By James Wright
Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer
President Obama and other Democratic leaders expressed concerns about the Supreme Court’s ruling Monday that some government employees do not have to pay fees to the labor organizations representing them.
Obama, who won both elections with the support of organized labor, said that collective bargaining is a fundamental right that helped to build America’s middle class.
“The ability of public servants to collectively bargain is crucial to ensuring both a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work and the high quality service citizens expect and deserve from their government,” Obama said.
The president said that the court singled out home care workers as not being liable for union dues and fees, which he called unfair and used his home state as a model.
“The collective bargaining model in Illinois resulted in fairer pay and benefits for hardworking caregivers as well as improved training, safety and health protections and tools to help those who need care find it,” he said. “The court’s decision will not only make it significantly harder for these dedicated employees to get a fair shake in exchange for hard work, but will make it harder for states and cities to ensure the elderly and Americans with disabilities get the care they need and deserve.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said that the decision is a blow to organized labor and the American worker.
“Many of the basic workplace standards and protections that we take for granted as Americans are thanks to the efforts of organized labor,” she said. “These benefits have been sought and achieved on behalf of all workers, regardless of whether or not they’ve paid union dues. I fear that this decision will seriously diminish the capacity of labor unions to represent the best interests of American workers who have fought for and won significant progress on wages, benefits and working conditions, and jeopardize the progress that has been made over the last century.”
Democratic candidates generally are the recipients of organized labor’s financial and organizational support. Labor supports not only extended collective bargaining rights but increased wages for non-salaried workers, improved workplace protection in terms of employment and on the job site and stronger benefits employment packages for workers such as a comprehensive medical and dental care, tuition reimbursement and time off from the job for essential family activities.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, the president and CEO of the National Action Network, also criticized the court’s decision.
“By limiting their [workers] ability to automatically deduct dues, workers will once again suffer while the corporations maintain their own protections and privileges,” Sharpton said.
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