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Supreme Court delivers win to working families and unions

3/29/2016
We have outstanding news to share!

This morning, U.S. Supreme Court justices split 4-4 in the Friedrichs case, affirming the lower court decision in a significant win for working families and a blow to wealthy, corporate interests who want to further bend the rules in their favor.

The case gained increased attention in recent weeks not only because of the far-reaching implications, but also due to the February death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who was seen as likely to have ruled against unions as the tie-breaking fifth vote.

In a one-sentence decision, the Court left agency fee agreements, also know as the right to collect a “fair share fee,” in tact for now. This maintains nearly four decades of precedent (established in the 1977 Abood decision) and sound law that has worked for public employers and working people alike. Millions of teachers, nurses, firefighters, and other public service workers will continue to be able to band together in a union in order to speak up for one another, improve their communities, and hold the wealthy and powerful accountable.

What does this mean on a practical level? Public sectors unions may continue to charge non-members a fee equal to the cost of representing them before their employer. This ‘fair share fee' ensures that all employees contribute to the cost of securing the benefits, security, and job protections the union negotiates and everyone enjoys.

It's certain that the issue will be revisited through dozens of similar cases currently moving through the system and another hearing once a ninth Supreme Court Justice is appointed – but for now, nothing changes.

As you may know, our national union – the American Federation of Teachers – is a leading partner of the America Works Together coalition, who have played a vital role in the ongoing Friedrichs case. In response to today's action, the coalition said the following: 
“The Constitution, the law, and the facts are on our side, and we remain confident that we will continue to prevail against the onslaught of baseless litigation from those focused on trying to silence working people in order to benefit themselves at the expense of the rest of us … This case provides a vivid illustration of what's at stake when it comes to the Supreme Court. That is why the same wealthy special interests who manufactured this attack on working people are also trying to prevent President Obama from fulfilling his constitutional responsibility to fill the vacancy on the Court. It's time for conservatives to stop playing games with the Supreme Court.”
Without a doubt, this is a major victory to celebrate - but threats from other courts across the country and Governor Rauner's irresponsible political agenda right here in Illinois remain.

Much like those who brought the Friedrichs case, the Governor continues to protect the most wealthy while ordinary families and our communities suffer and sacrifice. Look no further than what is happening in Chicago and at colleges and universities on the verge of collapse across the state. This is all due to Rauner's wrong priorities and his unwillingness to work with legislators on a budget unless they agree to his political demands.

So let's use this great decision and momentum as an opportunity to further our work to engage members and build collective power. Make your voices heard this week at a Day of Action event! Learn more about what's happening Thursday and Friday across the state and show your solidarity to #FightForFunding to #FundOurFuture on social media today.

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