In the wake of a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court prohibiting public sector unions from forcing non-members to pay dues, Councilmember Justin Brannan held a rally on the steps of City Hall on June 28 and charged that the high court’s move will seriously damage unions and threaten the middle class.
The Democrat, who represents Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst, said he planned to introduce a City Council resolution to call on New York State to allow the city to provide an income tax credit to workers who pay union dues to “soften the blow” that unions are expected to be hit with as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“Now more than ever, we need to make it easier not harder for people to join and support their unions. And we can do that with an income tax credit,” Brannan said.
The Council is pushing for a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for workers paying union dues.
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in the case of Janus v AFSCME overturned a previous Supreme Court ruling from 1977 that had permitted public sector unions, like police, fire and teachers’ unions, to collect dues from non-members for the purposes of collective bargaining.
Workers who refused to join unions said they did so because they objected to having to pay dues to a union that often endorsed political candidates they do not support. The non-union workers charged that forcing them to pay union dues violated their First Amendment rights.
The Supreme Court agreed.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion for the court. The decision, which was announced on June 27, dealt with a case in Illinois, but will have nationwide ramifications.
“Under Illinois law, public employees are forced to subsidize a union, even if they choose not to join and strongly object to the positions the union takes in collective bargaining and related activities,” Alito wrote in the majority opinion. “We conclude that this arrangement violates the free speech rights of nonmembers by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.”
Brannan charged that the decision handed a “major win” to corporate special interests in a way that will allow them to erode the hard-fought rights of workers.
Calling labor unions “a force for economic stability and a pathway to the middle class,” Brannan said the Supreme Court’s decision, “undermines workers and jeopardizes labor unions.”
Brannan’s resolution has already won the support of Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
New York City is home to the largest number of union workers in the country, according to Johnson, who said the city will continue to fight for the rights of workers.
“While I am deeply disappointed in this Supreme Court ruling, I am comforted in the knowledge that our past and present have made us uniquely qualified to handle this challenging moment in time. New York’s unions will not only survive, they will shine a light for the rest of the nation to follow in these dark times,” Johnson said.