Actors’ Equity Association and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society are speaking out against the Supreme Court ruling on public unions, as organized labor groups face political pressure across the country.
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that nonunion government employees cannot be made to pay fees to public sector unions. Though this ruling does not directly impact private sector unions, both Actors’ Equity and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society saw it as an attack on any kind of unionization.
“Today, the Supreme Court issued a decision that is a blatant attempt to take away the freedom of working people to join together in Union. Equity stands with our brothers and sisters across the country who are fighting against a system that is rigged in favor of special interests and big corporations,” Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity Association, said in a statement.
In the court case, Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against an existing policy in which government unions could collect “agency fees” or “fair share fees” from non-union members, because their negotiations affect those employees. The argument from Mark Janus, an Illinois public sector employee who brought forward the case, was that being made to contribute money to a union he may not agree with politically violates his First Amendment rights.
“It is the American worker that the Supreme Court is now letting be silenced by private interests, but we will not be silent. The directors and choreographers who make up the membership of SDC pledge solidarity and support to righting this egregious wrong,” Laura Penn, executive director of SDC, said in a press release.
Equity, which represents 51,000 actors and stage managers, pledged to “organize” and “fight back” against attempts to weaken unions. This includes fighting against a “right to work” law in Missouri that would mean no worker can be required to join a union or pay dues to a union as a condition of employment.
The union is organizing its members to vote against the proposition, which will be on the Missouri ballot on Aug. 7.