If US unions tumble, the progressive movement could go with them

Protesters in support of unions outside of the Supreme Court, on Monday in Washington. The Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could deal a blow to organized labor.

This week the US supreme court may have given the Koch Brothers yet another tool to help them achieve something they have been dreaming of for decades: weakening the power of public-sector unions.

Oral arguments were held on Monday 26 February on Janus v AFSCME, a case that some have called the most important labor case of the century. The aim of the plaintiff’s case is to eliminate “fair share fees”, dividing public sector workers and limiting their power in numbers. If the supreme court finds in favor of the plaintiff, as they are widely expected to, public sector unions will no longer be able to collect fees automatically from the employees they represent, and these unions’ ability to operate will be dramatically undermined.

This lawsuit is part of a coordinated effort from far-right groups supported by funders like the Koch brothers to “defund and defang” US unions. A 10-page fundraising letter from the Koch-backed State Policy Network, obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy, says that by undermining unions, they can ensure “the permanent collapse of progressive politics”.

The billionaires behind this coordinated effort want to weaken unions and drive down wages and benefits for working people in order to line their…

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