Scott Statement on SCOTUS Decision to Hear Challenge to Public Sector Unions

WASHINGTON – Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03) issued the following statement after the Supreme Court issued its decision to grant certiorari in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31. This case considers whether to overturn 40 years of precedent established in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which upheld the requirement that state and local government employees who object to paying for union representation may be required to pay fees to cover the cost of representation:

“Since 1977, following the Abood v. Detroit Board of Education decision, the Supreme Court has granted public-sector employers and employees the freedom to best determine their own labor relations, while protecting the rights of individuals who wish to opt out of joining a union. This decision affirmed the principle that employees who abstain from joining the union may nonetheless be assessed 'fair share fees' because they benefit from the union’s collective bargaining. The Seventh Circuit correctly relied on this precedent in Janus. However, by taking this case, the Supreme Court is signaling that it would overturn 40 years of precedent--after having deadlocked 4-4 on the matter in 2016--and require unions to represent employees without any obligation on the part of the employees to pay for the costs of such representation.   By doing so, the Court will put its thumb on the scales by undermining effectiveness of employees in negotiating for better wages and conditions of work.

“Unionized workers have more access to paid holidays, paid sick leave, life insurance, medical and retirement benefits, and higher pay than those workers who are not unionized. Unionized workforces also lead to less turnover for employers and more highly skilled workers; children of union members are more likely to climb the ladder to the middle class; and states with higher union density have better workplace laws.

“Departing from established precedent would demolish the well-grounded policy that balances the needs of public sector employers and the rights of employees, and imperil public sector employees’ economic security. I hope the Supreme Court protects workers’ rights and honors its longstanding precedent.”

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