NEA President: Supreme Court silences voices of working families
Washington, DC - June 30, 2014 -
The Supreme Court of the United States today struck another blow against working families with its narrow 5-4 decision in Harris v. Quinn when it eliminated agency fee arrangements for Illinois home healthcare workers. By casting doubt on case law that has been settled for decades, the Court’s ruling also creates insecurity and instability for employers and unions throughout the public sector. Harris v. Quinn was brought by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTW), a political group whose extreme agenda seeks to weaken the power of working people.
At issue in the case was whether non-union members could reap the wages, benefits and protections negotiated in a collectively bargained contract without needing to pay their fair share. The National Education Association, joined by California Teachers Association and Change to Win, filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court to expose the truly radical nature of NRTW’s arguments and underscore their audacious claim that public-sector collective bargaining itself is constitutionally suspect.
The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:
“Quality public services, economic stability and prosperity starts with strong unions, but today the Supreme Court of the United States created a roadblock on that path to the American Dream. This ruling jeopardizes a proven method for raising the quality of home health care services—namely, allowing home health care workers to join together in a strong union that can bargain for increased wages, affordable health care and increased training.
“Americans count on quality public services provided by public employees like educators. We need workplaces, including public schools, where front-line employees have a voice. Today’s decision shuts the door on one proven method for ensuring that public sector workers’ voices are heard. At a time when we are just starting to dig out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, we should be creating an economy that works for all of us—not taking radical steps that undermine the rights of public workers while creating uncertainty and instability in the workplace.
“As a high school teacher and coach for 23 years, I saw how the entire team benefited when we all worked together. With today’s ruling, the Supreme Court took away the fairness and camaraderie that comes with working in a team. Agency fees are a common-sense, straight-forward way to ensure fairness and protect equity and individual rights. Every educator who enjoys the benefits and protections of a negotiated contract should, in fairness, contribute to maintaining the contract. And fair share simply makes sure that all educators share the cost of negotiations for benefits that all educators enjoy, regardless of whether they are association members.
“Despite today’s decision, we know that public sector workers will continue to organize—in public sector bargaining states and non-bargaining states, in agency fee states and right to work states—because public sector workers know that a union is the best way for all of us to ensure good schools, quality public services and economic prosperity.”
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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.
CONTACT: Staci Maiers, NEA
(202) 270-5333 cell
CBS News Update on Supreme Court Rulings, including Harris v Quinn, June 30, 2014
- Harris v. Quinn Supreme Court Decision (PDF, 341KB, 68pgs)
- NEA Amicus Brief (PDF, 343KB, 48pgs)
- POLITICO: Harris v. Quinn ruling: Unions hit, but not fatally, by SCOTUS
- KUOW.org: A ‘Death Knell’ For Public Sector Unions? Not Yet
- NEAToday.org: With ‘Harris’ Ruling, Supreme Court Silences Voices of Working Families