First published in March 2018. Jamie McLeod-Skinner has a long history of being courageous and speaking out to support unions and working families.
Unions need a strong voice
The recent guest column on the Supreme Court’s Janus case was an attack on unions paying people to lobby, written by a lobbyist paid to destroy unions. Ironic.
Consider what is at stake.
What do you enjoy about your community? Safety? Good schools? Parks? They don’t just happen. Public-sector employees do that work. Invisible, until something goes wrong, then they fix it. They are expected to be courteous when berated, and courageous when their lives are threatened. They just do it.
I’m talking about our firefighters, teachers, police officers, bus drivers, school janitors and city planners: the people who care for our families. Public sector unions are the organizations that look out for them while they are busy looking out for us.
Unions are one of many voices elected officials hear when deciding how to allocate limited public resources. Without their union, the interests of public-sector employees would likely be overlooked. Those unions are a long-term investment in the things we love about our communities.
The Janus case is about whether employees should pay for the union advocacy from which they benefit. How many people would choose to pay for something they get for free?
If public-sector unions lose their voice, compensation and working conditions for those jobs will diminish over time.
Government employers will have greater difficulty recruiting and retaining the people who help our communities function. An anti-union Janus ruling will ultimately impact the well-being, and the investments we have made, in our communities.