Hope for Labor in a Post-Janus World

Today the U.S. Supreme Court announced its long expected decision in the Janus vs. AFSCME case.  As predicted, the Court aligned with its Koch Industries’ sponsored lapdogs in the Republican Party to undermine public sector employees.  Public employees remain the strongest bastion of the organized U.S. Labor movement, accounting for 49% of all unionized workers in the U.S.

At Jobs With Justice, we see hope in times of great moral crisis, and many in and out of our labor movement will certainly see today’s decision as reason for dismay.

Here are 5 reasons why we are hopeful at this moment for worker organizations:

  1. People like us! Public support for unions is higher than its been in 15 years, the result of young workers entering our low wage economy under huge debt loads, the #MeToo movement, and many other factors.
  2. We’ve joined the rest of world! Union shops are already outlawed in most of the rest of the world.  Including countries we think of as having strong, free, labor unions.
  3. The Red State rebellion! The public school teacher strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arizona have dramatically changed the stakes- in states that outlaw not just union shops but collective bargaining for public employees.
  4. We’re (getting) ready! The threat of the end of union shops has shifted union culture to focus more on organizing members and less on providing services.
  5. Organizing the Unorganized! Many sectors of the retail industry such as big box stores, restaurants, and fast food chains have long been considered “unorganizable” by traditional labor tactics like NLRB organizing.  But unions who are engaged in grassroots labor struggles and winning, such as the Burgerville Workers Union, are proving that when we fight and follow workers’ leadership, we win.

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*Side note: Several weeks ago on the Portland Jobs With Justice Facebook page we asked our followers where they were finding hope for organized labor in a post-Janus world, here’s what the community said!

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