* Press release…
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) submitted today its brief on the merits of the corporate-backed Supreme Court Case, Janus v. AFSCME Council 31.
Enclosed you will find the merits brief that AFSCME submitted to the Supreme Court today, along with a summary of this brief. If facts, law, and precedent matter, all nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in favor of working people in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 – just as they did more than 40 years ago when they found the state and local governments’ system of ordering their labor relations to be constitutional.
Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 is nothing more than a politically-motivated assault on the freedom of working people to earn a better life and an attempt to further rig the rules in favor of billionaires and corporate interests. In these turbulent times, marked by division and attacks on fact and reason, we hope the Supreme Court will consider carefully the facts, precedent, decades of labor peace and stability, and the motivations behind those seeking to undo it.
Now more than ever in the modern era, Americans must be able to trust their governmental institutions. Just as millions of Americans who rely on public service workers to keep their water clean, care for their families in hospitals, and respond to their emergencies quickly and professionally, millions of public service workers now rely on nine Supreme Court justices to decide this case on its merits — not on the ideological animus of the billionaires and corporate interests who are funding this blatant effort to silence the voices of workers.
The brief is here.
* From its introduction…
In Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977), this Court confirmed the constitutionality of “fair-share fees” to finance collective-bargaining activi- ties of unions obligated under state law to represent both union members and non-members. Abood should be reaffirmed.
Abood accords with the First Amendment’s original meaning, which afforded public employees no rights against curtailments of free speech in the workplace setting. Overturning Abood would thus mark a radical departure from the original understanding of the Constitution. Abood also aligns with more recent jurisprudence deferring to government management decisions by upholding public employers’ rights to limit employee speech as contrasted with citizen speech. This Court’s application of Abood to other non-employment contexts highlights its stature as foundational First Amendment precedent.
Nearly half the States have relied on Abood in their labor-relations systems. Currently, 22 States permit fair-share fees for public employees, two (Michigan and Wisconsin) permit agency fees for some public employees, and 26 States prohibit fair-share fees or public-sector collective bargaining completely. As this diversity of viewpoints reflects, the Framers’ design functions well when States are “laboratories of democracy.” State legislatures often debate these issues and periodically change their policies. Overruling Abood would remove this issue from the people and their elected representatives and override their policy judgments about managing public workforces.
Petitioner asks this Court to upend the collective-bargaining systems of many States – in a jurisdictionally flawed case without any record – based on numerous unsupported and inaccurate factual assertions. For example, petitioner claims all collective bargaining is inherently political and employees choose not to join unions because they object to the union’s collective-bargaining positions. Those assertions are false – and unsupported by an evidentiary record.
This Court’s jurisprudence should rest on evidence, not fiction, and arise out of cases over which the Court has subject-matter jurisdiction, which is lacking here. If the Court considers re-evaluating Abood necessary, it should await a case with a factual record that does not require overruling or ignoring a century-old jurisdictional rule.