What’s Next for Labor Unions? Our Senior Advisor Speaks Up

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. CTACurrent 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.



BHBeing 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.

If a state is already RTW, then they will look for other ways to diminish the power of people represented by unions.  One of those ways is to make the deduction of payroll dues difficult.  We’ve already witnessed this in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Alabama, and it has been proposed in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma. The battle is likely to increase at the state level as it will be easier to push through there than by trying to pass national legislation.  The fight will continue state by state.



BHWe’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?

RK: This is a multi-front war. It is a coordinated attack by our adversaries to lessen the power of labor unions to speak out on behalf of their members.  If they can do it by RTW, they will, if they can do it by eliminating contributions to political action committees, they will.  This will continue to happen time and time again. One way to address this other than politically is to take the issue off the table.  Regarding PAC/COPE or membership dues being deducted from payroll, you need to take the power away from the employer.  If you can do that, then the union has a better way of controlling their destiny and not being at the mercy of the employer.  This would give the union a chance to control its own destiny.



BHWith 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.

About the author

Charlotte Muylaert is the former Marketing Leader at Billhighway and greekbill. She oversaw the marketing and branding strategies for 10 years in the fraternal and association markets.