open shop america
Update, June 27: As expected, today the Supreme Court ruled against the union in Janus v. AFSCME District 31, invalidating agency fees. This makes the whole public sector open-shop. Coming soon: the Labor Notes guide to organizing in open-shop America.
Hostile forces are poised to encourage public sector workers to ditch their unions as soon as the Supreme Court rules on the Janus v. AFSCME case in 2018. To stave off a big exodus, many unions are asking workers to commit to keep paying dues. If you’re active in your union, leaders may even be asking you to “sell” membership to your co-workers.
New York City building trades unions are in a fight that hits at the very core of their jurisdiction: big commercial office buildings.
At $4 billion and 2.9 million square feet, 50 Hudson Yards will be the city’s most expensive and fourth-largest office building. And it’s just one of 16 skyscrapers slated for Hudson Yards, the largest private real estate development in U.S. history. This sprawling redevelopment of a former railyard is reshaping a section of Manhattan’s West Side, while employing an estimated 23,000 construction workers over the course of a decade.
Two years ago Tennessee’s billionaire governor Bill Haslam, then the richest elected politician in the country (now it’s Trump), quietly initiated the largest and most radical restructuring of public services in the state’s history.
His plan was designed in secret and written as an executive action, deliberately excluding legislators and the public. It would outsource every one of the state’s thousands of facilities management and service jobs—at campuses, parks, even armories—every custodian, maintenance worker, electrician, plumber, painter, and groundskeeper.
The whole public sector will likely become “right to work” next year, barring another miracle at the Supreme Court.
Once the conservative majority rules in Janus v. AFSCME, likely before June, life will change for unions in the 23 states that till now have rejected right-to-work laws. Public sector unions in those states will no longer be able to collect “agency fees” from workers whom they represent but who choose not to join their locals.