News Releases

Senator Murray joined Senate, House Democrats to decry impact of Supreme Court’s Janus decision on working people’s ability to join together to improve their workplaces, introduced legislation to reverse decision’s effects

Legislation would establish clear right for public sector workers to unionize, act concertedly, and bargain collectively throughout the country

Senator Murray: “Unions and the people they represent aren’t going to stand by and watch. They are going to organize, fight back, and make their voices heard”

Tacoma News Tribune: “Supreme Court decision on public unions has big implications in Washington state” – LINK

(Washington, D.C.)  – In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 that will weaken public employee unions’ ability to negotiate with employers for fair pay, safer working conditions, better benefits, and more, today U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), top Democrat on the Senate labor and pensions committee, introduced bicameral legislation to guarantee the right for public employees to organize, act concertedly, and bargain collectively in states that currently do not afford these basic protections. In addition to Senator Murray, U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), along with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), U.S. Representatives Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Bobby Scott (D-VA), and David Cicilline (D-RI), and nearly 50 Senate and House Democrats signed on to the legislation.

“Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision was a loss for workers, and yet another win for corporate special interests that have spent decades chipping away at workers’ rights and fighting to dismantle unions,” Senator Murray said at a press conference introducing the legislation. “But unions and the people they represent aren’t going to stand by and watch. They are going to organize, fight back, and make their voices heard—and that includes fighting for workers’ rights and representation—and Democrats are proud to stand with them. I am proud to join Senator Hirono to cosponsor the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act. This is one more important step Democrats are taking to stand up for workers and their unions, and build an economy that works for all—not just those at the top.”

The Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act will ensure public sector employees across the country have the legal right to form and join a union and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing over wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. Public employers are also required to recognize their employees’ union and to commit to any agreements in a written contract. The bill reaffirms that it is the policy of the United States to encourage collective bargaining as a way of promoting stable, cooperative relationships between public employees and their employers. The Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act is included in Democrats’ “A Better Deal,” an economic agenda to help build an America in which working people know that somebody has their back, and the legislation is supported by the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, and the Service Employees International Union.

(Click here to download the full text of the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act. Click here to download a fact sheet on the bill.)

Full text of Senator Murray’s press conference remarks, as prepared for delivery:

Thank you Congressman Cartwright.

Before I address yesterday’s Supreme Court decision, I want to say that right now, there are people across the country who are deeply, and rightly, worried about how Justice Kennedy’s retirement affects their day-to-day lives.

They will have questions for the Trump Administration and every Republican who decides the people don’t need a voice now that President Trump is in charge—after blocking President Obama’s qualified nominee.

They’ll have questions like—what will a Trump Supreme Court nominee mean for my coverage if I have a pre-existing condition?

Will my daughter grow up without the right to make her own decisions about her own body?

The issue at the core of what we’re discussing today—will I be able to stand up for my rights at work—including my right to join a union?

And so much more.

Women and men nationwide know exactly how much is at stake.

So do Democrats here in the Senate—and we are going to push Republicans to agree that we should wait for voters to weigh in before moving, according to Senator McConnell’s own rules, and also join us in rejecting nominees that would take us so dramatically backward on issues that are so important to who we are as a country. 

Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision underscores how important this is.

It was a loss for workers...

…and yet another win for corporate special interests that have spent decades chipping away at workers’ rights and fighting to dismantle unions.

But unions and the people they represent aren’t going to stand by and watch.

They are going to organize, fight back, and their voices heard—and that includes fighting for workers’ rights and representation.

And Democrats are proud to stand with them.

For more than a century, unions have organized to lift up the voices of workers who were otherwise unheard, and fought for fair pay,  safer working conditions, and better benefits.

Unions helped create the 40-hour work week, end child labor, and strengthen the middle class—and unions are still empowering workers in cities and states nationwide.

We know that where there are unions, all workers benefit, and we know that unions are still the most effective pathway to the middle class.

So I am proud to join my colleagues to cosponsor the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, and I especially want to thank Senator Hirono for her leadership on this legislation.

This bill guarantees our public employees—teachers, nurses, first responders, librarians, and more…

…the basic right to organize and bargain collectively—in every state across the country.

This is one more important step Democrats are taking to stand up for workers and their unions—and build an economy that works for all, not just those at the top.

Earlier this month, we introduced the Workers’ Freedom to Negotiate Act…

A bill to level the playing field for private-sector workers by strengthening their bargaining power and their right to join a union and be treated fairly on the job.

Our economy only works when it works for everyone…

And I urge all of our Republican colleagues—who claim to care about the economic security of the middle class—to join us in standing up for unions, working families, and the middle class.

And I urge people across the country to stand up and make sure Republicans know the stakes of this Supreme Court vacancy, why it matters to them in protecting their rights and freedoms, and what they want Republicans to do about it.

Thank you, now I’d like to turn it over to Congressman Scott.