Unions and the Supreme Court

Unions are having tough days. Conservatives love corporations therefore they do not like unions. Conservatives, which these days includes almost all Republicans, have put out a story that unions are to blame for the flight of the factories from American cities. When they say unions are to blame they really mean that workers are to blame. Workers were too greedy. They kept wanting more money, more vacation time, more protection from unfair labor practices and safer working conditions. In other words they wanted a small piece of an increasingly gigantic money pie.

So Conservative talkers went on the radio or TV (FOX) and used obfuscation to convince laid-off workers that the unions are to blame for their plight. Of course, they neglected to mention that in this scenario they are actually placing the blame on the workers. They did such a good job that the workers began to blame the unions too. After all, Conservatives need those very workers to help sideline unions. Voila! We have anti-union “pod” people, who used to be pro-union, now joining the right-wing movement to destroy unions. The story they told had a happy ending. Once there is proof that the unions have no power, the corporations who left will come rushing back.

The right-wingers lied. They know this won’t happen but their future plans for workers do not include a role for unions. Organized labor is anathema to them, just as are all regulations on businesses. Corporations that have remained in the US can do as they please with workers when there are no unions. We were in that position long ago at the turn of the 19th century when child labor was common and working days were long. People worked weekends, every weekend. Why would we want to give up unions that Americans fought so hard to organize? People died in those struggles.

The right-wing talkers have managed to get workers all riled up over something called an “agency fee”. Unions can charge nonmembers yearly fees. People have never liked having to pay to a union they had not joined so they were ripe for the right-wing message. Conservative talkers have now hammered home the message that this fee strips workers of their freedom and that it is un-American. They don’t use the term “agency fee”, they call it something that sounds much better, they call it “right to work”.

But when a union wins a victory on behalf of workers, all of the workers enjoy the fruits of the victory, not just the members. For this reason an “agency fee” seems appropriate. We all pay extra for meds so that drug companies can do research (and make enormous profits). We don’t get to opt out of high prices if we don’t want to pay for research. The idea of the “common good” comes into play. In the case of the unions the “agency fee” keeps the union powerful enough to stand up to the wealthy and powerful corporate owners and CEO’s.

On Monday, February 26, 2018 the agency fee will be taken under consideration by the US Supreme Court in a case called Janus vs AFSCME. You should go on social media and let the Supremes know that the agency fee is important and that you don’t want the court to rule against the union in this case. Pay your union dues as long as you can afford to. You never know when you may need a union again. Without unions it would be quite easy to turn us into serfs.

Here is a link to an article on this subject from today’s NYT’s:

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