Equality California Joins Amicus Brief Urging the U.S. Supreme Court to Protect the Rights of Unions

Los Angeles - January 31, 2018  -Today, Equality California announced that it has signed onto an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief with The National Women's Law Center, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and 85 additional organizations in Janus vs. the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The brief urges the U.S. Supreme Court to stand by the rights of unions, who provide crucial professional and economic opportunities for workers in the United States, including for women, people of color and the LGBTQ community.

Mark Janus, a state government worker in Illinois represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, sued the union in question because he believes he should not have to pay fees to support its work. However, these fees are required because such workers still benefit from unions through the collectively bargained salaries, pensions and other benefits that the unions have secured.

"Unions have been an important ally of LGBTQ workers," said Executive Director of Equality California Rick Zbur. "LGBTQ people suffer economic disparities compared to the general public. LGBTQ people, who are also women, people of color or transgender people, are particularly vulnerable to discrimination and poverty. Unions have helped improve the working conditions and achieve living wages for their LGBTQ members and non-union LGBTQ workers. This case has the potential to weaken unions across the country, which would harm the often overlooked and underrepresented minority communities that unions represent and protect."

The brief argues that unions provide invaluable aid and protections for their members, especially for women and people of color, and that those protections exist to benefit non-union members in the community as well. It also says that based on the Court's previous ruling in Abood in Harris v. Quinn, workers should be required to pay for their fair share of union representation.

 "…LGBTQ workers do not have consistent and universal legal protections against discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Only 20 states and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination on both grounds for all employees," says the Brief. "Unions, however, have frequently bargained to protect LGBTQ workers. For example, within the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which is a party to this case, over 1,000 union contracts prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and many include gender identity language."

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra also has filed an amicus brief in support of the rights of unions, along with the Attorneys General in Vermont, New York, Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

The full amicus brief is available here.

Equality California is the nation's largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.eqca.org

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