Capitol Alert

Rapid response: Supreme Court's Janus vs. AFSCME labor union ruling

From left, plaintiff Mark Janus, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, and Liberty Justice Center founder and chairman John Tillman walk out of the the Supreme Court after a ruling issued Wednesday dealt a setback for organized labor.
From left, plaintiff Mark Janus, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, and Liberty Justice Center founder and chairman John Tillman walk out of the the Supreme Court after a ruling issued Wednesday dealt a setback for organized labor. AP

Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego

“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with forces that are waging a direct and coordinated attack on working people and their ability to collectively bargain for better pay and working conditions. Without a doubt, this is a setback for hard-working families and a victory for those who seek to widen the income gap between the very rich and the rest of us. But the labor movement is no stranger to adversity, and I know this will only harden its resolve and fuel its ongoing efforts to create a strong American middle class.”

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood

“Janus is just the latest weapon being wielded by anti-government billionaires like the Koch Brothers. Once Senate Republicans took the unconscionable course of leaving a Supreme Court seat vacant for a year until it could be filled by Donald Trump, we knew this outcome was likely. Here in California we are a model for the rest of the nation — a state where a vibrant economy that embraces worker rights and protections can co-exist with progressive social and environmental policies. With this unjust decision as further motivation, we will continue the fight to ensure workers are protected on the jobsite and in retirement, that they are paid decent wages, and that they have a voice in the workplace. The economy can’t just be about the rich and corporations. So I will continue to stand with the teachers, and first responders and other union members in my district and throughout California who serve our state every day.”

Assembly Republican Leader Brian Dahle, R-Bieber

“Unions have had a monopoly on California politics for far too long. Today’s decision will stop unions from taking money away from hardworking people, without their consent, to push a political agenda that has made California unaffordable. Now, instead of pushing to serve union bosses, the Legislature can concentrate on fighting California’s highest-in-the-nation poverty rate.”

Lt. Gov Gavin Newsom

"The right of workers to organize as unions for fair wages and working conditions is a bedrock principle underpinning America's middle class. I strongly reject the reasoning underlying this ruling and California must chart its own path to strengthen the rights of workers."

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris

"Our country’s success depends on the right of all workers — including teachers, firefighters, peace officers and nurses – to collectively negotiate fair wages, benefits and protections. The Court’s decision today undermines the basic American premise, held up by courts for more than four decades, that if a union represents all employees in negotiating and administering a collective bargaining agreement, then all employees ought to share the costs of that representation. We also cannot ignore that this decision is part of an ongoing trend of the Roberts Court that has repeatedly sided with employers over employees, corporations over consumers, and special interests over vulnerable Americans. Congress must act to bolster the American labor movement that built the middle class of this country. It is up to all of us to fight to protect the ability of working families to make a living wage and pursue the American dream now more than ever.”

State Sen. Kevin De León, D-Los Angeles

"Today, SCOTUS sided with corporate billionaires to threaten hardworking families, but here in California, we won't let one politically-motivated ruling undo so many years of progress. We will continue fighting to make it easier for working people to stand together."

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra

“We are disappointed in today’s ruling in Janus, a case about defending the interests of working people. The U.S. Supreme Court is threatening the ability of workers to engage in collective bargaining and of states to manage our workforce. Even in the face of this challenge, workers in California can count on our office to defend collective bargaining rights and to stand up for fair pay, workplace safety, pensions, paid sick days, health-care services and other important protections. We will not back down in the fight to protect working families and to ensure that the voices of California’s workers are heard.”

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla

"I grew up in a union household and throughout my entire career, I have defended the right of working people to collectively bargain and share in the American economy. Today’s Janus decision is a direct attack on working people. We will keep fighting and organizing."

U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Fremont

"Special interests have been rigging the system against the working class for far too long. SCOTUS just came down on the wrong side of history in Janus. We will come together to fight back and work to strengthen unions and raise wages."

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa

"One week from today, we'll celebrate our nation's independence from British rule. Today we celebrate our independence from public employee union control over hard-working Americans."

Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio, D-Baldwin Park

"The U.S. Supreme Court's decision today hurts teachers, police officers, firefighters and public servants in California. This is a direct attack on the middle class. As a former teacher and California Teachers Association member, I know the critical role unions play in negotiating for fair pay and protecting workers. We will not allow hardworking families to be denied an opportunity for good-paying jobs. I look forward to working with the unions and will continue to fight for workers’ rights.”

Assemblyman Todd Gloria, D-San Diego

“Janus v. AFSCME was never about ‘free speech’ – it was about silencing speech. This case was nothing more than a blatant power grab by those who do not want to give workers a fair shake and want to diminish their collective voices in the workplace and in our democracy."

Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco

“Today’s Janus v. AFSCME decision is a huge blow to workers across our country and will make it much more difficult for our middle class to compete in an increasingly unjust economy. Organized labor has helped to achieve many of the benefits we enjoy as a broader society. From weekends and paid sick leave to health care and the minimum wage, the labor movement has secured countless victories for working families over decades. It is vital to our democracy and the health of our economy that workers have a strong collective voice capable of holding those in power accountable. I stand with the working people of our state, and am ready to pursue options to ensure labor unions still have the ability to effectively represent and champion workers.”

Assemblyman Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach

"Today’s ruling is a victory for the millions of workers who should not be forced to pay into a union as a condition of employment. I applaud the Supreme Court for taking the first step to give public employees more control over their paychecks. In California, we should build upon this ruling to pass right-to-work policies that protect the freedom of choice for all employees. While I praise the victory of Janus, California Democrats and unions continue to install barriers that obstruct workers from opting out of unions.”

Larry Hanley, president of Amalgamated Transit Union

“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark anti-worker ruling that advances the attack on labor by trying to limit our power to fight. But, in the process, it has already sparked a new generation of union activists."

Fabrizio Sasso, executive director of Sacramento Central Labor Council

“Strong unions are the bedrock of Sacramento’s middle class. We’re standing together with our union members, friends, neighbors and community members to say that we’re not about to let any Court decision roll back the clock on all the progress we’ve made together to create a better Sacramento.”

Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California

"Today’s Supreme Court decision is bad for the health and well-being of not just unionized workers but all Americans. As Justice Kagan says in her dissent this decision uses the First Amendment as a sword that could go after not just labor laws but patient protections and more."

American Legislative Exchange Council

"This ruling is a victory for free speech and individual rights. Teachers and other public sector members will now have freedom to choose to voluntarily join a union if they decide it will serve their interests, rather than endure compulsory fees to unions that put their own agenda first. Public sector unions will no longer be able to force non-members to pay bloated 'agency fees' as a condition of employment."

Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer for California Labor Federation

"We condemn the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn 40 years’ worth of precedent at the behest of corporate billionaires in the Janus v. AFSCME case. The decision today to reverse a unanimous 1977 Supreme Court ruling is nothing more than a bald attempt to weaken unions by some of America’s richest CEOs and five right-wing political appointees sitting on the court. Never in its history has the court issued a ruling so clearly motivated by politics and outright disdainful of the constitutional tenets it has vowed to vigorously defend. Working families should never trust this court again."

Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California

"Throughout the LGBTQ civil rights movement, labor unions have played an important role, not only as our allies, but as our advocates. Unions have fought to improve working conditions, combat discrimination and increase wages for hardworking LGBTQ Americans. And they have also stood shoulder to shoulder with us in the fight for full LGBTQ equality and social justice."

Kerry Jackson, fellow with Pacific Research Institute's Center for California Reform

“Today’s landmark ruling restores a freedom that should have never been allowed to be taken from workers — the freedom to not be forced to fund political activity they don't agree with. Public employee unions can no longer require workers to support interests they feel conflict with their own. While unions and their allies are already rushing to change state law to blunt today’s victory for worker freedom, the Janus decision may finally break the logjam holding up the passage of badly-needed fiscal reforms.”

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