Union Leaders Have Harsh Words For President And Supreme Court After Janus Ruling

Jun 28, 2018

Some of New York’s union leaders had harsh words for President Trump and conservative judges on the U.S. Supreme Court, in the wake of the ruling that sided with an Illinois worker, Mark Janus, who did not want to pay union dues, even though he benefited from union bargained contracts. 

They were at a press conference with Governor Andrew Cuomo Thursday afternoon.

Civil Service Employees Association President Danny Donohue called the President a “lunatic.”

“I know some people named Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin that he could have mentored,” Donohue said.

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew had harsh words for the five members of the Supreme Court who ruled against the unions in the case.

“I will pray for all of them when they are burning in hell,” Muldrow said.

Governor Cuomo, who was to sign an executive order to benefit unions, looked a bit uncomfortable.

The order shields the personal information of public workers from the state’s Freedom of Information Law, in an effort, the governor says, to prevent harassment from anti-union forces.

Cuomo, asked later whether he agreed with the union leaders’ comments, said only that Donohue had expressed himself “forthrightly and clearly” but says he has “significant political differences” with the President.  

Later in the day, Cuomo took another step that he said will protect unions. He signed an executive order that will shield the personal details of state workers, like their address and phone number, from the Freedom of Information Law, so that anti-union forces cannot have access to the workers. Those details are not commonly released on FOIL forms.

On Long Island, teachers say the decision was not unexpected. 

Christine Corbett, president of the Westbury Teachers Association, says she has been educating her members on the benefits of the union.

“They will not, and they don’t want to go it alone. So, they are informed. They are very intelligent and they see this for what it is. They see this as an agenda to strip them of their rights, and their ability to earn a fair wage.”

Perry Fuchs, president of the Plainedge Federation of Teachers in North Massapequa, says his leadership team has been educating members about the value that unions bring "and we now have 100 percent of our members signed up to continue in the Plainedge Federation of Teachers for next year.”

Other leaders say this will make unions work harder to educate members on the value they provide.

In Connecticut, union organizers say they’ll persevere in the face of defeat.

Shellye Davis, a paraeducator in the Hartford Public Schools and the president of the Greater Hartford Labor Coalition, told a rally Wednesday that unions will continue to make the case for membership.

“We’ve been organizing to build the strength to protect our rights and our freedoms, no matter how this lawsuit was decided. Our message has been clear, we are not, and I said we are not, going to back down to any court decision. Even one from the highest court of the land.”

Taffy Womack, as an administrative assistant for the state of Connecticut and the president of AFSCME Local 704, says African-Americans and Latinos have been able to boost their earnings through union membership.

“Union jobs have historically been a path to the middle class for people of color. I’m here to tell you, the forces behind Janus are not going to sink us. Not today, not tomorrow, not next year, not ever.”

The implications of the ruling could be far reaching in Connecticut, where public sector contracts rely on the collective bargaining rights of unions.