The nation’s public employee unions received a bit of good news on Monday, Oct. 7, when the U.S. Supreme Court turned down a joint request by two national union-busting organizations to hear a case that would decide whether states can continue to designate unions as the exclusive representatives of groups of public employees.
“Exclusive representation” means a duly chosen union is the sole voice for all workers and source of worker power. It is the basis on which our union is organized and the way we bargain for meaningful change.
Through the process of collective bargaining and exclusive representation, DC 37 members — and AFSCME members across the country — earn fair wages, safe and reasonable working conditions, job security, health benefits that cover us when we are sick, and retirement benefits that provide us with dignity as we age.
Attacks on public employee unions have been have been relentless since the Trump Supreme Court last year broke 40 years of legal precedent and ruled against public employee unions in a landmark case Janus v AFSCME.
But in refusing to hear the latest case, Inslee v Harris, the Supreme Court has let stand a decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that the designation of a single union to represent a group of public service workers serves the state’s compelling interest in “maintaining labor peace.”
Meanwhile, the political right continues to maintain its hostility toward public sector unions through the federal court system.
Many more lawsuits that threaten public sector unions have been filed and yet to be decided. The struggle continues.