Skip to main content

What is at stake in Supreme Court ruling on Janus vs. AFSCME

Ken Jacobs, chair, UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education | June 22, 2018

Co-authored with Sarah Thomason

Monica Ruiz grew up the daughter of immigrant farmworkers in the Central Valley. Despite their hard work under grueling conditions, her parents struggled to make ends meet with the low wages they were paid. Monica joined her parents in the fields as a teenager and could have continued on a similar path. Instead, she found a union job in the Stockton public schools that paid a living wage and provided good benefits like health insurance and a pension.

Monica’s story holds true for thousands of other families across California for whom a union job has been the main path to the middle class. These stories demonstrate just how important unions have been for increasing economic mobility.

union workersThey also give us a glimpse of what we stand to lose if unions are weakened as a result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus vs. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.

Here are some of things my colleagues and I at the UC Berkeley Labor Center recently recently documented about unions through our report series, Union Effect in California:

Union workers earn 13 percent more when under a union contract than nonunion workers in similar industries with similar age and education. That translates to about $5,800 more in annual earnings for an individual worker, for a total of $18.5 billion across all union workers in California and $3.6 billion in the Bay Area. That is a significant boost not only for union families, but also for the local economies where they spend those additional dollars.

Union workers have better access to health insurance and retirement benefits at work with a union. Through collective bargaining agreements in California, 670,000 more workers have health insurance through their employer and 830,000 are offered a pension or retirement plan.

Union coverage increases race and gender equity in the workplace, although it does not eliminate gaps in wages, for example the gap between what a male and a female worker are paid for the same work. While all workers earn more and have better benefits under a union contract, women, workers of color and immigrants gain the most. African American workers earn 19 percent more, and Latino workers earn 40 percent, compared to 9 percent more for white workers.

Unions can reduce discrimination. Collective bargaining agreements often standardize wage rates across similar occupations doing similar tasks, and establish objective procedures for hiring and awarding raises and promotions. Union contracts narrow the wage gap between workers with different skills.

Union apprenticeship programs increase skill levels and open opportunities for workers without college degrees. Together, these measures reduce both wage differences for workers in the same occupation and occupational segregation within the workplace.

Union engagement in public policy has led to an even larger impact on working families — union and nonunion alike. In recent years California has passed a wide range of public policy measures that were initiated or backed by the state’s unions. In 2016, California passed a $15 minimum wage, which, when fully implemented in 2023, will improve incomes for 6.4 million low-wage workers.

Before 2014, nearly 40 percent of workers in the state had no access to paid sick leave at their job. Most are now guaranteed three paid sick days a year as a result of the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act. Other union-backed policies address workplace safety, protect against wage theft, and address sexual harassment on the job.

Unions’ engagement in policy is not limited to workplace protections. Other labor-backed efforts ensured continued school funding during the 2008-09 recession, protected patients from receiving surprise out-of-network medical bills, and created greater transparency in prescription drug pricing in the state.

The same organizations that brought Janus vs. AFSCME to the Supreme Court have worked for years to weaken private and public sector unions alike. Maintaining strong unions isn’t just an issue for union members — it affects all of us.

Originally published in the San Francisco Chronicle, June 22, 2018

Comment to “What is at stake in Supreme Court ruling on Janus vs. AFSCME

  1. Now a days many Indian industries are getting issues due to lack of skill of the management as well as resource skill. each and every engineers or each and every managers should learn everyday something new so that skill will be develop but in India thing very different if , person got job he will work routine job every day and he will not learn anything.

    If you compare japan and american country everyday they do something and they are innovative. if you see our history also our legends also not at all innovative , if we are innovating before British attack to Indian we should have good weapon than British weapons.

    Like same indian industries also like this only , you just see in the world for the IT industry , why only america doing startup why not other country apple , Facebook , twitter , Microsoft , google ect… no one can overtake that company because we are depends on those facility, these called continues improvement.

    Let’s pledge today if working any company be innovative and do some value added work every day so that , India and Indian industries became mature and they can give computation to international companies .

    There very few companies are recognized internationally like Tata , wipro , Quest Ect. apart from that no companies are not giving computation internationally.

    Why some Indian companies are in Top level

    There is reason behind , i will tell why . if your working in MNC company you may heard bench mark work , what is the bench mark. if you maintaining all the process in standard level and your business partners are happy with your facility and so that your company impression will good and became bench marking company.

    What are standard things required became bench marking company?

    If your company want to became bench marking company, they must adapt Lean manufacturing Technics , 5S , visual factory management should be exist if these are well maintain in industry so that automatically company became bench mark.

Comments are closed.