The Supreme Court announced they will once again take on a case that seeks to defund public sector labor unions in what is expected to be a crippling blow to organized labor, The Washington Post reports.
The Supreme Court took on a similar case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, earlier this year where the justices split 4-4, upholding a lower court ruling rejecting the attempt to defund public sector unions.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court announced they will hear Janus v. AFSCME, a similar case. With Trump’s pick, Neil Gorsuch, now on the bench, there is no doubt the vote will go down party lines again and will be a major loss for organized labor.
Janus seeks to cripple unions by arguing that “agency fees” or “fair share fees” are unconstitutional.
Because unions are mandated by law to bargain on behalf of all workers, even those that have opted out, unions often require non-members to pay agency fees to avoid collapsing as a result of far less money coming in from dues.
Without agency fees, unions risk collapsing and workers risk losing their collective bargaining power.
The plaintiff in Janus argues that these fees are unconstitutional in contracts involving public sector unions because it violates public employees rights to free speech.
Many conservative-led states have “right to work” laws which already ban agency fees. About 20 states allow them.
“We are now one step closer to freeing over 5 million public sector teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other employees from the injustice of being forced to subsidize a union as a condition of working for their own government,” Mark Mix, the president of the corporate-funded National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation said in a statement.
But Lee Saunders, the president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, called out the group for using public employees as pawns in a case bankrolled by billionaire CEOs.
“The Janus case is a blatantly political and well-funded plot to use the highest court in the land to further rig the economic rules against everyday working people,” Saunders told the Washington Post.
“The billionaire CEOs and corporate interests behind this case, and the politicians who do their bidding, have teamed up to deliver yet another attack on working people by striking at the freedom to come together in strong unions.”
The Friedrichs v. CTA effort looked like it would push the conservative war against organized labor over the finish line until the death of Justice Antonin Scalia caused a 4-4 split.
With Gorsuch on the court, there’s no doubt the conservatives will win this time.
It may be a harbinger of things to come as the Supreme Court will also review key partisan issues like gerrymandering, same-sex couple rights, and immigrant rights this year.