Supreme Court won't have the last word on worker rights

In Janus v. AFSCME, the US Supreme Court's conservative 5-4 majority held that public employees cannot be required by state law to pay a fair share of the cost of services that unions must provide members and nonmembers alike.

Janus comes a month after Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, where the same majority decided employees can be required by companies to submit all workplace grievances to private arbitration and waive their rights both to go to court and join together in class-action lawsuits.

With these two decisions, the court erodes procedures of peaceful collective activity central to workplace law for more than half a century. And it weakens efforts to secure fair treatment at a time of soaring economic inequality. But consequences unintended by the court may follow: new legislation to curb the use of arbitration and greater constitutional protection of labor protest.

Janus uproots an entrenched principle of labor law.

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