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The recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, has completely shattered previous predictions that the 40 year precedent of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education would be overturned by Friedrichs v. CTA. Current speculation says that there will be a 4-4 tie and a previous ruling to uphold Abood will be sustained.
To gain a better perspective on where this leaves unions, specifically at a state level, we sat down with our trusted Senior Advisor, Ron Krouse, to collect his thoughts on the chaos this court case has brought about.Krouse has nearly forty years of experience working in administrative, financial, and political capacities for Labor Union groups, including: the Communications Workers of America, Association of Flight Attendants, American Federation of Teachers, and the AFL-CIO’s Union Privilege.
He is dedicated to the difficult task of helping labor unions shift to new technology solutions in response to threats to workers’ rights and payroll deductions.
BH: Being in the labor movement for forty years, have you ever seen anything get as much attention as Friedrichs v. CTA and how do you think unions should be preparing and thinking about their next steps?
RK: There are an unprecedented number of attacks against the very existence of public employee unions, concentrated in states with opposing governors and legislatures. The form of the attacks is multifold. If Right-to-Work (RTW) for less does not already exist in a state, legislators are gunning to have it passed.
BH: We’re starting to see legislation around Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions. This has already happened in Michigan and legislation is being introduced in Pennsylvania. Even though the legislation will most likely not pass in Pennsylvania, how could this trend affect labor unions? What are the first steps that organized labor should take to internally set up a strategy to combat these types of systematic attacks?
BH: With the recent passing of Justice Scalia, reports are saying Abood v. Detroit Board of Education will be upheld, what do you think the impact will be across states?
RK: Scalia represented a point of view that all analysts presumed would lead to a vote in favor of Friedrichs. Nationwide Right-to-Work for less would have been the result of a Friedrichs win. In the wake of the death of Scalia, there is less concern about Fredrichs. Now it is presumed there will be a 4-4 tie. The outcome of this case is no longer the likely boogie man. Labor has hopefully dodged a bullet for now, but this doesn’t mean that our adversaries won’t try to shoot again, early and often.
WE, the people represented by unions, need to localize concern…especially in states with opposing governors and legislatures to combat this multifaceted coordinated attack. It would be against the best interests of unions and their members to drop the ball at this crucial moment. They have to be ever vigilant of the special interests working against working men and women. There should be a continued call to arms.