Teacher union leader reacts to Janus decision

CHARLESTON — A West Virginia union leader predicts an opinion handed down Wednesday from the U.S. Supreme Court will further strengthen the labor movement in the Mountain State.

West Virginia American Federation of Teachers President Christine Campbell told MetroNews that even though many see the Janus v. AFSCME as a blow to public sector unions, the opposite could happen here.

“We believe people will choose to join the union because they see through this attempt to stifle our collective voice,” Campbell said.

The Janus ruling says when non-members of public sector unions are required to pay fair share fees, their rights under the First Amendment are violated. The ruling is expected to hurt unions in collective bargaining states. West Virginia public worker unions don’t have collective bargaining rights. They can opt in or out of union representation.

Campbell said her union membership is growing, not shrinking. She said they are stronger than ever following the nine-day education workers strike from earlier this year. She said West Virginia is a great example that when given a choice public sector workers choose unions.

“We know here in West Virginia we count on our unions and that our unions will stick together and stand up collectively,” she said. “You can’t count us out because we are already in.”

Campbell said more education workers are opting in for union membership. She said AFT-WV and the West Virginia Education Association have a “super majority” of current education employees in the Mountain State as members.

“It’s because people are standing up right now for economic and social justice and the working class is just not buying what these millionaires are selling,” she said.

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