The United States Supreme Court’s decision in Harris v. Quinn is the latest—and most dangerous—threat to the labor movement.
The decision did not deliver the fatal blow that many public sector unions had feared, but that is precisely why it is so dangerous: as we all breathe a sigh of relief, we are at risk of getting lulled back to sleep.
The issue is “union security”: the rule that permits unions (in some states) to require represented employees to pay their fair share of the costs of:
- having a voice at work;
- having a contract that guarantees rates of compensation, benefits, and working conditions;;
- having professional advocacy in the workplace, under the grievance procedure, in the courts, and in the policy debate that occurs at all levels of the political arena.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Harris v. Quinn makes it clear that they will support a gradual erosion of union security. We are the frog in the pot of warm water, and the Court has just turned up the heat.
Unions are the only organizations that express worker power through a common voice. It is no surprise that corporations are looking to wipe us out—that isn’t new.
What is new is that this Supreme Court—which has recently and repeatedly affirmed the superiority of corporate rights over any other interest—has in this decision signaled that it will support corporate efforts to erode worker power, further tilting our economy out of balance.
Make no mistake: the horde is at the gate.
What To Do?
The best way to protect yourself from these kinds of attacks is to affirm your support of your Union with your co-workers, get involved in contract negotiations, learn more about your Union, and talk about the threat of “right-to-work.” (the manipulative lingo that is used to sell the elimination of union security).
Let your co-workers know that you understand the value of having a strong Union and that when one person tries to claim the benefits of a Union without contributing his or her fair share, it harms all of us.
By sticking together and supporting each other and your Union, you will ensure that you always have a strong voice at work, and in the legal and political arenas.