WASHINGTON—The following statement was issued by members and leaders of AFSCME, AFT, NEA, and SEIU—the nation’s four largest public sector unions—in response to the U.S. Solicitor General's Amicus Brief in support of Janus in the corporate-backed Supreme Court Case, Janus v. AFSCME Council 31:
“This is not just a slap in the face to the working people Donald Trump pledged to lift up, it is a promise broken to anyone who hoped his presidency would be about raising wages, creating good jobs, and giving the forgotten man and woman a voice in their country. The ‘right-to-work’ law his administration has asked the highest court in the land to implement will drive wages down and fundamentally strip working people of the freedom to build power in numbers and negotiate a fair return on their work.
“For the Solicitor General’s Office to reverse positions under the Trump administration – when they have argued in support of the Abood precedent twice in the past four years – underscores the fact that this case is a purely political attack on the freedoms of working people. The true motivation behind this case is to satisfy the agenda of wealthy and powerful political donors who have spent tens of millions of dollars to, as they have said in their own words, ‘defund and defang’ the American labor movement.” – Lee Saunders, President, AFSCME
“My work as a Child Protection Investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is vital to the safety of our state’s most vulnerable children and families. This court case is yet another political attack on the freedom of my colleagues and I to speak up to ensure that we can safely and adequately manage our caseloads, which reflects our commitment to safety and public service to our communities.” – Stephen Mittons, AFSCME Council 31 member, Child Protection Investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
"The Trump administration's decision to side with corporations over working people in Janus is disappointing but not the least bit surprising. Trump may have campaigned as a populist, but he's governing as an elitist, using the levers of government to turn the screws even tighter against families and the middle class. The president and the corporations that own him are waging an all-out war against the freedom of working people to join together because they know unions are the last remaining check on their power. But we will not be cowed—we will stick together to fend off this legal attack and stand firm in our fight to build a fair economy that works for all Americans, not just the wealthy few." – Randi Weingarten, President, AFT
"My union just went through a lengthy contract fight in Philadelphia. We had to fight hard to protect our students’ basic needs, such as having at least one nurse and counselor in each school and ensuring that kids had necessary textbooks and materials. And we had to fight back against the district's desire to eliminate class sizes and get lead testing for the school's water fountains. Most people assume that the union only fights for teachers' rights, when in reality, most of our contract is there to protect the basic rights and needs of our students. Those rights are at grave risk in Janus." – Jeff Price, AFT Local 3 member, Teacher at Central High School, School District of Philadelphia.
“From tax giveaways to corporate special interests and the rich to this week’s radical call on the U.S. Supreme Court to further rig the economy against working people, Donald Trump’s actions speak loud and clear. Trump is no friend of working people or the middle class —especially women and people of color— and his actions should be seen for the naked ideological moves that they are. He and his allies wants to dismantle one of the sure paths working families have to economic stability and security. We will not let that happen. Because when the nation’s unions succeed, families and communities prosper.” – Lily Eskelsen García, President, NEA
“More and more, the economy is working against working people, including the families whose children I teach. My union gives me a voice and a seat at the table to advocate for my students, my colleagues, and my community.” – Sonya Shpilyuk, NEA member, High School English teacher, Montgomery County, MD
"The Trump Administration and the shadowy extremists behind this case want to divide working people and rig the system to make it harder to make a decent wage, see a doctor when you're sick and save for retirement. But SEIU members won't let any court case stand in our way of sticking together for the union jobs our communities need." – Mary Kay Henry, President, SEIU
"By sticking together in our union, we've lifted the wage floor to a $15 minimum wage, protected and expanded health care benefits for our families, and won more funding for our schools. Together, we’ll continue to fight to ensure all students have the support and services they need to succeed in school. That’s why the extremists are attacking us, to stop our progress. But we plan to stick together no matter what and keep standing up for quality public services." – Edna Logan, SEIU Local 99 member, Custodian at Esteban Torres School, Los Angeles Unified School District.
The Janus case is a blatantly political and well-funded plot to use the highest court in the land to further rig the economic rules against everyday working people. The billionaire CEOs and corporate interests behind this case, and the politicians who do their bidding, have teamed up to deliver yet another attack on working people by striking at the freedom to come together in strong unions. The forces behind this case know that by joining together in strong unions, working people are able to win the power and voice they need to level the economic and political playing field. However, the people behind this case simply do not believe that working people deserve the same freedoms they have: to negotiate a fair return on their work.
This case started with an overt political attempt by the billionaire governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, to attack public service workers through the courts. And, in a letter to supporters detailed in The Guardian, the CEO of the corporate-backed State Policy Network (SPN) reveals the true intent of a nationwide campaign of which Janus is a part: to strike a ‘mortal blow’ and ‘defund and defang’ America’s unions. The merits of the case are clear. Since 1977, Abood has effectively governed labor relations between public sector employees and employers, allowing employers and employees the freedom to determine labor policies that best serve the public. When reviewing the legal merits of this case, it is clear that this attempt to manipulate the court against working people should be rejected.