News Release

SC Janus Case: Culmination of Prolonged “Attempt to Kill Public-Sector Unions”


Ed Pilkington in the Guardian writes: “A 20-year campaign by right-wing billionaire donors to undermine trade unions and strike a blow at the progressive movement in America comes to a climax on Monday, in a hearing at the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Lenchner and Wallner are with National Nurses United, which held rallies last Thursday about the case — Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke at the Chicago rally. The group states: “The case, solicited and bankrolled by billionaires and corporate executives, is intended to weaken public sector unions by encouraging employees in unionized public sector workplaces to refuse to pay dues — while they enjoy the rights and benefits of a union contract and representation.

“A not-so-hidden goal, which matches anti-union ‘right to work’ laws for private sector workplaces pushed by the same groups across the U.S., is to decimate unions financially, crippling their ability to effectively challenge employer abuses against workers and the public, and bankrupting their ability to advocate for public policies that benefit all working people. Without a union, employers have free reign to exploit their unprotected workers.”

Bottari is deputy director of the Center for Media and Democracy and just wrote the piece “Behind Janus: Documents Reveal Decade-Long Plot to Kill Public-Sector Unions” for In These Times magazine.She writes: “The Roman god Janus was known for having two faces. It is a fitting name for the U.S. Supreme Court case scheduled for oral arguments February 26, Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31, that could deal a devastating blow to public-sector unions and workers nationwide.”In the past decade, a small group of people working for deep-pocketed corporate interests, conservative think tanks and right-wing foundations have bankrolled a series of lawsuits to end what they call ‘forced unionization.’ They say they fight in the name of ‘free speech,’ ‘worker rights’ and ‘workplace freedom.’ In briefs before the court, they present their public face: carefully selected and appealing plaintiffs like Illinois child-support worker Mark Janus and California schoolteacher Rebecca Friedrichs. The language they use is relentlessly pro-worker.”Behind closed doors, a different face is revealed. Those same people cheer ‘defunding’ and ‘bankrupting unions to deal a ‘mortal blow’ to progressive politics in America.”A key director of this charade is the State Policy Network, whose game plan is revealed in a union-busting toolkit uncovered by the Center for Media and Democracy. The first rule of the national network of right-wing think tanks that are pushing to dismantle unions? ‘Rule #1: Be pro-worker, not anti-union. … Don’t rant against unions. … Using phrases like “union fat cats” and “corrupt union bosses” and other negative language reduces support for reform.'””And yet, SPN groups have systematically spearheaded attacks on unions and workers in statehouses and courtrooms nationwide. The Janus case, and its precursor, Friedrichs v. the California Teachers Association, represent SPN’s most audacious move yet, an effort to kneecap the unions of public-sector workers — including teachers, nurses, sanitation workers, park rangers, prison guards, police and firefighters — in a single blow.”

Bottari helped launch CMD’s award-winning ALEC Exposed investigation in 2011 and is a recipient of the Hillman Prize for investigative journalism.