Janus v. AFSCME Decision On Unions Means Workers and Consumers Need to Redouble Efforts for Accessible, Affordable Health Care

Today the United States Supreme Court on a 5-4 decision struck down a decades old precedent on public sector unions, with major health implications.  This decision is bad for the health and well-being of not just unionized workers, but all Americans. As Justice Kagan says in her dissent this decision uses the First Amendment as a sword that could go after not just labor laws but patient protections and more.

We are concerned that this decision may weaken many of our best advocates for accessible and affordable health care. The power of organized labor has been essential in victories in California to protect patients from the prices and abuses of drug companies, insurers, and other industry players. From banning surprise medical bills to reigning in skyrocketing prescription drug costs, the active support of California labor unions helped pass some of the strongest consumer protection legislation in the country. By limiting labor unions, this decision gives even more power to employers who want to shift more cost-sharing onto workers, and to Big Pharma, health insurers, and others looking to profit in the health care system.

California has been a beacon of progressiveness for many years, and this is in part due to an active labor movement, that is constantly striving to do the best by their members. Today’s decision threatens the future of progressive politics in this state.

Everyone who cares about health care should care about the vitality of our labor unions. Regardless of this destructive court decision, we believe unions will remain an important partner and leader in the work to advocate on behalf of consumers. We urge every worker to support their union for a healthier, more accountable, more affordable health system.