Union Bosses, Leftist Senators Brace for Likely Supreme Court Loss

(Quin Hillyer, Liberty Headlines) Months before the U.S. Supreme Court actually hears oral argument on a key labor-union case, nervous Democratic senators already are jawboning against the expected pro-worker result.

NATELSON: How the NYTimes Distorts View of Supreme Court

PHOTO: Phil Roeder/Creative Commons

The case is Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). In it, an Illinois state employee named Mark Janus contests the automatic withdrawal from his paycheck of dues for a union to which he does not belong, but which claims (in effect) to represent him via collective bargaining.

As Liberty Headlines reported in September, “Janus does not agree with the union’s bargaining position with regard to what at heart is a political dispute concerning how, and how much, Illinois pays its public employees. Presumably, he believes he can get a better deal under the policies pushed by Republican governor Bruce Rauner than under the one-size-fits-all system favored by the union bosses.”

When the Supreme Court considered a similar case in 2016 while the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia was vacant, the court split 4-4. Now that conservative Neil Gorsuch is on the court, many observers expect the justices to rule 5-4 in Janus’s favor.

PREVIOUSLY: Supreme Court Could Free Gov’t Workers from Forced Union Dues

Hence the panic among leading Democrats, who count on the muscle of union bosses to help further their liberal political aims. If workers can choose to de-fund the union bosses, most observers believe that Democratic Party organizational models will be weakened.

On Wednesday Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer unleashed a furious speech on the Senate floor, blasting the arguments of Janus and those representing the right to work without union interference.

Schumer complained that “over the past few decades, union membership has declined, and along with it, middle-class wages and opportunities. Since the 70s, when union membership was near 30 percent, it has fallen to just 11 percent of all workers in 2014.”

But rather than attribute that decline either to inadequate service by union bosses and/or to workers simply making their own choices about their employment representation, Schumer said: “That decline is mostly because the union movement, and concurrently the middle-class with which it is aligned, has been under attack from the big corporate special interests and the conservative movement for the better part the last three decades. It’s well-funded by a small group of very rich, and I might say greedy, people.”

Rather than allow the thought that Janus is exercising his right as an individual, Schumer finds (or invents) a scapegoat, in this case the famous libertarian industrialists and philanthropists, the Koch Brothers: “They’ll pursue any avenue to disrupt the ability for workers to organize and collectively bargain for a fair share of the profits they create so that they can make an extra buck. These forces will do whatever it takes to keep rigging the system in their favor.”

But Schumer was just getting started. In his speech, he outlined an entire series of pro-boss policies he and his Democratic allies intend to promote, to strengthen unions’ “collective” power while denying individual workers the ability to decide for themselves whether or not to opt in to the union political agenda. Top on his list is repealing “right to work” laws in the 28 states that boast such policies – policies that dare to allow workers to avoid joining a union with which they do not wish to affiliate.

Schumer also threatened to ratchet up the stakes: Rather than rely on less disruptive means of restoring union power, he wants to “strengthen workers’ right to strike,” thus seriously inconveniencing not just business owners but innocent customers throughout the economy.

Despite promising to take away workers’ individual freedom to negotiate their own work arrangements and give that power to the union bosses, Schumer entitles his initiative the “Our Better Deal, the Freedom to Negotiate.” (To which, workers might ask: “Whose freedom?”)

But Schumer wasn’t the only Democratic senator to inveigh, in advance, against the bosses’ potential loss at the Supreme Court. Uber-liberal Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren also attacked the Koch Brothers, who have helped finance right-to-work movements. Warren said that because Justice Gorsuch dared to make a speech to an unrelated civic-education group known as the Fund for American Studies, which has accepted some financing from the Koch Brothers, this somehow should illegitimatize Gorsuch for the Janus case.

Warren, not known for understatement, described the situation thusly: “Just as the ink was drying on the court’s announcement that it would hear Janus, Justice Gorsuch was off to hobnob with some of the biggest supporters for one side of this important case—the side that wants to deny workers the freedom to build a future that doesn’t hang by a thread at the whim of a few billionaires.”

Somehow, Gorsuch’s unpaid speech was portrayed by Warren as an “ethical conflict.”

Not even Warren, though, went as far as Jeff Merkley of Oregon. He questioned whether a 5-4 decision with Gorsuch in the majority should be seen as valid at all.

“Now, should we put an asterisk by Neil Gorsuch’s name? Should even a 5-4 decision with Gorsuch in the majority even carry weight here in our society?” Merkley asked.

He said that because Republicans (who claimed at least some precedent for not approving top judges in the final year of a president’s term) had kept the Scalia-vacated court seat open for a full year, the seat had been “stolen from one president and delivered to another.” Again, he said, it was all part of a conspiracy “to enable the 1 percent to rip off ordinary working Americans…. Now we know who is behind this strategy. It’s the Koch brothers through their organizations.”

PREVIOUSLY: Momentum Increases Against Compulsory Union Dues for Gov’t Employees

Conservative policy experts, of course, say this is just fear-mongering. The current regime of forced union dues, argues staff attorney Mailee Smith of the Illinois Policy Institute, means that workers are told to “pay the union or lose your livelihood. It means anyone who wants to dedicate his or her life to being a teacher, child services worker or firefighter automatically loses constitutional rights [to freedom of association] enjoyed by others in American society.”

Union bosses, anticipating their loss, already are taking action. The final word here comes from Forbes magazine contributor George Leef:

It appears that some unions will resort to trickery to keep as many members and as much money as possible. Kim Crockett revealed in this Wall Street Journal article that the Minnesota affiliate of the National Education Association is prepared to distribute membership renewal cards for current members, which includes an authorization to deduct full dues in fine print. It reads:

“This authorization shall remain in effect and shall be automatically renewed from year to year, irrespective of my membership in the union, unless I revoke it by submitting written notice to both my employer and the local union during the seven-day period that begins on September 24 and ends on September 30.”

Thus, teachers who sign are stuck with paying for the union indefinitely, unless they submit the necessary withdrawal in that six-day window in September. That’s the kind of underhanded practice you expect from a fly-by-night business.

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  • Naval Lint

    Flying by night is the only way that Liberals ever get anywhere….it’s just who they are.

  • brooksmd

    The comments by Schumer are simply amazing. Who writes that [email protected] for him?

    “small group of very rich, and I might say greedy, people.”

    He could actually be describing union bosses with that comment.

    • patriot1111

      That he is.

    • Nancy C

      I never believe anything that comes out of the mouth of a Libtard unless I have checked it against at least 3 independent sources. Then it is still suspect! Lol They don’t know how to do anything, but lie anymore. That is their new truth. Lies on top of lies. It’s a sickness and they should all be locked in a Sanitorium. Unions are just fronts for criminal organizations and they steal money from hard working middle class America. Which has become an endangered species. That is why our economy is tanking. Who spends the most money in this country? The Middle Class.

  • Ed Roberts

    The guy that thinks he can get a better deal with the Republican better think twice don’t play your cards to fast after it done and want a raise they may cut you wages for asking see the union does all the work,and your union dues are tax deductible, somebody is blowing smoke up his ass,look at Wis and Scott Walker ask some of those folks.

    • deanbob

      Who is blowing what, where? Do you disagree that Janus has the right to be concerned about where HIS money is going – especially if he chooses a Republican?

      • patriot1111

        They try their best to weed out Republicans during the Hiring process.

    • Jimmy Mitchell

      I grew up in the union my father worked for the union while he quit the union because as he says it’s the crookest most violent organization on earth out of government

      • Ed Roberts

        Wait a minute your father didn’t work for the union,that’s what get’s me I am a retired IBEW electrician I worked for union contractors,that wanted to be union,for the best men they could get,I met a fellow this summer that lived in Wisconsin after Scott Walker busted their union he retired early to get away cause he saw the writing on the wall,and you think it’s the most crooked and Violent in the world,the politicians got the all beat.

    • PStanP

      Please furnish an English translation.

      • Ed Roberts

        Go piss up a rope

        • chasaragdy

          Ed Roberts: Your comment “…Go piss up rope…” is a clever cover-up for anyone that’s English (language) challenged. There’s an old Irish Proverb that says, meaning “PROFANITY: Is Ignorance Made Audible” Good luck in your search for kindness and knowledge.

  • Fed up!

    Chuckie is get as bad a Piglosi, McCain. They all in the first stages of demented brains.

  • RealAmerican407

    The ends always justify the means for Democrats. They will do WHATEVER they must to stay in power.

    • deanbob

      Roger that; but the GOP has its share of dirty laundry and people (McCain is at the top of my list)!

      • mari

        It is our responsibility to vote them OUT!!!

      • Robert Wayne

        I don’t consider these neocon phonies like McCain, Grahamnesty and the Bushes to be true conservatives anyway. The establishment RINOs are just as worthless as the DemoRATs.

        • Deplorable wizard

          Definately RINO’s, not conservative.

      • robert v g

        This article is about Schumer, Dem.-supporting unions and only eight on the S.C. last year.Got nothing to do w. GOP. There are plenty of other web sites where your argument will fly. I’ve been in LIU Local 496,URW Loc. 3,etc.Where u been?

      • Deplorable wizard

        McCain is a RINO!
        He sold out in Nam, and sold out in dc.

  • mari

    Originally workers fought for the right to join unions, now we have to fight to get out of them.

    • Rex Whitmer

      That was a long time ago, when employers actually seriously mistreated employees. In one instance, Government troops in Colorado were called in to shoot people whom were camping in the woods when they had been run out of company housing! Over the years, the unions got entangled with Mafia individuals, and began acting like the Mafia! Business owners had no authority to hire or fire anyone. Pay raises were granted so that union dues could be extracted, and non union members could find themselves being beaten, or killed! Union influence has lessened since those days, but not in states with union shops! The money collected is supposed to be used to help union members but often is diverted to criminal activities. See the difference?

      • mari

        Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. So many people and organizations started with such good intentions and, human nature being what it is, they end in depravity.

  • stevenlehar

    Nothing wrong with the idea of unions, as long as they are both VOLUNTARY, and also REPRESENTATIVE of the workers they supposedly represent.

    • patriot1111

      they lie a lot to their Members, very sneaky. And the National Labors relations Board is a Joke!

    • stevenlehar,
      Nothing wrong with the idea of unions? No, if they do what workers can benefit from. But pricing them out of jobs is not the beat idea in the world. However, like the ACLU, they are sometimes a necessary evil.

      • nocbsfan

        Not anymore back int he thirties when wages were almost zero some one needed to represent the wage earner Now the wage earner needs some one to protect them from the union

        • What comes around, goes around………………….

          • nocbsfan

            I take it you are a union man, I owned my own business with union employees You would think different if you were signing pay checks when no one is earning it Union workers are not knowledgeable or worth their salt there may be be exceptions, I just haven’t met one yet. That started 46 years ago. No need to get irate I left room for error

          • Unions had their day and ended up creating the desire for companies to move overseas. No, I am not pro union. at the same time, unions are necessary evil when companies deny benefits and/or low ages.

          • nocbsfan

            I give you a job, the job allows you to have a place to live keeps you from being hungry allows you to buy clothes you do a menial job one most men could do but I picked you now why do I owe you a paid vacation paid holidays a bonus at the end of the year and all of your health ins. ? Give me an honest answer.

          • Being competitive is one reason. Being a virtual slave is another. People have families and families need time, too.

          • nocbsfan

            You lost me,What did I say that brings up family Or being away from I was being hypothetical And if you were in the place of That is to say it is your company an you are signing paychecks what would you do?

          • I was trying to tel you what I was about. I fit the same mold my Dad and Grand father did. They were hard, self determined, self induced workers, and had to supply their own energy to accomplish their tasks.
            Have I had people working for me. Some worked and some did not. Those who worked got raises and benefits depending on how long they stayed. Those who had to be prodded or hurried or lacked self motivation were out looking for another job in a short amount of time. I had no control over benefits.

            Did you not provide benefits for your employees? What did you do to give them any incentives to not only work daily but induced to do even more?

          • nocbsfan

            Gave them health Ins, vacation pay. depending on longevity. and paid holidays provided they were on the job day before and the day after

          • That’s exactly what a decent company/ interprise does.

          • nocbsfan

            Right who needs unions

          • Remember the old Ebineezer Scrooge story? Some businesses are scrooges. Of course, one can always try to find another job. I would.

          • I worked at the same company for 40 years. I got to work around 7:30 AM and left at 5:30PM. I walked to work and walked home again. I did not get overtime as I was a fixed salary. I went out of state, remaining there for a week to months. I got good vacation time for my effort. I was my own Union. I did not ask for any time off but when my son was in the hospital in Seattle I got paid for every day I was gone. I lost my son which may have made a difference. I began with one week of vacation per year but the last few years I had two weeks of vacation every year. I had a week for sick leave which I seldom used. I had accrued a lot of time off.

            The bottom line is that I did my job and beyond my required time allotted. I Was rewarded without asking for time off or pay increases. I started at $1.25/hour and was making $70,000/year when I retired. I have an excellent retirement as a result.
            But I am not the usual worker who wanted great favors from my employer. I believe that is what every worker should do. We had deadlines to meet so I worked late lots of times. There were times when the boss me go home. But that’s the way I do my work. I am now 80 and put in over well over 40 hours a week on my photography and writing articles for newspapers and magazines. I get lots of praise for what I have done. I also take time to chat with guys like you who are decent people.

    • karmicpete

      And not representing government workers!

  • ONLYJB1

    Without the union money, the American communist party is in serious trouble!

    • patriot1111

      Bingo

    • Kenny Albert

      They steal about 5 grand of my money every year and give it to these traitors.

      • ONLYJB1

        And then you pay more to the federal government. And then you have your state with their hand out for more of your money. On top of that then you pay sales tax. Boy do you have anything left for survival?

  • patriot1111

    It was contract time Dec. 2015, Negotiations were not going good, The employer would not budge on anything. Our Union steward was approached by Mgmt. who said go with this contract or your out on the street we have people to replace you (Merry Christmas) Can you say Extortion. The Union did nothing, People were worried about losing their jobs so they voted for a $hitty lo ball contract. Unions the toothless tiger.

  • Bill Harrison

    Somethine a crooked Lawyer would draw up. Today the public unions are the big problem. The union negotiate for the union but no one negotiates for the taxpayer. The negotiator is more than likely a elected official and this is a huge conflict of interest. The politician give the unions huge settlements in exchange for votes and help lying to the taxpayer. So as a taxpayer I have no voice in what I have to pay for.

    • Nancy C

      Exactly, so when exactly did Public Servants conveniently forget what that title implies? Even Elementary school children WERE taught that Public Service meant Serving your community. At least the ones who have been elected by “We the People”. With Trump in office, there are many things he can accomplish and already has, but these corrupt fools tightened their grip the moment Hillary Criminal Clinton lost the Election.

  • SA Ander

    As my grandmother once said, a person shouldn’t have to pay to work.

  • dane

    Schumer is a total POS, because of him several people are dead. The lottery was his plan!

  • MCS

    One wonders what sort of kick back Schumer is getting. Follow the $$$$$.

  • Jon Blake

    Unions rob from the Workers to enrich itself.

  • Kenny Albert

    As a union pipe fitter I have never and will never vote for a democrat.

    • patriot1111

      you will be blackballed

  • Jon Higley

    I’m not trying to cry over spilled milk, but I sure wish this issue had come to the Supreme Court as a case a couple decades ago. For three decades I was forced, by state law, to join a union I didn’t want to be a member of. Those dues continued to climb over that period and I estimate that I lost at least $10,000… maybe more which I could have invested. I’m pleased to see that it’s at least now being heard and that it looks favorable for winning. It’s long overdue.

  • Deplorable wizard

    At one point in our history unions were beneficial for employee’s rights. Now they only benefit the bosses and the leftist agenda.
    In 30 plus years in construction, I noted one fact: union workers are the laziest folks on the entire job site, bar none.

  • 27633171

    It shouldn’t take a Supreme Court ruling to verify that any citizen of this country has the right to choose who he will associate with. That is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The state of Illinois has been knowingly violating that right and should be sanctioned and made to pay the full extent of the cost of this suit as well as compensatory damages.

  • ImOffendedTreatMeSpecial

    This would be a good start but what we really need is a way to keep our tax dollars from going to organizations we don’t support. Starting with the UN and the baby killers @ planned parenthood (that name is right out Orwell’s 1984).

  • Harvey Mitterdorf

    Forcing people to pay union dues is just plain wrong.

  • Louie Rey

    I’ve never held a union job so I’m not all that familiar with their workings. But one thing I do know, it’s essentially robbery when some of your wages are deducted for an entity that you have no relationship with. How is that justified?

  • Kirk Kahler

    this just one more in a long line of miss deeds that the democrats do to the every day American to raise funds for there corrupt cartel all so known as the democrat party ! over the last year more and more of the lefts corruption is coming to light and the every day people are seeing just how bad they have been lied to cheated and all around screwed over by the democrats ! all the left wants is to empower there illegals with more rights than American citizens ! open our boarders for every one ! take the rights of Americans a way ! rule over America ! keep there double standards ! to have the working class every day americans pay for every thing !

  • minefinder624

    Unfortunately , many unions have segued from representing the worker’s interests to becoming corrupt and selling out to political groups (are you listening Democrat Party?) . Honest unions will maintain and increase their membership- the rest will suffer so long as workers have freedom of choice . My father was a union negotiator and later a business owner. His philosophy was lets make it work for both sides. He negotiated , at the time , the best mining union contract in Canada.When he had his own business ; he had the best crews because the employees knew he was treating them fairly. Funny how that works for both sides.