The Civil Service Employees Association Regional President Flo Tripi said union members are contacting her to find out what the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on unions means for one of Western New York’s largest unions.
“We have had a lot of inquires. What does this mean? How is this going to affect me?” Tripi said.
With a 5 to 4 vote the highest court of the land favored Mark Janus. He’s a government employee from Illinois who argued it’s his First Amendment right “not” to pay union dues. Today’s ruling gives government employees nationwide, including hundreds of thousands here in New York, the choice to opt out of paying.
“I get very angry about it because I’m saying how could we continually give in to corporations,” Tripi said.
Several other unions are slamming the court’s decision. New York State United Teachers released this statement:
“On the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court's attack on working families, teachers, police officers, firefighters and other public employees, labor leaders around the state are rallying in solidarity. Together, they are sending a resounding message that the wealthy anti-union forces behind today's decision cannot break our commitment to economic justice and opportunity for all workers.”
New York State Nurses Association also released a statement:
“The Supreme Court today issued its ruling in the Janus case. It follows the lead of other efforts by the federal government to take healthcare away from millions of Americans, cause harm to the environment, undercut voting rights and, recently, sow confusion in the lives of children of detained families.Janus was the outcome of decades of campaigning by billionaires to undo unions altogether. They are starting with the public sector. Janus targets public sector workers, invoking a twisted argument that says that everything carried out by a union in the public sector - from fire fighters to police to nurses in public hospitals, and many more - falls under the First Amendment's protections. This ruling allows union members to stop paying dues based upon their First Amendment rights. Janus is not really a fight about the US Bill of Rights, but about efforts by those American elites to take down unions and build greater wealth and power. It is a head-on attack on the long-established rights of collective bargaining, without which working people are virtually powerless against corporate might. "Our fight is not over. There are powerful forces that will attempt to thwart the progress we have made. It is only through our own determination and on-going commitment as nurses, working within a democratic and activist union, that we can defeat these forces; the same forces that created Janus and seek to destroy unions and the rights of working people. When we fight we win! Never give up!" –NYSNA President Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, RN”
Governor Andrew Cuomo(D-NY) also released a statement. It said in part:
"The Supreme Court just did what Republicans and big business have sought to do for years—attempt to undermine the strength of the labor movement. But not here in New York. Not now, not never."
Congressman Chris Collins (R-NY) agrees with the court’s decision. He said employees will no longer be forced to pay dues toward a union’s political interest. This would also put more money into workers’ pockets. Now the pressure is on unions to convince members about their value.
“You should not be forced to financially support opinions or speech you disagree with,” Collins said.
CSEA believes some members will stop paying union dues. However, they are sending letters and talking to members about the importance of unions when it comes to wages and representation.