• Advertisement

Trump And Right to Work And Janus v AFSCME

AFT Local 1360

Janus was a Roman god with two faces, each looking in the opposite direction.

“Janus-faced” means two-faced, or deceitful. It aptly describes the Trump administration and the other big-time, union-busting backers of the plaintiff in Janus v AFSCME Council 31.

The case, which is before the U.S. Supreme Court, could, in effect, force all public employee unions into a “right to work” framework. Also, it could “further undermine the rights of workers to choose, in a democratic process based on a majority vote, to support the payment of fees or dues for those represented by a union and protected by the collective bargaining agreement,” according to Bill Londrigan, president of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO.

AFSCME has several members in Kentucky.

Federal law requires a union to represent all hourly workers at a unionized job site. Under a state RTW law, workers can enjoy union-won wages and benefits without joining the union and paying dues or paying the union a fair-share fee to represent them.

Janus is part of the whole effort to turn back the clock on workers and unions by undermining our ability to represent our members by shutting off our financial resources,” Londrigan said. “Now with Janus, the focus is primarily on the public-sector, which has been the fastest growing part of the labor movement.”

In the Janus case, Mark Janus, an Illinois state government employee, is suing AFSCME because he doesn’t want to pay the union a fair-share fee. Rabidly anti-union groups like the National Right to Work Committee and the State Policy Network are behind him.

Organizations like the NRTWC and SPN claim they support “worker freedom.” Their real purpose is crushing unions. The SPN admits it’s goal is to “defund and defang” public employee unions.

“Under current law, every union-represented teacher, police officer, caregiver or other public service worker may choose whether or not to join the union — but the union is required to negotiate on behalf of all workers whether they join or not,” explained Roberta Lynch, AFSCME Council 31 executive director, in a Springfield, Ill., State Journal-Register guest column.

Council 31 represents 100,000 active and retired public service workers, including Janus.

She added, “Since all the workers benefit from the union’s gains, it’s only fair that everyone chip in toward the cost. That’s why 40 years ago a unanimous Supreme Court [in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education] approved the kind of cost-sharing arrangements known as fair share.”

Trump’s solicitor general has filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Janus.

Even so, the president says he’s the champion of workers. Yet on the campaign trail, he said he preferred “right to work” states to non-RTW states. He ran on a platform with a plank calling for a national right to work law.

“The Janus v. AFSCME case is an effort by powerful corporate interests to outlaw fair share, encouraging workers to contribute nothing toward the cost of union representation,” Lynch also said. “It actually began as a political scheme by Gov. Bruce Rauner, who shortly after taking office issued an executive order and filed a lawsuit trying to ban fair-share fees.”

After a handful of Kentucky counties passed local RTW laws, Rauner, a Republican, started pushing for local “right to work” zones in Illinois municipalities. Under federal law, only states can pass RTW measures. GOP Gov. Matt Bevin and his Republican-majority legislature made Kentucky a RTW state in January.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, one of the most anti-union lawmakers in Washington, has proposed a national RTW law.

Why Tomorrow’s Supreme Court Case is So Important

Here’s where we are, as a country: only 20% of us trust our government to do what is right.

Pew Research Center: Public Trust in Government 2017

Pew Research Center: Public Trust in Government 2017

And tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford, a case testing the limits of partisan gerrymandering.

Not sure what “gerrymandering” is?  It’s when lines for legislative districts are drawn in a way that influences election outcomes.  Depending on who’s drawing the lines, gerrymandering can help ensure that Republicans win, or that Democrats win.  It causes a whole lot of “wasted votes.”

Gerrymandering lets politicians pick their voters, rather than voters picking their choice of politicians.

In Wisconsin, the districting plan at issue in Gill v. Whitford allowed the political party that drew electoral boundaries to gain 60% of the seats in the state Legislature, despite only getting 49% of the statewide vote.

Last year, those electoral maps were struck down by a federal district court, which found that

“Act 43 was intended to burden the representational rights of …voters throughout the decennial period by impeding their ability to translate their votes into legislative seats. Moreover, as demonstrated by the results of the 2012 and 2014 elections, among other evidence, we conclude that Act 43 has had its intended effect.”

Here’s why tomorrow’s case is so important.  Right now, American citizens trust the courts more than any other branch of government. According to Gallup, that may be because the Judicial Branch is seen as “above the political fray” compared to the White House or Congress.

But if the Supreme Court overrules the District Court decision in Gill v. Whitford, that’s going to put our Court system squarely in the middle of that “political fray.”

And at a time when

  • 72 percent of voters agree “the American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful”
  • 68 percent agree that “traditional parties and politicians don’t care about people like me” and
  • 57 percent feel that “more and more, I don’t identify with what America has become”

the last thing our country needs is for the Supreme Court to give citizens a reason to lose faith in the judicial system.

 

Workers on Janus: A Political Effort to Further Rig the Rules Against Working People

In a rigged economy, workers say the freedom to come together in strong unions is more important than ever

WASHINGTON — The following statement was issued by members and leaders of AFSCME, AFT, NEA, and SEIU – the nation’s four largest public sector unions – in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to grant Certiorari in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31:

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. 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 forces behind this case know that by joining together in strong unions, working people are able to win the power and voice they need to level the economic and political playing field. However, the people behind this case simply do not believe that working people deserve the same freedoms they have: to negotiate a fair return on their work.

This case started with an overt political attempt by the billionaire governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, to attack public service workers through the courts. And, in a letter to supporters detailed in The Guardian, the CEO of the corporate-backed State Policy Network (SPN) reveals the true intent of a nationwide campaign of which Janus is a part: to strike a ‘mortal blow’ and ‘defund and defang’ America’s unions. The merits of the case are clear. Since 1977, Abood has effectively governed labor relations between public sector employees and employers, allowing employers and employees the freedom to determine labor policies that best serve the public. When reviewing the legal merits of this case, it is clear that this attempt to manipulate the court against working people should be rejected.

“This case is yet another example of corporate interests using their power and influence to launch a political attack on working people and rig the rules of the economy in their own favor. When working people are able to join strong unions, they have the strength in numbers they need to fight for the freedoms they deserve, like access to quality health care, retirement security and time off work to care for a loved one. The merits of the case, and 40 years of Supreme Court precedent and sound law, are on our side. We look forward to the Supreme Court honoring its earlier rulings.” – Lee Saunders, President, AFSCME

“My work as a Child Protection Investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is vital to the safety of our state’s most vulnerable children and families. This court case is yet another political attack on the freedom of my colleagues and I to speak up to ensure that we can safely and adequately manage our caseloads, which reflects our commitment to safety and public service to our communities.” – Stephen Mittons, AFSCME Council 31 member, Child Protection Investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

“Unions are all about fighting for and caring about people—and in the public sector that includes those we represent and those we protect and teach in communities across America. Yet corporations, wealthy interests and politicians have manufactured Janus as part of their long and coordinated war against unions. Their goal is to further weaken workers’ freedom to join together in a union, to further diminish workers’ clout.

“These powerful interests want to gut one of the last remaining checks on their control—a strong and united labor movement that fights for equity and opportunity for all, not just the privileged few. And under the guise of the First Amendment, they want to overturn a 40-year precedent that’s been reaffirmed numerous times. In other words, this would be a radical departure from well-established law. We believe that after resolving a similar case last year, the Supreme Court erred in granting cert in Janus, and that the trumped-up underpinnings of the plaintiff’s argument will rapidly become clear before the full bench.” – Randi Weingarten, President, AFT

“My union just went through a lengthy contract fight in Philadelphia. We had to fight hard to protect our students’ basic needs, such as having at least one nurse and counselor in each school and ensuring that kids had necessary textbooks and materials. And we had to fight back against the district’s desire to eliminate class sizes and get lead testing for the school’s water fountains. Most people assume that the union only fights for teachers’ rights, when in reality, most of our contract is there to protect the basic rights and needs of our students. Those rights are at grave risk in Janus.” – Jeff Price, AFT Local 3 member, Teacher at Central High School, School District of Philadelphia.

“For decades corporate CEO’s and the wealthy have fought to enrich themselves at the expense of the rights and pocket books of working people, and that harms families in communities across the country. As the nation’s largest union, we know this fight will not only impact the lives of educators, but it also impacts the families of the children we educate. We won’t back down from this fight and we will always stand up to support working people, our students and the communities we serve.” – Lily Eskelsen García, President, NEA

“More and more, the economy is working against working people, including the families whose children I teach. My union gives me a voice and a seat at the table to advocate for my students, my colleagues, and my community.” – Sonya Shpilyuk, NEA member, High School English teacher, Montgomery County, MD

The anti-worker extremists behind this case want to divide working people, make it harder to pool our resources, and limit our collective power. But SEIU members won’t let any court case stand in our way of sticking together for good jobs and strong communities.” – Mary Kay Henry, President, SEIU

“By sticking together in our union, we’ve lifted the wage floor to a $15 minimum wage, protected and expanded health care benefits for our families, and won more funding for our schools. Together, we’ll continue to fight to ensure all students have the support and services they need to succeed in school. That’s why the extremists are attacking us, to stop our progress. But we plan to stick together no matter what and keep standing up for quality public services.” – Edna Logan, SEIU Local 99 member, Custodian at Esteban Torres School, Los Angeles Unified School District.

Supreme Court Nominee Central Issue In POTUS Election

people-for-the-american-wayPeople For the American Way Releases Digital Video Spotlighting Supreme Court as Central Issue in 2016 Presidential Election

Today, People For the American Way (PFAW) released a digital video spotlighting the Supreme Court as a central issue in the 2016 presidential election. The video, which will be promoted on social media to PFAW members and millennial voters, lays out the simple binary choice facing voters in this election: either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be the next president and have the power to nominate up to four Supreme Court justices, shaping the future of our country for decades. The video also details the types of justices Trump and Clinton have discussed appointing.

Watch the video:

2016 and the Future of the Supreme CourtClinton or Trump will be our president for four years, but the Supreme Court justices they pick serve for life.

Posted by People For the American Way on Wednesday, October 19, 2016

 

“Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will become the next President of the United States, and their choice of Supreme Court justices will have an enormous impact on issues like the environment, LGBT rights, and abortion access for decades,” said PFAW Communications Director Drew Courtney. “Hillary Clinton has made clear that she’ll appoint justices who understand that the Constitution protects all of us, not just the wealthy and powerful. Donald Trump’s will protect the privileges of the wealthy and powerful, but not the rights of ordinary people. It’s that simple.”

Additional resources on the Supreme Court and the 2016 election:

###

Kelly Ayotte Drops Charade, Finally Admits in Fundraising Email Real Reason for Obstructing Supreme Court

 CONCORD, NH – In a campaign fundraising email this afternoon, Kelly Ayotte warned voters that her opponent Maggie Hassan would do her job as a US Senator if elected and fill the US Supreme Court vacancy that Ayotte has left vacant for most of the past year.

Kelly Ayotte fundraising email: “How do I know that? Because she has name-checked the Supreme Court fifteen times this month alone in emails to her supporters.”

In the same email, Ayotte dropped the charade about why she is obstructing the Supreme Court nominee and showed it’s nothing more than partisan politics. Statements from People For the American Way and Granite State Progress: 

“Kelly Ayotte is unbelievable. She’s spent months holding a Supreme Court seat open for Donald Trump to fill and now she’s criticizing her opponent for actually wanting to make our judicial system work,” said Linds Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Organizer with People For the American Way. “Ayotte and the Senate Republicans have blocked Merrick Garland’s nomination for more than 200 days. On the campaign trail, she’s claimed that it’s just so the next president will be the one to make the pick; but in her fundraising email, she admits that she just wants to prevent a Democratic president from making the pick. That’s not principle—it’s the worst kind of partisanship.” 

“After months of enabling his behavior, Kelly Ayotte is only now trying to back away from Donald Trump to save her own election. Yet while she protects her own political interests, she has said and done nothing to ensure that our American justice system is similarly protected,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Ayotte continues to stand by allowing Donald Trump to potentially pick the next US Supreme Court nominee.”

Over the weekend, a Concord Monitor editorial called out Kelly Ayotte for her role in hijacking the judicial system, writing: “Justice Scalia died eight months ago. Never has the Senate delayed so long in filling a high court vacancy. Government is broken, and Ayotte is among those refusing to fix it.”

(Featured Image by Gage Skidmore)

Sen. Shaheen Urges GOP Leadership To Schedule Hearings For SCOTUS Nominee (VIDEO)

“The American people expect Senators to be faithful to our oath. They also expect us to do our jobs – regardless of whether it is an election year.”
— Senator Jeanne Shaheen

(Washington, DC) —U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) delivered remarks on the Senate floor today urging Republican leaders to consider President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland, and set a hearing and a vote on his nomination. Shaheen called out Senate Republicans for breaking with bipartisan tradition and refusing to fulfill their Constitutional responsibilities to hold hearings and a vote on Judge Garland’s nomination. President Obama nominated Judge Garland in March, however, Senate Republicans have not held a hearing on his nomination. Since 1975, the average length of time from nomination to a confirmation vote for the Supreme Court has been 67 days. 

“Every Senator swore to ‘support and defend’ the Constitution – full stop,” said Shaheen. “Our oath does not say: uphold the Constitution ‘most of the time’ or ‘only when it’s not a Presidential election year.’ The American people expect Senators to be faithful to our oath. They also expect us to do our jobs – regardless of whether it is an election year.”

Shaheen continued, “Let’s do the job we were sent her to do by the American people. Let’s follow the Constitution.”

Senator Shaheen met with Judge Garland in April to discuss his nomination.

Watch Here 

“Supreme Court Justices” Convene At Senator Ayotte’s Nashua Office

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 Constituents bring the court to Ayotte’s office, call on her to do her job and fill the vacant U.S. Supreme Court seat

NASHUA, NH – Eight U.S. Supreme Court “Justices” held court outside of U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte’s Nashua district office today to highlight Ayotte’s continued obstruction to filling the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Senator Ayotte tries hard to brand herself as independent and bipartisan, but her continued obstruction around the U.S. Supreme Court nominee shows otherwise,” said Linds Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Organizer with progressive advocacy group People For the American Way. “Merrick Garland has received the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association and has waited longer for a hearing than any nominee. Public polling shows that Ayotte is out of touch with her constituents who disagree with her handling of the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy.”

President Obama nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created earlier this year by Justice Scalia’s passing, but Ayotte and the Republican-led Senate refuse to hold a timely hearing and confirmation vote. Ayotte and her colleagues now hold the record for the longest number of days from nomination to confirmation in SCOTUS history, continuing their pattern of partisan obstruction for judicial confirmations. The Why Courts Matter New Hampshire coalition – including Granite State Progress and People For the American Way – are hosting events during Congressional Recess and beyond to highlight Ayotte’s obstructionism and call on her to #FilltheSeat because #WeNeedNine.

“Granite Staters are tired of Ayotte playing politics with the Constitution by refusing to consider the President’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. Senate Republicans refusing to do their jobs and leaving the Supreme Court to operate with just eight justices means justice is jeopardized or delayed for millions of Americans,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress.

Ayotte Is Still Failing To Do Her Job, Doubles Down On No Hearings For Garland

On a right-wing radio station this morning, host Keith Hanson pressed Sen. Ayotte on why she continues to refuse to hold even hearings for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. Linds Jakows issued the following statement in response: 

“Sen. Ayotte’s continued blockade of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee is reckless and goes against the wishes of over two-thirds of Granite Staters. Yet instead of doing her job by following the Constitutional process of hearings and a vote, she’d prefer the Supreme Court seats be filled by Donald Trump, who she’s still voting for even after his attacks on women, veterans, and immigrants.”

Transcript below from WNTK Radio this morning at 8:40 AM. 

5:17

Radio host: I wanted to talk about the Garland issue. The last thing I want to do is see Obama appoint yet another activist, liberal judge. Why not allow the hearings?

Ayotte: we’re in a situation that’s somewhat unique. We have a 4-4 court, the court has shifted, this is going to impact our constitutional rights for decades. we have divided gov…we should let the voters have a voice. To me, that’s a very important question, and when you have this situation, where it’s going to fundamentally impact people’s constitutional rights, you gotta let the people weigh in with the next presidency of which direction the country is going to take.

7:05:

Radio: it’s seems like there’s a painting in the corner when it’s an outright refusal, it gives ammunition to the left. Why not at least go through the motions?

Ayotte: So you’re saying I should go through the motions, and you say that’s a more honest approach than letting the people weigh in? I don’t know if I agree with that. That’s certainly not something I would do.

Here is what Ayotte does not seem to be able to grasp: The people have already weighed in on who they want to pick the next Supreme Court Justice and his name is President Barack Obama.  He overwhelmingly won the 2012 election and that is who the American people decided should appoint the next Justice when the time comes and that time is today.

Ayotte’s obstructionism is unprecedented. Never before has nominee to the Supreme Court been held up for this long.  Merrick Garland deserves a hearing and a confirmation vote.  Garland was confirmed for his current position in the DC Circuit by the Republican controlled Senate in 1997 by a vote of 76-23.

If Garland was good enough to be confirmed by the Republican controlled Senate in 1997, why is he not even good enough to hold confirmation hearings for now?

Ayotte needs to stop playing partisan politics with Garlands nomination and just Do Her Job.

Action at Ayotte Do your Job 2

Sen. Kelly Ayotte Thinks Trump’s Shortlist to Fill the Supreme Court Vacancy Is “a Good Start”

Thursday at the Cigna/Elliot 5K Road race in downtown Manchester, Sen. Kelly Ayotte revealed a level of trust in Donald Trump’s ability to choose a qualified Supreme Court justice when questioned by a Manchester voter. 

Ayotte, who has repeatedly ignored the vast majority of Granite Staters who want her to do her constitutional duty and support moving forward with hearings and a vote for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, seemed unconcerned with the particulars of Trump’s judgement regarding the next Supreme Court justice, but said she’d looked at the list and thinks it’s a “good start.” 

See her answer here.

Linds Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Organizer with progressive advocacy group People For the American Way, said: 

“Ayotte tries hard to brand herself as independent and bipartisan, but this is just one of many examples of falling in lock step with her party leadership, who would prefer to put the future of the Supreme Court in Donald Trump’s reckless hands rather than confirm the highly respected Merrick Garland, who received the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association and has waited longer for a hearing than any nominee. Ayotte cannot, for example, pretend to champion women’s reproductive health while approving a shortlist that contains justices that would overturn Roe v. Wade, among other troubling views on issues like LGBT discrimination.”

 

At AFSCME Conference, Clinton Pledges to Fight for Working Americans as President

‘We have to send a loud, clear message: “right to work” is wrong for workers and wrong for America’

AFSCME_Hillary_ClintonIn remarks at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Hillary Clinton reiterated her commitment to fighting for working families as president and defending labor unions from Republican attacks.

“I can’t imagine how we could run our country if we didn’t have people like you, and the members you represent, working on our behalf every day,” Clinton said.  “That’s why it’s so outrageous when Republican governors steamroll public employees and stomp on workers’ rights.  In Wisconsin, the cradle of the labor movement, Scott Walker has ripped the heart, he’s ripped the heart, out of public-sectors workers’ right to bargain collectively for better wages and benefits.  In Illinois, Bruce Rauner has been holding the budget hostage for months, endangering public colleges and universities, hurting families, and demanding outrageous concessions from public-sector unions.”

“And even though workers’ rights won the day in the Supreme Court in the Friedrichs case, make no mistake—we haven’t seen the last of efforts to use the courts to undermine your rights,” she said.  “So I promise you this: I will be by your side in this fight every step of the way. When I am President, working people will always have a seat at the table and a champion in the White House.  Because I believe that when unions are strong, America is strong.”

Clinton highlighted Trump’s plan to repeal Wall Street reform laws passed in the wake of the Great Recession. “I predict that Donald will try to con you with tough talk about Wall Street.  Don’t believe him,” she said.  “Donald Trump wants to tear up Dodd-Frank and let Wall Street run wild again.”

Clinton also highlighted Trump’s hiring of a union-busting firm, his consistent practice of shortchanging contractors – driving some out of business – and a consensus among economists that his policies would plunge us back into a recession.

“Unions helped build the strongest middle class in the history of the world. You pioneered the basic bargain that made our country great. You know what it is: if you work hard and do your part, you should be able to get ahead and stay ahead,” she said. “And you’ve been on the frontlines of the fight for affordable health care, safe working conditions, fair schedules and fair wages. And I know you’re not just fighting for your members, as important as that is – you’re fighting for all working families.”

“I’m proud to be in the trenches fighting alongside you to raise wages, protect pensions, and keep the ‘public’ in ‘public sector.’  That includes ending private prisons and detention centers that profit off our criminal justice and immigration system,” Clinton said.  “And we have to send a loud, clear message: ‘right to work’ is wrong for workers and wrong for America.”

“We will pursue a bold, progressive agenda that lifts our country up. So that no one is left out or left behind,” she said.  “AFSCME helped to make our 2016 Democratic platform a strong vision.  It’s wonderful to be with people who want to build America up, not tear Americans down.”

A transcript of Clinton’s full remarks to the AFSCME Annual Conference is available here.

  • Subscribe to the NH Labor News via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 12,539 other subscribers

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement