Union members rally at capitol to protect workers’ rights
St. Paul, MN – Around 1000 union members and supporters held a rally at the state capitol building, Feb. 24, to defend union rights in the public sector, which are under attack from a right wing funded lawsuit intended to weaken the labor movement. The lawsuit is called Janus vs AFSCME. The goal of the lawsuit is to eliminate fair share fees in unionized public sector workplaces. Under current law, if the workers have organized, the union is required to spend resources representing every worker at that workplace even if they choose not to join the union. Because the union is required to spend members’ dues money representing those non-union workers, it has long been held that if a particular worker does not want to be part of the union they may choose not to, and instead of paying dues, that worker instead pays a fee for only the amount of money that the union spends representing them. This is called a “fair share” fee.
If the Supreme Court rules that fair share fees may no longer be collected, then the union will have to spend money on people who choose to be ‘free riders,’ but that person will not be required to pay for the services they receive from that union. The reason that right-wing organizations are funding this lawsuit is that they know that this will seriously hurt the budgets of unions, which they believe will make it harder for unions to effectively organize and represent workers. Ultimately their goal is to eliminate unions so that bosses are able to treat workers as poorly as they choose and pay them less in wages and benefits.
The workers who rallied at the capitol clearly understand that this is nothing but an attack on their rights and was intended to weaken them and take away their power. The protest was attended by many unions both from the public and private sectors. AFSCME, SEIU and Teamsters members were out in force, as well as teachers from across the state. Many other unions had crowds at the event as well.