Union Reaction to Expected Janus Ruling

Jun 18, 2018 by

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Janus case may be known before this commentary is printed. The union-busting conspirators are already taking victory laps around their lairs in anticipation of what is expected to be a crushing blow to the rights of public service employees.  That is the way it will be interpreted and it’s hard to argue against that view. But it would be wrong or at least not so simple.
Unions will not be driven down. They will be driven more than at any other time in recent history.
The dire consequences are overrated. No doubt there will be shock, just as there is when a grim prognosis comes to pass. There will be  grieving for unions similar to the stages of bereavement that are associated with a patient’s reaction and adjustment to news of a fatal illness.
But the Janus aftermath will be different. It will not be remotely lethal. It will be a bad, passing dream with a bitter hangover which will be lifted by the passage of time and aggressive strategy. It will lead inexorably to a primal militancy that has not been mentally entertained or practiced in the streets for a century.
There will be some short-lived, small-scale second-guessing of the mission and destiny of unions, even among their membership. But the rigid ideology-rooted biases of a few Supreme Court judges do not reflect the mindset of the nation any more than they do the purity of the Constitution.
The labor movement will not only recoup its losses, but reclaim its original religious fervor. The movement may have eroded but has not foundered. Janus will be a rude resuscitation.
The Janus case may have been jinxed by oral arguments heard last February. When Judge Kennedy set up defense counsel with the question of whether a defeat in the case would damage their political effectiveness, the only possible answer was in the affirmative. But if an essential elaboration was presented or allowed, there was no report of it in the press.
Lacking amplification, it was like a witness being ordered in court to answer, yes or no, whether she loves her only child when she has triplets.
If indeed no clarifying argument was heard, then the case was doomed because it hinged upon whether the unions were engaging in political expression without the consent of its membership.
Anybody with a brain who dwells in the real world knows that nothing meaningful in this country gets accomplished without the exertion of political influence, because that is where the power to do both good and ill resides.
For life-saving drugs to be available to desperate patients, there must be political action undertaken with the FDA.  For funding to be approved or laws to be established for preservation of infrastructure or protection of the environment or for any other enterprise to keep us afloat on every level of our micro and macro communities, the “name of the game” is political action.
To assert otherwise is naive idealism and delusion. Lobbying to achieve justice and progress is a sacramental rite.
It’s said that “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”  The Janus case was conceived as a mortal assault against the capacity of unions do exist as anything beyond a benevolent association of folks gathered together for barbecues and movie ticket discounts. How we react to its insult will defined who we are and whether we deserve to survive.
We will ace that test!
Ron Isaac
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