Supreme Court’s Latest Anti-Union Decision

by

Organized labor got an understandable scare when the Supreme Court, on June 30, in yet another 5-4 decision, ruled (in Harris vs. Quinn) that home healthcare employees can’t be forced to pay union dues, even if they have benefited from union representation. No surprise that those comprising the majority were Justices Scalia, Alito, Kennedy, Roberts and Thomas. The Gang of Five. However, what worries organized labor most—what has put them on alert—isn’t the Harris vs. Quinn decision so much as the potential snowball effect it may have on the landmark Abrood vs. Detroit Board of Education decision (1977), a ruling which maintained that “fair share” requirements were constitutional. But that was way back in 1977, when unions were still recognized as vitally important social-economic institutions. Alas, things have changed. There is now a predatory anti-union movement loose upon the land, one that is going around telling working folks that they deserve a free ride. These anti-union fiends are telling workers who voluntarily hired into union shops (because of the superior wages, benefits and working conditions) that they don’t have to pay their fair share—that they don’t have to pay dues to the very union who fought to get them these superior wages and benefits. Nutty as that sounds, these anti-union fanatics have not only tried to make this a bogus First Amendment issue, they have, in fact, managed to get some intelligent people to listen to them, including the conservative wing of the Supreme Court. Of course, one can guess what organized labor’s position is on this issue. Their position is defined by a bedrock adherence to a sense of fair play. All one need do is look at the numbers. With barely 11-percent of all jobs in the U.S. being unionized, a non-union job is incredibly easy to find. You throw a rock and you’ll hit a non-union job. Accordingly, people who, for whatever philosophical reason, are opposed to unions will have more than enough jobs to choose from. In fact, with so few union jobs out there, they will be hard-pressed to find one that is unionized. But if these philosophically opposed Americans voluntarily choose a union job over a non-union job (because union jobs across the board—industry to industry, shop to shop—offer better wages, benefits and working conditions), it’s only fair they be asked to pay their share of the freight. Let’s be honest here. Not only would those wages and bennies not be available if it weren’t for the union, they were the sole reason why they chose a union job over a non-union job. Yet, in a world seemingly turned upside down, these people are being told otherwise. They are being told that, despite the benefits their labor union was able to negotiate, the U.S. Constitution dictates that these workers don’t have to pay their fair share. Basically, they’re being told that the U.S. Constitution has a built-in “non-accountability” clause that none of us ever heard of, not until Ronald Reagan was elected president. Of course, this issue is dripping with irony. The Republicans have a history of opposing social welfare (food stamps, stipends, government subsidies), arguing that such programs only encourage deadbeats. Yet, irony of ironies, here they are urging people to “go on welfare” by burying their snouts in the union trough. Idea for James Cameron’s next movie: “Terminator 4: Rise of the Freeloaders.” David Macaray is a labor columnist and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor, 2nd Edition). dmacaray@earthlink.net

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
September 03, 2015
Sal Rodriguez
How California Prison Hunger Strikes Sparked Solitary Confinement Reforms
Lawrence Ware
Leave Michael Vick Alone: the Racism and Misogyny of Football Fans
Dave Lindorff
Is Obama the Worst President Ever?
Vijay Prashad
The Return of Social Democracy?
Ellen Brown
Quantitative Easing for People: Jeremy Corbyn’s Radical Proposal
Paul Craig Roberts
The Rise of the Inhumanes: Barron, Bybee, Yoo and Bradford
Binoy Kampmark
Inside Emailgate: Hillary’s Latest Problem
Lynn Holland
For the Love of Water: El Salvador’s Mining Ban
Geoff Dutton
Time for Some Anger Management
Jack Rasmus
The New Colonialism: Greece and Ukraine
Norman Pollack
American Jews and the Iran Accord: The Politics of Fear
John Grant
Sorting Through the Bullshit in America
David Macaray
The Unbearable Lightness of Treaties
Chad Nelson
Lessig Uses a Scalpel Where a Machete is Needed
September 02, 2015
Paul Street
Strange Words From St. Bernard and the Sandernistas
Jose Martinez
Houston, We Have a Problem: False Equivalencies on Police Violence
Henry Giroux
Global Capitalism and the Culture of Mad Violence
Ajamu Baraka
Making Black Lives Matter in Riohacha, Colombia
William Edstrom
Wall Street and the Military are Draining Americans High and Dry
David Altheide
The Media Syndrome Between a Glock and a GoPro
Yves Engler
Canada vs. Africa
Ron Jacobs
The League of Empire
Andrew Smolski
Democracy and Privatization in Neoliberal Mexico
Stephen Lendman
Gaza: a Socioeconomic Dead Zone
Norman Pollack
Obama, Flim-Flam Artist: Alaska Offshore Drilling
Binoy Kampmark
Australian Border Force Gore
Ruth Fowler
Ask Not: Lost in the Crowd with Amanda Palmer
Kim Nicolini
Remembering Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy