WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, issued the following statement in response to the Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31.
“Freeloading is not a core American value, but a bare majority of the Supreme Court Justices have now made it possible for millions of public-sector workers to get the protections and benefits of strong collective bargaining without paying their fair share for that representation. I find this decision an outrageously partisan bending of the law and an attack on middle class Americans. As Justice Kagan said in her dissent, the Court’s ‘decision will have large-scale consequences … More than 20 States have statutory schemes built on the decision. Those laws underpin thousands of ongoing contracts involving millions of employees…And maybe most alarming, the majority has chosen the winners by turning the First Amendment into a sword, and using it against workaday economic and regulatory policy…The First Amendment was meant for better things. It was meant not to undermine but to protect democratic governance—including over the role of public-sector unions.’
“Congress now must restore the rule of law and take action to restore fairness and equity so that those employees who receive the strong benefits of banding together with fellow workers contribute their fair share to support and improve our communities for all. American unions helped build our country and our middle class. Working people should have the freedom and the right to join together in strong unions to improve their workplaces and earn wages and benefits that can support a family.
“It has been appalling to watch as extremists have attacked unions and hardworking Americans for their own personal profit or partisan gain. Republicans in Congress have schemed shamelessly with President Trump to pack the courts with activist judges seemingly vetted only by advocacy groups intent on eviscerating the ability of public sector workers from forming unions and engaging in collective bargaining.
“This latest decision can be directly blamed on blatant obstruction by Senate Republicans who refused to give President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a hearing despite a vacancy that spanned over a year and left our highest court deadlocked on critical issues. Veering down this dangerous path has inflicted lasting damage on the Supreme Court and the independence of the federal judiciary while diminishing the powers and duties of the Senate.”
Senator Cardin is an original cosponsor of Senator Hirono’s bill, the “Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act of 2018.” Introduced Wednesday, this legislation aims to support public service employees across the country by reaffirming that it is the policy of the U.S. to encourage collective bargaining as a means of promoting a stable and cooperative relationship between public employees and their employers. Senator Cardin also is an original cosponsor of Senator Murray’s “Workers’ Freedom to Negotiate Act of 2018” (S.3064) that reaffirms the National Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C. 151 et seq.) and strengthens protections and basic rights for workers.