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December 2015

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Supreme Threat

As 2015 draws to a close, unions are under attack, and from the same bunch who have been at it for years.

Early next year, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case most people have never heard of, but one that could do enormous damage to your collective bargaining rights. Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association threatens to undermine public employee unions by eliminating the fair share fees that non-members pay when we negotiate on their behalf.

A ruling against the teachers union in this case would essentially make right-to-work the law of the land for all public-sector employees, from City Hall up to the federal level, causing serious pain to the labor movement everywhere, including among our own tens of thousands of public employees. At the IBEW, a ruling against labor could affect linemen at public utilities, police officers, district attorneys and other state and municipal staff.

That, of course, is exactly what the case's sponsors want. The anti-worker Center for Individual Rights actually begged judges to rule against them time and time again just so they could speed this case to the Supreme Court.

These are the same groups, backed by the billionaire Koch brothers and their CEO friends, who are pursuing right-to-work laws designed to tear us down all over America. We recently beat them back in Missouri, and now they're showing they're not satisfied letting voters and their elected representatives decide for themselves. Instead, they're using their money and influence to try and backdoor right-to-work into law through the courts.

And don't think for a minute that a negative ruling is only bad for public employees. A decision for the Friedrichs plaintiffs could set a dangerous precedent for the rest of our members in the private sector as well.

Over the next year, we'll be talking a lot about the elections, and cases like these are what's at stake. The next president could be responsible for replacing at least three of the Supreme Court's justices, and we can't afford to let corporate bigwigs reshape the court for decades to come.

The Koch brothers don't trust hard-working Americans to decide what's best for themselves, so they've vowed to spend nearly $1 billion in 2016 to silence you and stack the court with ideologues determined to see the end of labor rights. Together, we're going to take our country back.


Also: Stephenson: An Investment in History Read Hill's Column

Salvatore J. Chilia

Salvatore J. Chilia
International Secretary-Treasurer