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Supreme Court Case: Janus vs. AFSCME

What You Need to Know About Janus vs. AFSCME: The Most Important Supreme Court Case in Decades

When our patients or coworkers are in trouble, they look to us for help. But we can’t do it all on our own. That’s why thousands of nurses have chosen to join unions like ONA and exercise our rights to stand together to advocate for our patients and protect the things our families and coworkers need; including health benefits for our loved ones, a safe workplace and a secure retirement.

In 2018, our freedom to have a real voice in our practice and to negotiate a fair return on our work will be tested by a group of corporate lobbyists and wealthy CEOs who are bankrolling a U.S. Supreme Court case—Janus v. AFSCME—designed to take away workers’ freedom to come together and advocate for ourselves and our coworkers.

The Janus Case

Janus is part of an all-out assault on nurses and other public workers’ right to have a fair say on staffing and safety issues; wages and benefits, paid sick leave and fair retirements. If the Court rules in favor of Janus, it will likely end fair share provisions in the contracts nurses and other public service workers have agreed to; making it harder for nurses to stand together and easier for corporations to cut wages and health benefits, eliminate family leave and erode retirement plans.

Membership organizations like ONA can’t effectively advocate without committed members and financial resources. Right now, everyone benefits from strong contracts that provide health benefits, retirement security, and living wages, so everyone chips in to cover the costs. The Janus decision will flip that logic on its head; eliminating fair share fees in an attempt to slash union membership and cut our resources. It’s a blatant effort to try to prevent nurses and other public workers from standing together and advocating for ourselves, our patients and our communities.

While this anti-worker challenge is only likely to affect nurses in the public sector, if the Courts decide in favor of Janus, it sets the stage for the similar challenges in the private sector.

The Janus case will be heard by the Supreme Court in late February and a decision is expected before June.

Who’s Behind Janus?

All you have to do is follow the money. The Janus case is being pushed and financed by corporate CEOs and lobbyists, who know that when nurses and workers have the freedom to stand together in a union, there is greater freedom and opportunity for everyone, not just the wealthy and powerful.

We’ve proven over and over that when we come together, we’re successful. That’s how we won a statewide hospital nurse staffing law, expanded health care to cover 95 percent of Oregonians, raised wages and protected important health benefits and created safer workplaces.

Anti-worker groups like the so-called “Freedom Foundation” the National Right to Work Foundation, and the State Policy Network have seen our victories; Janus is their reaction. These anti-worker groups are using Janus to try to defund and destroy unions in the public sector to prevent you from having a real voice in what happens in your workplace or any public policies.

What Can I Do About It Now?

The Janus case is being heard in February and a decision is expected in spring. Between now and then, there’s a few easy steps you can take to make a difference and help preserve your voice in your practice.

  1. Join ONA as a member today.
  2. If you’re already a member, talk with your co-workers about why you joined ONA and why they should too! Your bargaining unit steward, leadership committee members, or labor representative can even provide you with an outline to help make these conversations successful!
  3. Click here to share your story with us about why ONA is important to you, your coworkers and your patients.
  4. Finally, come to your next bargaining unit meeting to talk with your labor representative about becoming an ONA steward or volunteering to serve on one of ONA’s boards, cabinets or research groups.

Ultimately, we will win or lose this fight because of your willingness to stand up and take action.

If we come together to grow our organization now, we will have the strength to negotiate fair contracts for our patients and our coworkers and fight back against anti-worker attacks at the state and national level. If we let Janus and other outside forces divide us, we’ll be forced to take whatever corporations give us.

We know what the right choice is. We look forward to standing together with you.

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