US senator Bernie Sanders, who says he intends to run the first âunionised presidential campaign in historyâ, has announced that if elected he will enact legislation to ban the USAâs right to work laws.
âWhen billionaires like the Koch brothers spend millions of dollars successfully lobbying for so-called âright to workâ for less laws, they are waging a war on workers,â the Vermont senator said in a speech to the International Association of Machinists union.
Just more than half of U.S. states currently have some form of law banning unionised workplaces from negotiating contracts which require all members who benefit from a union contract from paying dues.
Based upon the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, such laws can now be found in 28 states and in Guam, and they have spread with heavy lobbying from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and prominent Republican donors such as the billionaires Koch brothers.
âWhen we are in the White House, we are going to pass the Workplace Democracy Act that I will be re-introducing in the Senate,â Sanders told the union.
In a huge blow to unions last year last year, a sharply divided Supreme Court ruled in the case ofÂ Janus v. AFSCMEÂ that government-employee unions could not force non-member workers to pay bargaining fees â thus enshrining a âfreeloaders charterâ.
âThis year we have seen a right-wing think tank try to follow the disastrous Janus decision with another court case that could essentially impose right-to-work on the airline industry. In a Bernie Sanders administration, that will never, ever happen,â he said
The mandatory fees banned by theÂ JanusÂ decision had been in place for more than forty years under the 1977 Supreme Court precedentÂ Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, Justice Samuel Alitoruled was as a violation of the First Amendment â the right of association.
In a dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wrote ruefully: âThe First Amendment was meant for better things.â
âIt was meant not to undermine but to protect democratic governance – including over the role of public-sector unions,â she wrote at the time.
President Donald Trump celebrated that decision in July 2018 tweeting in his inimitable manner : âSupreme Court rules in favour of non-union workers who are now, as an example, able to support a candidate of his or her choice without having those who control the union deciding for them. Big loss for the coffers of the Democrats!â