The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear a case, brought forth by plaintiff Mark Janus, which aims at ending mandatory union dues for all public-sector workers. The lawsuit argues that mandatory union dues are a violation of the first amendment. While the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is the primary union named in the lawsuit, a ruling against the mandatory collection of dues by unions would have detrimental effect on all public-sector unions and workers.
What Mark Janus and others alike fail to realize or choose to ignore, is that union dues are an economic necessity fueling the mechanism that collectively bargains and fights for the way of life that we as union members grip so tightly onto for survival. Has it been forgotten that our brothers and sisters before us sacrificed and fought for the wages, benefits and better tomorrow that we have today? Is it now assumed that everything we have was given to us overnight and at no cost at all? When our union leaders can no longer prevent that slightly open local hall door from closing and the lights from turning off, who is it assumed will carry on our fight?
Unions are and have been, under attack. While other anti-union cases have been brought through the lower level courts and even the U.S. Supreme Court, the Janus case may be the most threatening to date.
In relation to this case, the word “injustice” has been used to describe the act of collecting union dues from workers who do not want to belong to their workplace union. The only “injustice” lies within the workplace that is void of union representation, void of fair wages and reliable benefits, void of respect and equality, and void of the chance of its workers attaining the American Dream.
We must educate and unite all workers, union and non-union alike, as none are immune to the attacks on today’s working class. We must speak for those without a voice and repeat the words of those who have gone unheard. We must be proactive not reactive, assertive not timid. Now more than ever, we must fight. Fight as if life as we know it is on the line, because it is.