Supreme Court decision against public unions, RI advocates on both sides weigh-in
After a landmark ruling handed down by the US Supreme Court this week ruling that non-union members in the public sector don't have to pay dues, supporters on both sides of the issue are weighing-in.
The 5-4 ruling said that making a public employee paying dues to a union they are not a part of is a violation of freedom of speech.
Before this,non-members would pay money to unions for certain protections, such as wage negotiations and filing grievances.
Mike Stenhouse with the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity said the ruling is a victory for the workforce and unions will now have to fight for members.
"We're not anti-union. We're not pro-union. We believe workers should have a right, but we believe unions shouldn't have such an enormous influence to block legislation and influence elections," Stenhouse said. "Unions are going to have to recast themselves, market themselves, and become more attractive."
But president of the Rhode Island State Association for Firefighters, Joe Andriole, said the ruling is a big blow to the middle class, but the fight for protections is not over.
"We're hoping this does the reverse of what the opponents want it to do. I'm hoping it energizes the labor movement," he said. "For someone to be able to get those protections and those rights without contributing, fundamentally, isn't fair."
Andriole does not believe the firefighter's union will be impacted at all, given the line of work they are in to look out for one another.
But Stenhouse believes the ruling could do wonders for teachers, including sparking a call for reform.