Refresh for latest… As organized labor was left reeling from today’s Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME that public service employees don’t have to pay union fees, Hollywood guilds planted a flag of defiance.
In the high court’s second 5-4 decision along party lines in two days, following Monday’s upholding of President Donald Trump’s Muslin travel ban, the justices struck down an Illinois law that mandates nonunion workers pay fees toward collective bargaining. In his majority opinion (read it here), Justice Samuel Alito wrote: “It is hard to estimate how many billions of dollars have been taken from nonmembers and transferred to public-sector unions in violation of the First Amendment. Those unconstitutional exactions cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely,” Alito wrote.
In an impassioned dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wrote, “The First Amendment was meant for better things.”
Here is what the showbiz unions are saying today. We’ll add more reactions as they come in.
SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris
“The Court made the wrong decision; a decision in favor of increasing the power of employers at the expense of their workers. Without engaged workers, union protections become more vulnerable. This ruling is a direct attempt to weaken unions, the very organizations who allow workers to speak together as one, to have a voice in their wages, their safety at work, and their healthcare and retirement. The Supreme Court’s decision directly overturns a decision made by the Court in 1977. Have workers lives improved so much that unions can now be so blatantly attacked? Are workers all better off now? Are employers sharing in their success with all those who make them successful? No.
“This shameful decision only serves to strengthen our resolve to find ways to protect working families in this country. Now more than ever as professionals, we must come together and renew our commitment to speak as one. To be strong in the face of all attempts to minimize us. We know that fighting for a better life for you and your family is what unions do. It’s time for unions, and the workers who make them vibrant and strong, to show this court and those who would attack and diminish working people that this is unacceptable. When workers come together, workers win, and that did not change today.”
“We should harbor no illusions about this terrible decision: it was the product of raw power politics, not constitutional deliberation. The Koch Brothers and their hard-right-wing allies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in recent decades to undermine the ability of working Americans to fight for themselves, to have a voice on the job, to win terms and conditions of employment that make it possible to support a family and pay the bills.
“The Janus decision is part of a cynical scheme (which included the U.S. Senate’s stunning refusal to consider a nominee to replace Antonin Scalia in 2016) to deprive public sector labor organizations of the basic ability to sustain themselves, financially. Score one for the plutocrats, who have won an ugly victory at the expense of the people who build our roads and teach our children and fight our fires.”
IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb
“This terrible decision is a sign of our times and the political mess in which we find ourselves. Soon, all working people, not just those in the public sector, will face the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s actions, in the form of diminished bargaining rights and weaker contracts.
This is a dark day for all of organized labor, but we can and we must continue to press back against this ongoing assault. We must continue to grow and strengthen our unions through organizing, no matter what the laws are. We didn’t need permission to fight back against the robber barons of the Gilded Age, and we do not need it to fight back against the robber barons of today. Read Loeb’s message to IATSE members here.
Actors’ Equity Association Executive Director Mary McColl
“Today, the Supreme Court issued a decision that is a blatant attempt to take away the freedom of working people to join together in Union. Equity stands with our brothers and sisters across the country who are fighting against a system that is rigged in favor of special interests and big corporations. We will organize. We will hold our elected officials accountable. And we will fight back against efforts to divide us. Every working American has had their lives made better by labor unions. We will not rest while the American worker is being attacked.”