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Supreme Court 5-4 Decision Seeks to Undermine Worker Rights

Photo by Kate Mereand-Sinha via Flickr.

In its decision in Janus vs. AFSCME, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down nearly four decades of precedent and legal protections established by the unanimous decision in Abood vs. Detroit Board of Education. The Janus decision attempts to suppress teachers from speaking out for the needs of their students, public education, and their profession.

“This is an attack on children, teachers, nurses, firefighters, and this nation’s middle class,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen. “There would be no middle class without unions who protect their rights.”

The Janus case revolved around the issue of whether nonunion members should benefit from the wages, benefits, and protections negotiated by the union without paying the cost of the negotiations. The case was funded by corporate billionaires and special interest groups pushing their elitist agenda to take away workers’ rights.

“The Janus case is an effort to take away educators’ freedom to speak with a unified voice about their workplace, their profession, and the well-being of their students,” said CEA Executive Director Donald Williams. “It’s an attempt to take away the rights of men and women to collectively bargain for fair salaries, benefits, and working conditions.”

Connecticut’s fair share system was a commonsense plan that worked well for both union and nonunion members. It allowed teachers who opted out of the union to pay a reduced fee to continue covering the union representation and bargaining services that benefited them, and to pay nothing toward any political activities or involvement.

“Teachers need a voice inside and outside the classroom to ensure the best learning and working conditions in our public schools,” explained Cohen. “Silencing that voice and our ability to speak collectively puts student learning and public education in our state at great risk.”

Cohen added, “The mission and work of CEA remains the same. Teachers stand strong for their right to a collective voice and the freedom to bargain for decent wages and working conditions.”

In states like Arizona and Wisconsin, where fair share was abolished, teachers’ voices have been silenced, salaries and benefits have plummeted, working conditions have eroded, class sizes are higher, and outcomes for students are often lower.

Though CEA is deeply disappointed by the court’s decision, said Cohen, “Our members are stronger together. We will work diligently and relentlessly to ensure that our union membership and bargaining power remains strong so that we can best serve our students and ensure a world-class public education system in Connecticut.”

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