USW Condemns Supreme Court Janus Decision

CONTACT: Wayne Ranick, (412) 562-2444,

United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo W. Gerard issued the following statement in response to the June 27, 2018, U.S. Supreme Court decision on the case of Janus v. AFSCME Council 31.

“The United Steelworkers (USW) strongly condemns today’s split decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to side with big-money interests and harm the ability of public sector workers to collectively bargain for their members’ futures.

“The 5-4 vote in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 drastically curtails the rights of public sector workers under the law and could trigger a downward spiral in union membership and finances, which is exactly what Janus’ backers hope will happen.

“Make no mistake, this case was an attack on unions, working people and the causes that the labor movement fights for every day. But no court case will stop unions and their supporters from fighting back against efforts to weaken and divide us.

“This assault on workers was financed by conservative, right-wing billionaires and the organizations they support, including the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, to undermine the labor movement and the quality family-sustaining jobs that have developed over decades of collective bargaining.

“At issue was the ability of unions in the public sector to collect agency or fair share fees from non-members who benefit from the higher negotiated wages, benefits and working conditions in unionized workplaces.

“No worker was required to join a union under this system, and both union members and non-members could opt out of political and other costs not directly associated with bargaining.

“Yet unions are required to represent those non-member free riders in bargaining and settling work-related problems with employers. If this sounds like an attack to defund unions, that’s because it is.

“The ruling overturned precedent established in a 1977 case known as Abood v. the Detroit Board of Education, which basically affirmed that a union shop, then legal in much of the private sector, was legal in the public sector.

“For more than forty years, through Republican and Democratic administrations, the law has recognized that unions and employers have the freedom to negotiate agreements under which everybody contributes his or her fair share.

“This attack on public sector workers, including teachers and emergency service personnel, must be a wakeup call for all union members and their supporters to stand with our brothers and sisters.

“Now that the anti-union movement has gotten its way in the Janus case, the next likely step for Republicans and the conservative rich is to propose a national right-to-work (for less) law.

“Unions have proven to be one of the most effective ways to move people from poverty into the middle class, especially for women and minorities. They sustain families and make communities stronger.

“We must organize and demand that our elected leaders and political candidates enact public policies that will make it easier, not harder, for people to join unions.”

The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in manufacturing, metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.

Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-2446

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor R.J. Hufnagel

For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
Communications Department
60 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222