Union members vow unity after Supreme Court vote


(These people rally at Watsonville Plaza, in concert with others around the nation Wednesday to voice concerns about a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on organized labor. Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — Members of SEIU Local 521 joined elected officials across the country Wednesday to declare their resolve to stick together in their union.

Rallies held around the country, including in Watsonville, Salinas and Santa Cruz, were spurned by the U.S. Supreme Court delivery of a long-expected decision in the Janus case.

The Supreme Court ruled that government workers can’t be forced to contribute to labor unions that represent them in collective bargaining, dealing a serious financial blow to Democratic-leaning organized labor.

The court’s conservative majority, re-empowered by Justice Neil Gorsuch, scrapped a 41-year-old decision that had allowed states to require that public employees pay some fees to unions that represent them, even if the workers choose not to join.

The 5-4 decision not only will free non-union members in nearly two dozen states from any financial ties to unions, but also could encourage members to stop paying dues for services the court said Wednesday they can get for free.

“Nothing’s going to stop my co-workers and me from fighting for good, union jobs and providing quality public health services for our community,”  said Matt Nathanson, a public health nurse for Santa Cruz County. “We’re proud to stand strong with working people of all races, across California and the nation.”

While about 20 people gathered in Watsonville Plaza, more than 50 assembled in Salinas and about 50 gathered at the Town Clock in Santa Cruz to shout out their concerns and wave signs.

“No matter our differences, most of us want pretty similar things,” said Anna Rodriguez, a family child care provider in Watsonville. “Just as women across our nation are standing up to demand respect in workplaces and the public sphere, so too are union members bolstered in our fight to protect and strengthen unions because we know it’s the way to fight poverty, achieve better working conditions for all families, and provide better care for our kids.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this article.


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