Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision on the Janus vs. AFSCME case, stating that public-sector unions’ fair share fees, collected from employees who decline to join a union but still benefit from their negotiations, are unconstitutional. The decision will essentially bring “right to work” to public sector workers across America.
Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus members issued the following statements:
Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights)
“As a former union organizer – serving my sisters and brothers in labor for more than 25 years – today’s Supreme Court decision is devastating. It is a major blow to working people and will undoubtedly weaken the middle class across America.
“This misguided, wrong-headed decision will impact our communities the hardest, making ‘right to work’ the law of the land for our public servants – our police officers, fire fighters, teachers, nurses and more. That means lower wages, fewer opportunities for women and people of color and more dangerous workplaces.
“This decision is a culmination of nearly 40 years of strategic, anti-worker efforts to undermine unions and prioritize corporations. Just like Citizens United, this case extends the dangerous idea that money is speech.
“Unions built the middle class in America and they’ve played an essential role in protecting working people. As lawmakers, it’s now our responsibility to defend the voices of Ohio workers who protect us, educate our children and serve our communities.
“Just like during Senate Bill 5, when I fought with the overwhelming majority of Ohioans for workers’ rights, I stand strong with my labor sisters and brothers. These attacks cannot and will not silence us.”
Senate Assistant Minority Leader Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus)
“This ruling in favor of Janus is a ruling against our communities, affecting the collective bargaining rights of some of our most respected professionals, including teachers, nurses, firefighters and police officers. Unions provide a path to the middle class and advocate for equal opportunities for all. This decision means lower wages, fewer opportunities for women and people of color and more dangerous workplaces.
“It is now our responsibility, as lawmakers, to move forward. All people are best served when public servants can join together with management at the table to negotiate for their own benefit and for improved government services for all Ohioans.”
Senate Minority Whip Edna Brown (D-Toledo)
“Unions built the middle class and have played an integral role in protecting and supporting people in the workforce for over a century. As a former AFSCME Local 7 member and strong supporter of collective bargaining rights, I know firsthand that unions provide essential safeguards for workers. They ensure that workers are operating under safe conditions and provided fair wages. Without the protection of unions, people risk losing these fundamental rights. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s decision weakens unions, weakens workers’ voices and weakens the middle class in America.”
Senate Assistant Minority Whip Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati)
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is devastating for workers in Ohio and all across America. As a former police officer, I know firsthand that the ability to collectively bargain for safe working conditions and fair wages is a powerful and important tool. When the court decides to restrict that tool, a power imbalance is created that overwhelmingly and negatively impacts workers.
“Despite this setback, I will continue to stand strong with our labor partners to defend the voices of the Ohio workers who protect us, educate our children and serve our communities."
Senator Sean J. O'Brien (D-Bazetta)
“I am disappointed with the Supreme Court’s ruling today in the case of Janus vs. AFSCME. Right-to-work is wrong and we should be doing more for our working men and women throughout the state and country.”
Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman)
“This ruling will set us back decades when it comes to workers’ rights in our country. Today will forever be remembered as one where the interests of a few triumphed over the rights of many.
“Union representation provides workers a living wage, safe working conditions and a pathway to the middle class. Janus was not a grassroots effort by everyday people. This decision is a direct and strategic attack on organized labor, and it will affect our local communities members the most, including our teachers, nurses, firefighters and police officers.
“This ruling takes a significant step toward dismantling organized labor as we know it. However, just as I stood strong with Ohioans to reject Senate Bill 5, I’m committed to working with my fellow lawmakers and our labor partners to defend the voices of Ohioans.”
Senator Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood)
“Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus vs. AFSCME is but another blow to working families led by a corporate-funded agenda. The decision further rigs the economy against working families to benefit CEOs and large corporations. The result will be lower wages and a weakening of the rights of workers.
“When the first right-to-work effort came to Ohio in 1958, as Amendment 2, and proposed changes to Ohio’s Constitution, it was defeated by nearly a two-to-one vote. The second major attack on workers’ rights occurred in 2011 with the passage of Senate Bill 5 in the Republican-led Ohio General Assembly, which was overwhelmingly repealed by Ohio voters. Unsuccessful at the ballot box in Ohio and elsewhere, corporate interests have now been successful legislating from the bench.
“In a time where workers across the country are united in their calls to make organizing easier not harder, a corporate-led assault on working families seeks to turn back the clock on workers’ rights. Our public sector workers make Ohio strong by teaching our children, providing police and fire protection in our communities, caring for the disabled and delivering essential services to our residents. These committed public servants deserve good pay, good benefits and safe working conditions. I will continue to work with our labor partners and stand in solidarity with Ohio’s workers.”
Senator Vernon Sykes (D-Akron)
“Today’s Supreme Court decision will undoubtedly make it harder for unions to negotiate fair wages and workplace safety. It’s simple; the American middle class is strongest when workers have the power to raise employment standards, and the Janus ruling weakens their ability to do just that. After the resounding defeat of Senate Bill 5, we know Ohioans overwhelmingly reject these attacks on workers.”
Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland)
“Today’s Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME is a disappointing failure of justice for American workers. Strong unions are the backbone of our workforce and many of us benefit from the influences of the labor movement. As we face an end result that could mean the loss of union jobs, higher wages, health care and all the other protections, we must continue fighting for the rights of our workers.”