US Supreme Court rolls back rights of workers

The PSAC joins with unions around the world in condemning the United States Supreme Court ruling in Janus v AFSCME as an attack on the ability of public sector unions to improve the lives of workers and their families.

The case involved an employee named Mark Janus who argued he should not be required to pay union fees even though his union, AFSCME, has a legal obligation to represent him, and despite the benefits he receives as a result of being covered by a union contract.

The 5-4 decision in favour of Janus reverses a 40 year-old ruling by the US Supreme Court that found compulsory dues collection by public sector unions to pay for union representation is not in conflict with the US Constitution.

By allowing public employees to opt out of paying dues, the new position of the Court opens the door to free riders; those who choose not to pay will get all the benefits their unions bring, while the financial burden will fall fully on those who agree to pay dues. If fewer employees pay dues, unions will have to either increase the fees of those paying, or cut back on their activity, which will reduce their effectiveness.

“The Janus case was an orchestrated attack on unions backed by powerful corporate interests through groups like the National Right to Work Foundation and you can bet that those same forces are going to launch a major campaign to convince workers to stop paying dues now that they can no longer be required to pay their fair share,”said Chris Aylward, PSAC National President.

PSAC has been a leader in Canadian courts in promoting the rights of workers to be represented by unions, and the rights of unions to defend members in the workplace, and at the bargaining table. The Supreme Court of Canada has gone in the opposite direction of the Janus decision.

“The Canadian labour movement has successfully argued that Canada’s Charter of Rights protects collective rights like the right to unionize and to bargain collectively, but the Janus case is a reminder that we must always remain vigilant against those who want to reverse progress,”said Aylward.

Aylward also pledged PSAC’s solidarity with US public sector unions as they shore up membership support and fight to stay strong in the face of the Janus ruling.


June 29, 2018