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6:17 PM PDT 6/27/2018

by Jonathan Handel

“Private sector unions, including those in entertainment and sports, have good reason to fear that they will be the next target,” says one observer.

Three Hollywood unions slammed a Supreme Court ruling released Wednesday that sharply diminishes the power of public-sector unions by allowing workers to refuse to pay union dues or fees even while receiving the benefit of union contracts, calling the ruling a shameful decision that will lead to attacks on private-sector unions as well.

That seems likely as a political matter, and it may be true as a legal matter too, particularly in light of the Court’s probable turn even further rightward when retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy is replaced. The decision in the case, called Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, is grounded in First Amendment prohibitions against compelled speech and compelled association, and cites private sector examples as well as public sector.

The replacement of Kennedy, who announced his retirement shortly after the union decision was handed down, will occur in the fall prior to the mid-term elections, promised Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and will be Trump’s second appointment to the High Court. McConnell and Senate Republicans refused to fill a vacancy that occurred during the last year of Obama’s term, teeing up, among other things, the 5-4 decision in Janus after an earlier case resulted in a 4-4 deadlock due to the vacancy.

“We should harbor no illusions about this terrible decision: it was the product of raw power politics, not constitutional deliberation,” said the Writers Guild of America East in a statement. “The Janus decision is part of a cynical scheme (which included the U.S. Senate’s stunning refusal to consider a nominee to replace Antonin Scalia in 2016) to deprive public sector labor organizations of the basic ability to sustain themselves, financially.”

Added the statement, “Score one for the plutocrats, who have won an ugly victory at the expense of the people who build our roads and teach our children and fight our fires.”

“The Court made the wrong decision; a decision in favor of increasing the power of employers at the expense of their workers,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. “This ruling is a direct attempt to weaken unions, the very organizations who allow workers to speak together as one, to have a voice in their wages, their safety at work, and their healthcare and retirement.”

The Janus decision not only allows workers not to pay dues or so-called agency fees to a public sector union, it also requires that no agency fees — non-member (or “financial core”) fees in lieu of dues — be collected without the non-member’s affirmative consent. Structuring the requirement as an opt-in rather than an opt-out is likely to further diminish such payments.

IATSE’s president warned that private sector employees would be next.

“Soon, all working people, not just those in the public sector, will face the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s actions, in the form of diminished bargaining rights and weaker contracts,” said Matthew D. Loeb, the union’s international president. But he vowed to fight. “We didn’t need permission to fight back against the robber barons of the Gilded Age, and we do not need it to fight back against the robber barons of today.”

“Private sector unions, including those in entertainment and sports, have good reason to fear that they will be the next target,” said Greenberg Glusker’s Daniel Stone, a management-side labor attorney who was previously assistant general counsel at the Directors Guild of America.

Indeed, the use of private sector scenarios in Janus suggests that conservatives may build on the decision to attack private-sector unions too. But there is a political channel open too: with control of both houses of Congress, the White House and the courts, little would seem to prevent Republicans from pushing yet again for nationwide “right-to-work” legislation, which would have virtually the same effect on private sector unions as the Janus decision has on public sector labor organizations.

Heavily unionized Hollywood is something of an anomaly, since union jobs only constitute about 6.5 percent of private sector jobs in all, much lower than the public sector figure of 34.4 percent. Both of those figures have been declining for decades, and that trend seems likely to accelerate now. When and how that red wave will reach Hollywood is unknown.

Read the full statements from SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and WGA East below. The DGA, WGA West and American Federation of Musicians had no comment for this article.

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SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris:

“The Court made the wrong decision; a decision in favor of increasing the power of employers at the expense of their workers. Without engaged workers, union protections become more vulnerable. This ruling is a direct attempt to weaken unions, the very organizations who allow workers to speak together as one, to have a voice in their wages, their safety at work, and their healthcare and retirement. The Supreme Court’s decision directly overturns a decision made by the Court in 1977. Have workers lives improved so much that unions can now be so blatantly attacked? Are workers all better off now? Are employers sharing in their success with all those who make them successful? No.

“This shameful decision only serves to strengthen our resolve to find ways to protect working families in this country. Now more than ever as professionals, we must come together and renew our commitment to speak as one. To be strong in the face of all attempts to minimize us. We know that fighting for a better life for you and your family is what unions do. It’s time for unions, and the workers who make them vibrant and strong, to show this court and those who would attack and diminish working people that this is unacceptable. When workers come together, workers win, and that did not change today.”

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IATSE international president Matthew D. Loeb:

“This terrible decision is a sign of our times and the political mess in which we find ourselves. Soon, all working people, not just those in the public sector, will face the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s actions, in the form of diminished bargaining rights and weaker contracts.

“This is a dark day for all of organized labor, but we can and we must continue to press back against this ongoing assault. We must continue to grow and strengthen our unions through organizing, no matter what the laws are. We didn’t need permission to fight back against the robber barons of the Gilded Age, and we do not need it to fight back against the robber barons of today.”

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The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE):

“We should harbor no illusions about this terrible decision: it was the product of raw power politics, not constitutional deliberation. The Koch Brothers and their hard-right-wing allies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in recent decades to undermine the ability of working Americans to fight for themselves, to have a voice on the job, to win terms and conditions of employment that make it possible to support a family and pay the bills.

“The Janus decision is part of a cynical scheme (which included the U.S. Senate’s stunning refusal to consider a nominee to replace Antonin Scalia in 2016) to deprive public sector labor organizations of the basic ability to sustain themselves, financially. Score one for the plutocrats, who have won an ugly victory at the expense of the people who build our roads and teach our children and fight our fires.”

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/hollywood-guilds-blast-supreme-court-s-anti-union-decision-1123817

 


Okay,  something I never said back in my DJ days.  “And there you go guys and gals another Blast from the Present!”

Arl

The Ol’ SAG Watchdogt

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