Sen. Lesser Releases Statement on Supreme Court's Decision Rolling Back Collective Bargaining Rights

Also addresses Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement

SPRINGFIELD — Following today’s developments on the Supreme Court, including Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement and the Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME that rolls back workers’ collective bargaining rights, State Senator Eric P. Lesser issued the following statement:

“The very character of our country, and the dignity and rights of every person in it, is at stake in Justice Kennedy’s replacement. We will do our part to fight here in Massachusetts. But make no mistake: this is an emergency for our democracy and the rights that it safeguards.

“The Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME is a bad one for working families, and it will continue to increase the gap between the wealthy and those struggling to get by. While workers have not seen a raise in years, the wealthy and the well-connected receive tax breaks and loopholes to help them stay ahead.

“It is particularly disturbing that this decision overturned 40 years of precedent protecting the right of employees to demand better wages and better working conditions from their employers. This reversal is the result of decades of conservative assaults on some of the basic rights we take for granted. Instead of taking their case to the ballot box, where they know they will lose, they wage court battles with corporate-backed lawyers.

“Union organizers like my grandfather and father helped build America’s middle class. They fought with garment workers and longshoremen for fair pay, benefits like worker’s comp, and a reasonable work schedule. The job before us now is clear: We must organize again to save the middle class.”

In its 5-4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME, the Supreme Court ruled that public sector employees could not be compelled to pay union fees even though they benefit from the contracts negotiated between unions representing workers and their employers.

Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was appointed to the Court by President Donald Trump after the Republican-controlled Senate refused to hold a hearing on President Barack Obama’s nominee for 10 months, appears to have been the deciding vote.