by Félix Pérez
This Saturday, February 24, thousands of people across the country will stand up to CEOs, special interests and politicians who don’t want educators joining together to advocate for better schools, more resources for their students and stronger communities. At issue is Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, a case before the U.S. Supreme Court that, contrary to long-standing precedent, would establish that non-union members who share in the wages, benefits and protections that have been negotiated in a collectively bargained contract are not required to pay their fair share for the cost of those negotiations.
Take Action ›
Pledge to stand up for students in Election 2018. Click here ›
Part of a multi-year, multi-million-dollar effort to take away the freedom of – and opportunity for – working people to join together in strong unions to speak up for themselves, their families and their communities, Janus is being orchestrated by the legal arm of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. The foundation, which has close ties to the Koch brothers, has four “Koch associates” on its litigation team.
Just as telling as the corporate CEOs and billionaires funding the case are the candidates running for governor this November who share the Kochs’ anti-worker philosophy and who want to rig the rules against everyday working people. Here they are.
ILLINOIS GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER
Janus originated from a failed attempt by billionaire Rauner to take away the freedom of working people to join together in strong unions so that he could advance an agenda benefiting corporations and the wealthy. In his first year in office, Rauner traveled across the state pitching his ALEC-derived right to work proposal. His so-called right to work bill wasn’t able to garner a single vote in the state House of Representatives, going down 0-72. He filed a federal lawsuit on his own behalf to bar the collection of fair share fees by public service unions. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Liberty Justice Center were able to carry the case forward by planting plaintiffs as stand-ins for Rauner in the lawsuit. The district court dismissed the case. The plaintiffs asked the lower court to fast-track their appeal and rule against them in order to more quickly get the case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL SCHUETTE
Schuette was attorney general in 2012 when Gov. Rick Snyder signed a right-to-work bill into law. The month the bill became law, he spoke out in its favor. Schuette later filed court documents saying the law applies to unionized state government workers. The filing was in response to a lawsuit by a coalition of labor unions. Republican leaders rammed through the law without any public input or amendments. Workers said the law was a politically motivated attack on their rights by Snyder and GOP leaders appeasing their wealthy donors and anti-worker business titans David and Charles Koch.
PENNSYLVANIA SEN. SCOTT WAGNER
Wagner, a strident opponent of unions of working people, set off a firestorm by comparing public sector unions to Hitler and Russian President Vladimir Putin while running for re-election in 2014. He later said his comparison was an “unfortunate analogy.” Wagner was the driving force behind legislation in 2015 that singled out unions by prohibiting voluntary automatic dues deductions, which allow teachers, nurses, fire fighters, police officers and other public sectors workers from advocating effectively for adequately resourced public schools and job safety. His bill was defeated. In addition to his opposition to educators having a seat at the table to advocate for better schools and the resources their students need, Wagner has said some teachers earn too much, and he wants to eliminate benefits that educators earn, including sick days.
WISCONSIN GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER
Walker cemented his status as the national standard bearer for the special interests behind anti-worker laws in 2015 when he pushed right-to-work legislation that targeted the ability of private sector workers to have a say in their workplace. The governor signed the bill despite repeated announcements that he had no intention of doing so. “It’s not going to get to my desk. I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure it isn’t there . . .” Or, “I have no interest in pursuing right-to-work legislation in this state.” Walker has enjoyed the Kochs’ enthusiastic support for much of his political career. Koch Industries was one of the largest contributors to Walker’s first gubernatorial campaign, giving him $43,000, his largest out-of-state contribution. And Walker’s 2014 re-election campaign was one of the top recipients of Koch Industries cash.