Unclear future for unions after Supreme Court ruling

Unclear future for unions after Supreme Court ruling (Photo: Sinclair Broadcast Group)

For decades, labor unions in America have existed to help employees fight for better wages and working conditions.

“We support the teachers, and principals and administrators of the school. We make sure the buildings are ready for the kids, the kids can get to the buildings, that the kids eat every day,” Monika Roberts, Local 500 Union member in Maryland, said in an interview Tuesday.

But the power of unions may be changing after the Supreme Court ruled last week that government workers can’t be required to pay union dues if they don’t wish to, in the case Janus v. AFSCME. Public sector unions often spend tens of millions of dollars supporting political groups and causes.

Moments after the ruling came down, the attorney who argued the case before the Supreme Court called it a victory for worker choice.

“If an individual worker thinks that the Union is doing something beneficial he can choose to support that union. But if the worker doesn't think the union is benefitting them, he now has that choice to say your advocacy isn’t worthy of my support,” said attorney William Messenger.

The Governor of Illinois, who helped bring the case forward, said it came down to the first amendment.

“Defending people’s ability to choose, their political speech and political affiliation, is the essence of America,” said Gov. Bruce Rauner (R-IL).

Democratic lawmakers have already introduced a bill called 'The Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act.'

"(The bill) reaffirms every public sector worker’s right to join a union and bargain collectively with their employees,” according to Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), a sponsor of the bill.

For union members maintaining the same fundraising abilities could be an uphill battle.

"I think in the end the union will not go away. I think the union will always be a part of our fabric," Roberts said.

But just what part they play is still unknown.

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