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Schumer: Janus 'Gut Punch' To 50 Years Of Progress

United States Senator Charles Schumer
Senator Charles Schumer
United States Senator Chuck Schumer

Democrats, including New York Senator Chuck Schumer, gathered today in Washington to introduce a measure in response to Wednesday’s 5-4 Supreme Court ruling they say will weaken the bargaining power of public-sector unions.

The high court’s so-called "Janus ruling" found it unconstitutional for unions to charge “agency fees” to employees who aren’t members but benefit from collective bargaining.

On Thursday, Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Democratic Congressman Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania introduced the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act to ensure that public sector employees across the country are able to form and join a union and engage in collective bargaining with employers. Senator Hirono: "It sets federal minimum standards that every state, every state in this country must meet to provide these basic rights to our public employees. These standards include the right of employees to organize and form a union. These are not normal times. We all need to come together to fight back against this all-out assault on working people."

While Janus vs. AFSCME plaintiff Mark Janus' lawyers tell Politico their next step is to ensure the ruling is implemented, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer vows Democrats will "fight hard to undo" the Janus decision.   "When it comes to the lives of middle-class Americans and those struggling to get there, the Janus decision is a gut punch to working people across America. It's a gut punch to income equality. It's a gut punch to 50 years of progress. It's a despicable decision. And the court reached out to overturn 40 years of precedent on a flimsy, almost made-up first amendment justification to meet their ideological needs."

Schumer, a New York Democrat, says the greatest problem in America is that middle-class incomes are not keeping up with the cost of living.   "The golden age of America was when America was unionized, and middle-class incomes and pensions and health care advanced. But now the hard right wants to take it away. They know they could never pass this stuff, even in a conservative House and Senate and so they used the one elected body, the one non-elected body, the Supreme Court."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi characterized the Supreme Court as "Supreme Corp" and handmaidens of corporate America. Schumer and his fellow Democrats are also focusing on the high court’s future makeup following conservative justice Anthony Kennedy’s resignation at the end of July.   "What happened in the Supreme Court shows why we must not have another hard right Supreme Court nominee who will not follow precedent and put their own ideological stamp on issue after issue. Janus illustrates that and should be a clarion call to working people to make sure that another nominee who will do that, and you can be sure that anyone who made that list of 25 culled by the Federal Society and the Heritage Foundation will move to remove even more worker's rights. We will fight it all the way."

Despite the Democrats' concerns, unions are not exactly on their death beds yet: recent Pew and Gallup Polls show that 60 percent of the public has a favorable view of unions, and that number rises to 75 percent among millennials.

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