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Minnesota politicos react to Supreme Court anti-union ruling

REUTERS/Toya Sarno Jordan
People holding signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court, waiting for the Janus v. AFSCME case on Monday.

No surprises here. The Star Tribune’s Erin Golden reports: “Minnesota’s political leadership was deeply divided on Wednesday after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public employees who do not join labor unions can’t be required to pay for collective bargaining. … Republican elected officials and conservative groups applauded the 5-4 ruling as a victory for individual freedom, while DFLers and labor organizations blasted the decision as a major blow to workers and a setback to decades of union organizing around workplace issues.”

He may have a point. KARE reports: “You'll have to look beyond the city of St. Paul to get your fireworks fix this Fourth of July, according to a post by the mayor. … Mayor Melvin Carter announced on his Facebook page Wednesday that he would be scrapping the annual fireworks display, stating he believes there are better uses for tax dollars. … In his post he writes, ‘As I’ve considered the budgetary priorities we manage across our city in the first year of my administration, I’ve decided I can’t in good conscience support spending tax dollars on a fireworks display in Saint Paul this year.’ ”

New old Prince. The AP reports (via MPR): “The Prince estate and Sony Music Entertainment have signed a distribution deal for 35 of Prince's previously released album titles. … The catalog included in the deal will be distributed by Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony. … According to details announced Wednesday, albums originally released between 1995 and 2010 will be available for worldwide distribution this year, including The Gold Experience, Emancipation and 3121.”

Unfair play. The Pioneer Press’ Sarah Horner reports: “The former athletics director of Como Park Senior High admitted in court Tuesday to using his position to swindle the St. Paul school district out of tens of thousands of dollars. … The admission came more than two years after police began investigating Michael Williams Searles’ suspected involvement in more than $100,000 in athletics funds discovered missing from the high school while Searles held the position. … He was subsequently charged last June with one felony-level count of theft by swindle of more than $35,000.”

In other news…

More side effects:More Hennepin Healthcare studies to be suspended in sedation debate” [Star Tribune]

Interesting debate:Har Mar Superstar's Sam Cooke shows: Honor or appropriation?” [City Pages]

Writing may be on the wall for 2020:Last call at BJ's, a last-of-its-kind Minneapolis strip club?” [City Pages]

Mayo spreads:First South Korean hospital joins Mayo network” [Rochester Post-Bulletin]

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Comments (11)

Melvin? Are you being honest?

Something doesn't smell right here. It seems to me if St. Paul wanted a 4th of July fireworks display they would have had to start planning for it many month in advance. And now, if they cancel, would they not have purchased or committed to purchase the fireworks? Me thinks someone may have forgotten to plan for this year's display. And now, it is "convenient' to say,,,,,,oops, budget problem. .

If unions cant force people

If unions cant force people to give them money, where will the DNC get it's operating budget?

Is this the end of the NEA and AFT? Will public school funding increases finally get to the kids? Gawd, we hope so.

"anti-union rulling?"

This is not an "anti-union ruling!" This is a pro-choice, pro-freedom ruling!

pro-choice, pro-freedom ==

pro-choice, pro-freedom == anti-union

They are mutually exclusive.

Something for nothing

The Janus case is yet another example of GOP Supreme Court majority paint-by-numbers approach to the Constitution: "$=speech"; "speech= 1st Amendment"; therefore state must show "compelling state interest"; therefore deadbeat who wants something for nothing can have it because his "freedom has been infringed." Of course, the "free-rider problem" -requiring those who benefit contribute their fair share-itself might be a "compelling interest". Except the same Supreme Court GOP majority, having previously ruled that it can't be, cites its own opinion to say that won't change its mind now. This is the sort of hip shotten and ideologue driven logic we can expect from this increasingly intellectually challenged Court majority. One which has abandoned most of its concern for protection of the "little guy", the American citizen, the actual human being who live and breathe on this planet- in favor of the protection of concentrated money and large corporate interests.

Come to think of it, getting something for nothing at the cost of somebody else seems to be the consistent thread through all GOP thinking. Ideas like "community", or "shared sacrifice" or "higher good" seem to be absent from the GOP toolkit.

"therefore deadbeat who wants

"therefore deadbeat who wants something for nothing can have it because his "freedom has been infringed."

Yeah, except for the part where they reject the union's representation by *not joining*. Here's an idea; let non-union employees negotiate their own terms of employment irrespective of what the union wants, and let employers keep those agreements private.

Win - win.

Lose-lose

The history of labor relations in this country proves you wrong. There's a reason laws like the Wagner Act and the National Labor Relations Act were passed. These laws were enacted to put an end to ongoing cycle of violence and acrimony that characterized labor relations in the US from about 1875 to 1950. The same need for maintaining labor peace supported the creation of public sector unions.

"Terms of employment" include a lot more than salary or rate of pay. For millions of people, it used to mean "job security" and "seniority". For many public sector employees, it still does. I wonder if Mr.Janus enjoys seniority in his job or he, like many of those who think they'd do better "negotiating their own agreements", takes his success in life to his superior qualities as an employee? The ranks of the unemployed and underemployed are swollen today with highly qualified and experienced former employees who thought their jobs were secure until their jobs were eliminated by "restructuring" or some other anodyne excuse. There are tens of millions of over 55's who were laid off to make way for younger and less costly employees. It's one reason why a majority of Americans have no plan for retirement. It's against the law to discriminate against people based on their age. (or race, sex or a host of other factors.) Corporate employers (and government ones too) violate those laws with impunity because they can. Even if a person can negotiate a contract for themselves, it's no protection against a powerful employer which has the means to breach it is it serves their financial interest.

Unions are no panacea but it's moonshine to believe that in the jungle of 21st Century America one can negotiate better terms of employment than can be bargained for collectively. Today's decision strikes another blow against the right of association, another First Amendment right. The Janus decision, authored by a wing of the court that enjoys lifetime job security, was really about balancing one First Amendment right against another and doing so because these five justices think they are wiser than the legislators who crafted the laws of public sector unions. No doubt Janus and many others will be fooled into believing that compelling Janus to contribute some pitiful sum toward the union amounts to violation of his First Amendment right of expression, but that's only if one believe that there's no rational basis for a law that protects the First Amendment rights of other employees to associate for advancing their economic interests. using language like "subsidize" and "compelling interests", these five justices have just played a clever word game to mask their true agenda which is to benefit the interests of the plutocrats and corporations in running America for their own selfish ends.

Minority Unions

When the NLRA was passed, it was employers who wanted unions to represent the entire bargaining unit. This made it easier for the employers. They would only deal with one union for a given group of employees.

If unions do not have to represent free riders, and the employer is not bound to pay free riders the minimums set forth in the collective bargaining agreement, that may lead to more than one union representing the workforce. Presumably, employees could jump in and out of membership in any unions available to them. If your spouse may need major surgery soon, you make seek the contract that has better medical benefits for instance. This may not be what employers want, but it may be what they get.

At it's heart, this is in fact a free speech issue. As it stands now for members of public employee unions and for private employee unions in right to free load states, the law compels speech on behalf of freeloaders. One, don't expect the right wing think tanks to stick up for free speech rights in this case. Two, don't for a minute doubt that the radical extremist conservatives on SCOTUS will contort themselves into ruling that there is no problem compelling speech if it weakens unions. Because it's not really about free speech, it's all about the power of the corporatocracy.

In fact, we have seen this sort of contortion recently. When SCOTUS ruled in the the case of the Colorado bakery, they gave great weight to the musings of the government officials involved, which SCOTUS said showed animus toward religious beliefs. But in regard to the 120 day Muslim travel ban (now 516 days old), SCOTUS instructed us that Don Trump's anti-religious statements mattered not one wit. It's not about the smoke screen of originalism, it's merely heads I win tails you lose.

Let employers keep those agreements private?

Not if they're public employees, which was what the Janus decision was about.

"Today's decision strikes

"Today's decision strikes another blow against the right of association, another First Amendment right."

When your argument rests on an outright false premise, it's time to rethink the position.

The decision does not forebear joining a union (associating), it doesn't say employers do not have to agree to bargain with a union that enjoys the support of a majority of their employees.

It guarantees one the right to *choose* who we associate with. The left is all about choice, until someone makes a choice leftists don't like.

If unions are the sweet deal they claim to be, they will have no trouble maintaining their membership. If they lose members, perhaps they need to rethink their priorities. This is especially true for teachers unions. I've spoken to many young teachers who rightly consider themselves professionals, and do not wish to join a blue collar trade labor union.

I can foresee a time, very soon, when the NEA morphs into an voluntary association that maintains best practice and professional standards for teachers, like the AMA does for doctors. That will be a golden day not only for teachers, but for students.