Teachers unions across the country are reeling from the Supreme Court decision Wednesday that could limit their funding and political influence.
The decision, in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, keeps unions from collecting fees from non-members. Here’s more about the case and how major figures are responding.
Notably, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who has long made her antipathy for teachers unions known, has yet to weigh in. We’ll update when she does.
President Trump via Twitter:
Supreme Court rules in favor of non-union workers who are now, as an example, able to support a candidate of his or her choice without having those who control the Union deciding for them. Big loss for the coffers of the Democrats!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2018
Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers: “Don’t count us out. While today the thirst for power trumped the aspirations and needs of communities and the people who serve them, workers are sticking with the union because unions are still the best vehicle working people have to get ahead. … The teacher walkouts this spring, with educators fighting for the funding children need, were an example of how we will continue to make that case—in the halls of statehouses and the court of public opinion, in our workplaces and communities, and at the ballot box in November—through organizing, activism and members recommitting to their union.”
Lily Eskelsen García, National Education Association: “Today’s radical decision by the Supreme Court is a blatant slap in the face for educators, nurses, firefighters, police officers and all public servants who make our communities strong and safe. … Even though the Supreme Court sided with corporate CEOs and billionaires over working Americans, unions will continue to be the best vehicle on the path to the middle class.”
Here are other key players who have weighed in:
Bill Bennett, former Secretary of Education: “This decision has changed education policy history, and now ensures that unions aren’t playing politics with our teachers’ hard-earned dollars, when they have no choice.”
Jeb Bush, ExcelinEd and former Florida governor: “Public employee unions, including teachers unions, have long been able to put the agenda of Big Labor bosses above the needs of the broader membership they serve. … I am hopeful that the era of teachers union bosses playing politics with our schools will give way to a 21st-century model of education that focuses on the students, not the adults.”
Leslie Hiner, EdChoice: “Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of teachers and other public sector employees, recognizing their right under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to decide whether to join or otherwise support a union. Just as we support the right of parents to choose how and where their children are educated, we support the right of teachers to choose whether to support a union at the schools where they teach our children.”
Nat Malkus, American Enterprise Institute: “Now completely voluntary organizations, union membership could shrink by 20, 30, even 50 percent, enough to reshape teachers unions’ politics, identity, and operations. Losing agency fees won’t kill teachers unions, as the recent teachers strikes in non-agency fee states prove, but it could permanently weaken one of the nation’s largest interest groups.”
Michael Mulgrew, United Federation of Teachers: “The Janus decision reflects years of scheming by forces desperate to destroy workers’ rights and to undermine public education. These people think that their money, power and privilege give them the right to rig the system in their favor. But our union will remain strong, and we will not be silenced. Everything we have been able to accomplish for our members and our students has come from our ability to work together, and we will continue to fight for the rights of workers, their families and for public education.”
Roberto Rodriguez, Teach Plus: “Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is deeply disappointing. Unions have played and will continue to play an important role in the lives of working men and women, especially America’s teachers. … This decision, however, doesn’t change the importance of teacher voice and its potential for change in American education.”
Lee Saunders, AFSCME: “Unions will always be the most effective force and vehicle to propel working people into the middle class. Despite this unprecedented and nefarious political attack – designed to further rig the rules against working people — nothing changes the fact that America needs unions now more than ever. We are more resolved than ever to fight like hell to win for our members and the communities they care so much about.”
John Schilling, American Federation for Children: “Today is a win for families and educators across the country. We’re glad to see that educators will be able to keep more of their hard-earned money … We believe this Janus decision will empower educators with political choice and will allow for more student-centered reforms, like educational choice, in our K-12 education system.”
Jesse Sharkey, Chicago Teachers Union: “In Chicago, where union jobs have been the pathway to the middle class for women and Black and Latinx families, the attack on public employees is both sexist and racist. While today’s attack will hit all working families hard, in Chicago it will disproportionately hurt Black and Latinx households already reeling from the foreclosure crisis, cuts to social services, school closures, unrelenting violence and high unemployment.”
Evan Stone, Educators for Excellence: “We are disappointed in this decision We believe teachers unions play a critically important role, and the vast majority of teachers believe they are essential or important. … To retain members long-term and remain strong, unions will need to better connect with their members and ensure their policy positions and priorities reflect the beliefs of their diverse memberships.”
Neera Tanden, Center for American Progress: “Today’s decision limits the power of millions of hard-working Americans to come together in strong unions … Weakening collective bargaining will almost certainly mean smaller paychecks for many working Americans—as has been the case with Wisconsin’s teachers.”
Kate Walsh, National Council on Teacher Quality: “While this decision will require unions to obtain affirmative consent from teachers prior to collecting funds, in our view it does not hearken the demise of teachers unions. Despite the financial implications of this decision, collective bargaining will continue for the foreseeable future to play an important role in shaping teacher policies. We encourage union leaders to use this moment to breathe new life into the teaching profession, which will ensure that teachers will be even more engaged in the future.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, via Twitter:
Corporate interests have been rigging the system against workers for decades – and the Supreme Court just handed those interests a huge victory in #Janus v. AFSCME. But I’ve got news for the billionaires behind this case: we’re not going anywhere. #Union pic.twitter.com/LAxpB1k3iY
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) June 27, 2018