ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Members of some of the largest labor unions in the country gathered at a rally at the Minnesota State Capitol Saturday.
Organizers called for an end in policies that believe could hurt the union and state government employees.
Their call for action comes just days before the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a case that could diminish the power that many unions hold.
“One must have a sense of moral outrage at any social injustice, and as a business owner I can tell you I’m outraged,” said small business owner Chad Deley.
The case stems from a lawsuit filed by Mark Janus, an Illinois state employee. The suit challenged the authority of AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) and other public-sector employee unions to collect fees from non-union workers.
Organized labor leaders say that any loss in funding would weaken union influence.
“The powerful special interests behind the Janus case in the supreme court are out to stop us at all costs,” said Mary Cathryn Ricker, the vice president of the American Federation of Teachers.
Anti-union groups argue that imposing fees violate a worker’s first amendment rights.
“This is a pro-freedom, not anti-union case,” the Center of the American Experiment, a local think tank said in a statement. “For several decades, public employees have been second-class citizens under the law. They are forced to pay fees to a union in order to keep their jobs, even if they have moral or political objections to how the union represents them or spends their dues.”
In a fight over fees, the future of the union could now be determined by the nation’s highest court.
“We know that unions are one of the critical tools that we use to say: we are united, we are together, we stand together and we know that the people united can never be defeated,” said St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter.
There are roughly five million public sector workers who provide millions of dollars annually to unions.
The U.S. Supreme Court took on a similar case two years ago, and it ended in a deadlock. The nine justices will take up this case Monday.