BOSTON — The state’s two Democratic U.S. senators have come down strongly on the side of unions in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court that could undermine labor unions that represent government workers.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Monday at a rally in downtown Boston that the case shows working people in America are under attack.
“For years, big corporations, billionaire donors and their Republican allies have launched one assault after another against unions and against working people. It has been a coordinated attack,” Warrens said to several hundred union workers and supporters.
Warren pointed to the decision by Senate Republican leaders not to hold hearings on former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee and instead hold the seat open before approving President Donald Trump’s pick, Justice Neil Gorsuch.
“Why did they do it? So they could get their nominee onto the Supreme Court and today they’re hoping to cash in on their investment,” Warren said. “We are here today to call on the supreme Court to make the right decision. Instead of doing the bidding of those with money and power, the court can defend justice for the workers.”
The rally came the same day the court heard arguments in a challenge to an Illinois law that allows unions representing government employees to collect fees from workers who choose not to join.
The case involves Illinois worker Mark Janus, who argues he has a constitutional right not to contribute anything to a union with which he disagrees. Janus and the conservative interests that back him contend that everything unions representing public employees do is political, including contract negotiations.
The court split 4-4 the last time it considered the issue in 2016 following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Gorsuch has yet to weigh in on union fees.
Sen. Edward Markey also said the case shows that working people are under pressure.
“Make no mistake, Donald Trump and his Republican Party want to break every single union that exists today and make sure that no one can organize tomorrow,” Markey said.
Markey said it is critical for Democrats to regain a majority in the Senate in the November elections “so that Donald Trump cannot name any additional anti-union Supreme Court justices.”
The Trump administration is supporting Janus in his effort to persuade the court to overturn its 1977 ruling allowing states to require fair share fees for government employees.