International building trades union leaders offered reactions to the predictable outcome of the Supreme Court case, Janus v. AFSCME. The ruling granted so-called “Right to Work” in public-sector unions throughout the country by overturning Abood vs. Detroit Board of Education.
In a prepared statement, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the politically motivated ruling was a “political stain on what is intended to be the most honorable, independent body in the world.”
Terry O’Sullivan, President of Laborers’ International Union of North America was not happy about the ruling, but remains optimistic about the role unions play in strengthening the middle class.
“Despite the cynical efforts of the anti-worker groups financing Janus, union membership has always and will always strengthen the middle class and help build our nation’s prosperity,” said O’Sullivan.
International President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Lonnie Stephenson, said the ruling was an attack on working people.
“This is an all-out attack on the basic freedom of working people to come together to better their lives and their communities,” said Stephenson. It is “not just an attack on public-sector workers, it is an attack on every single American who works for a living, and it is only the first step in an effort to repeal every right won by working people in this country.”
For some labor leaders, this ruling should serve as a wake-up call to union members about the importance of voting in every election.
“We emphasize to all workers that all elections have consequences and anti-union backers and their legislative cheerleaders can hinder the progress that we have made over the past century in one fell swoop,” said Ken Rigmaiden, General President of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.
General President Joseph Sellers Jr. told SMART Transportation Division members at a regional meeting the ruling means the union must increase efforts to educate their members on the candidates and the issues.
“We have a midterm election coming up, and we can change that paradigm, but it’s not going to happen by itself. It’s not going to happen without our hard work,” said Sellers Jr.
“We need to be laser-focused as we fight back and take back one or possibly two branches of this government,” he said.