Philadelphia labor leaders protest Supreme Court unions decision

Pat Loeb
June 27, 2018 - 4:44 pm
Philadelphia labor leaders launched an instant protest to Wednesday's U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Janus case.

Pat Loeb | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia labor leaders launched an instant protest to Wednesday's U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Janus case. 

The court ruled government workers who opt out of union membership do not have to pay dues, even though the union negotiates for them. Local labor leaders vowed to stay strong in the face of the setback.

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About 200 union members assembled at the federal courthouse within hours after the decision, calling it an attack on workers.

"What they're trying to do to us as people is take our dignity, and it's not right and it's not fair," exclaimed one protester.

Anti-union conservatives brought the case, hoping to weaken the spending power of public sector unions, which are often the only counter-balance to big money PACs funded by the Koch brothers and other wealthy donors. 

"The Supreme Court thought that they would silence us. We're not silenced," said Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Jerry Jordan, who spoke at the rally. "We are going to be more committed to fighting for the things we fight for every day."

Bucks County labor leader Tom Tosti noted unions have been preparing for the decision, getting members to sign commitments to stay in and keep paying dues.

"We have to continue to resist because these people in D.C. and this Supreme Court cannot take down labor," he added.

Still, there are sure to be some workers who will take advantage of the opportunity not to pay dues, which would impact how much unions have to donate to pro-labor candidates.

But Mayor Jim Kenney suggested it could instead have a galvanizing effect.

"If nothing else motivates you and your friends and your families to vote in the next election, this is it, this is the last stand," he said.