Reprinted from Jacobin by Dave Kamper on November 17, 2017.
On November 13, the US Supreme Court threw out a case that would have ended public-sector unions entirely. Unlike Janus v AFSCME — the other anti-union case that SCOTUS is hearing — Hill v. SEIU wasn’t just a challenge to fair-share fees but to the very right of a union to be the exclusive representative of public-sector employees.
“Exclusive representation” lies at the heart of American labor law. Following the proper procedural hurdles (usually a card drive and a secret-ballot election), a union is granted the sole right to represent workers in a particular worksite or to a particular employer. Without it, employers have no obligation to come to the table with unions; collective bargaining becomes nearly impossible.
Unions across the country are likely relieved to have dodged such a direct attack on their existence. But they shouldn’t get too comfortable. As Janus shows, the Right’s more subtle tactics could be their most effective. …