in manipulating the highest court in the land to do their bidding. This case was nothing more than a blatant political attack to further rig our economy and democracy against everyday Americans in favor of the wealthy and powerful.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), said, “Swung by a Trump-appointed justice with a long history of ruling for the wealthy and corporations over regular people, the Supreme Court overturned a 40-year unanimously decided precedent that has given teachers and firefighters, nurses and cops, a path to a better life for themselves and their communities.”

“Union representation, if chosen by a majority, is the glue that holds us together,” Weingarten added.

“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,” said Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State County Municipal Employees (AFSCME). “We are more resolved than ever to fight like hell to win for our members and the communities they care so much about.”

Similarly, Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said, “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.”

In New York, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) for signing an executive order, as the Supreme Court’s decision was handed down, to block non-union campaigns from obtaining addresses and phone numbers of government employees, including teachers.

“The Trump administration was elected with a very specific policy agenda and this Supreme Court seems very committed to enforcing that agenda,” Cuomo said at a press conference. “We saw it yesterday with the travel ban and today with the Janus decision.”

The nation’s high court, the governor said, “is supposed to be a check and balance, not a rubber stamp” on the executive branch of government.

“The Supreme Court has been perverted and twisted by a political group that wants to take this country in a direction that works for them and them only,” said Michael Mulgrew, UFT president. “Years from now, UFT teachers in our schools will teach about this. They will teach what happened to this entity that was supposed to be protecting our country.”

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