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Minnesota workers take to the streets after anti-union Supreme Court ruling

By Meredith Aby-Keirstead |
July 3, 2018
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Some of the participants in Minneapolis protest against Janus ruling.
Some of the participants in Minneapolis protest against Janus ruling. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Minneapolis, MN - Minnesota Workers United organized an emergency response protest, June 27, when the U.S. Supreme Court announced their anti-union ruling in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31. It started with a rally at the Teamsters Trucker Strike Memorial and was followed by a march of hundreds of workers through downtown, ending at the U.S. Federal Courthouse.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments regarding Janus vs AFSCME Council 31 in February and announced their 5-4 decision to rule against public sector unions on the court’s last day of the session. The court overturned the precedent from 1977, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, and ruled that public employees cannot be required to pay a fee to cover the union’s costs to negotiate a contract.

Cherrene Horazuk, the president of AFSCME 3800, helped organize the protest and explained, “The Supreme Court endorsed an attack on the rights of unions and workers by corporate interests. This will negatively impact working people and massively expand wealth inequality in this country. This risks taking Minnesota workers’ rights back 80 years, to a time when unions were practically criminalized. We will not be silent if they attack our right to organize together. Like the striking Teamsters from 1934, militant class struggle is how we will resist that happening regardless of the Supreme Court decision.”

Shane Clune, chief steward of AFSCME 2822, spoke passionately to the crowd, “Brothers and sisters, we were here to mark the passing of an era. The era of business unionism is over. Labor peace is dead. Today is our first day in a new world, and we must choose what that world looks like. Our unions have become shadows of their former selves. Though they were necessary and indispensable, they were insufficient to the task of advancing the status and worklife of working people. This is because we got complacent. Fair share fees paid for big organizations with lots of overhead.”

Clune continued, “We fell from solidarity, retired from fighting, and became just another fee-for-service organization, another business that wants workers money and spends that money lobbying Congress. We stopped helping each other fight, and delegated the fighting to others. Too often we told our members not to fight, to take a bad deal because fighting meant taking a risk. That is called labor peace, and we drank its wine to quiet our fighting spirit. Janus is our hangover. We cannot go back to the way things were. Good riddance.

“Instead we must look to how our brothers and sisters, past and present, have taken up the fight. We must look to the Pullman Strike, to Blair Mountain, to the Teamsters Strike that took place on this sacred ground. We must look to the teachers’ strikes, in West Virginia and across the nation. We must look to all of these to see how we must fight and win when the law does not recognize our rights. And like those brave workers, we must be ready to do what needs to be done,” Clune added.

Members from dozens of public and private sector unions in the Twin Cities came together for the protest. Activists pledged to continue the fight against corporate and government union-busting efforts and to strengthen the solidarity among workers by supporting each other’s fights.

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