Accuracy in Media

A case argued before the Supreme Court this week threatens the financing of public-sector unions, but according to the mainstream media, it means even more.

According to Barrett Holmes Pitner, a writer at the Daily Beast, it is “an extension of the numerous attacks upon minorities engulfing America.”

The case, Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, challenges the practice of public-sector unions charging dues or agency fees to nonmembers who benefit from their bargaining.

Its facts are nearly identical to Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, in which an elementary school teacher challenged the requirement she pay dues to an organization with which she, as a fundamental Christian, disagreed.

The court voted 4-4 on that case following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia and is expected to overturn the 40-year-old ruling in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that allowed the payments, “effectively turning the public sector into a ‘right to work’ zone,” according to Vox.

This would be good for workers, who would not have to pay to support political views they disagree with. It would be good for taxpayers because public sector unions drive up the cost of government significantly but provide little in the way of value.

But it would be bad for Democrat political candidates because reducing the money in public-sector-union coffers would mean less financial support, fewer campaign workers and more resources devoted to organizing strategy and attracting workers than contributing to political campaigns.

“Those pressures could be particularly significant for people of color, who have benefited greatly from membership in public-sector unions,” Vox reported. “Union leadership and labor experts note that unions have played a historical role in the integration of the workforce and in providing opportunities to African Americans in the Jim Crow South. But they argue that unions continue to play a significant role in making wages and labor benefits more equal across racial and gender lines.”

Vox says Janus “argues that because public-sector unions enter into bargaining agreements with the government, all of their activity should be seen as political.” Actually, what Mark Janus, the Illinois healthcare worker who filed the suit, argues is that money is fungible, and money given to the union can be used for political advocacy with which he disagrees regardless of its declared intentions.

As the piece admits, “the exact effects of such a decision aren’t entirely clear” because there is “no straightforward way of assessing the direct impact of free-riders on unions, although there is evidence that unionization is lower in the 28 states that currently have right to work laws.”

The mainstream media refers to people who are forced to join unions but do not subscribe to their political views as “free riders.”

“Unions argue that the fees that Janus and others like him are required to pay are necessary for union operations, and that workers, particularly the workers of color disproportionately represented in public-sector unions, will be harmed if the court rules in his favor.

“’A weaker union is going to be less able to protect its workers, and the people who basically need the most protection are those who are usually discriminated against,’” it quoted Janelle Jones, an analyst for the Economic Policy Institute, as saying.

Black women could be especially hard hit because of their high levels of participation in public-sector unions and the fact there is less pay disparity between men and women in union jobs, Vox said.

Martin Luther King Jr. hated right to work laws, which forbid requiring union membership on a job. The laws were invented to combat unions, Vox reported, because they “incorporated ending segregation into their messaging.”

“Today, jobs in the public-sector unions that are threatened by Janus provide the single greatest employment opportunity for African Americans,” Pitner wrote.

“If right-to-work is the law of the land in the public sector, it’s going to have very negative impacts on people of color,” Vox quoted Lee Saunders, the current president of the union being sued.

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