By Sikivu Hutchinson
Across Trump nation, neofascists are licking their chops, as this week saw several titanic rulings that will forever cement the Trump era Supreme Court as the mortal enemy of human rights, civil rights, and worker rights. In a sweeping blow to humanistic values, the Court upheld the Trump administration’s travel ban policy targeting mostly Muslim countries and diminished public employee unions’ ability to collect dues to support collective bargaining. By upholding the travel ban, the Supreme Court has put a lasting legal imprimatur on Trump’s xenophobic/Islamophobic crusade to demonize Muslims as racial and religious others. Posing as an objective advocate for “religious liberty” the Court’s earlier decision affirming the right of so-called crisis pregnancy centers (which are primarily run by far right Christian anti-abortion organizations and are not medically certified) to hoodwink their clients about abortion and reproductive health care services was also an insidious harbinger for Roe v. Wade's demise. While the crisis pregnancy ruling was embraced by right wing Christian, predominantly white evangelical groups, they remained silent on the immorality and religious McCarthyism symbolized by the travel ban.
The Court's anti-union ruling in favor of Janus vs. AFSCME would enshrine so-called “Right to Work” laws that favor management and corporate control. The Right to Work movement (28 states now have such laws) has been bankrolled by powerful robber barons like the Koch Brothers and the Bradley Foundation. It has origins in white segregationist efforts to drive a wedge between black and white workers in the South. As Holly Martins notes in The Daily, the legacy of the movement encompasses the ultra-conservative John Birch Society, as well as “the influence of Biblical capitalism, which has long promoted the notion that the Bible endorses free enterprise and abhors socialism. The first executives in the National Association of Manufacturers argued unions were in open warfare against Christianity.” By gutting the right of unions to be compensated for collective bargaining and organizing, the Janus decision could reverse decades of gains for American workers. As the wages of corporate CEOs continue to skyrocket over those of rank and file workers, the public sector has become one of the last bastions of security for working class people of color and women of color. For example, Black women are more likely to be employed in public sector jobs than both white women and black men, while making 60 cents to the dollar of white men. They also remain one of the most visible and active groups in public sector union organizing.
As a L.A. County shop steward for ten years, I've seen the pre-Janus pall the Right to Work regime has cast on our workplaces manifest in the attitudes of employees too fearful or intimidated to become active in the union. Janus will have long lasting repercussions for the workplace protections, living wage, retirement and child care provisions unions have fought for and successfully won over the past half century. Unions have long been a bulwark against the unchecked plutocratic profit and greed of American capital and the ability of workers across the spectrum. Now, the Right to Work regime and its Supreme Court enablers have further institutionalized a Dickensian, apartheid U.S. whose poverty levels are the shame of the globe.
Union Strong Rally
Thursday, June 28, 2018
10 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Los Angeles City Hall
200 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012