In response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME this morning, leading economic and labor experts at The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank, released the following statements:

Mark Zuckerman, TCF President and former deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council in the Obama White House:

“There is no question that the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus hurts unions—but it need not cripple them. What happened today doesn’t change the fact that union members earn significantly higher wages and have better benefits than nonunion members, resulting in a wealth premium of more than a half million dollars over a lifetime. And despite the current relatively low levels of unionization, nearly 60 percent of all workers would join a union if they could. Today should serve as a call to action: we must do everything we can to better communicate to workers the benefits of unions, to make it simpler to join unions, and to innovate new approaches and platforms for union organizing.”

Richard Kahlenberg, TCF Senior Fellow and co-author of the book, Why Labor Organizing Should be a Civil Right:

“With today’s decision, the Supreme Court has dealt a blow not just to public sector unions, but to democracy itself. Unions serve democracy by providing a check on arbitrary government power, sustaining a middle-class society, and acculturating workers to democratic norms. At a time when many pillars of our democracy are under assault, we need to strengthen, not weaken, America’s trade union movement. One step Congress could take: amending the Civil Rights Act so that it prohibits discrimination against workers trying to organize a union.”

Andrew Stettner, TCF Senior Fellow:

“It’s no coincidence that the steep decline in union membership in recent years has occurred almost in lockstep with soaring inequality, wage stagnation, and millions more people unable to attain self-sufficiency. Research shows that nearly half of the decline in the middle class is due to shrinking rates of unionization. By undermining the bedrock concept of “fair share” costs of representation and bargaining, today’s decision creates a huge free-rider problem for public sector unions—and hurts the workers, families, and communities that unions serve. But as teachers from West Virginia to Arizona have shown, workers are fighting for their constitutional rights to protest unfair treatment on the jobs. The courts should follow.”

Moshe Marvit, TCF Fellow and co-author of the book, Why Labor Organizing Should be a Civil Right:

“Today marks a crowning jewel of a decades’ long conservative legal project to attack working people’s collective rights and political power. In ostensibly protecting the individual rights of the few workers represented by a union who don’t want to pay any fees, the Supreme Court has made it immeasurably more difficult for the majority of workers to form a union. Now more than ever, we need a law that protects and empowers workers who speak out to ask for raises, to complain about unsafe working conditions, and yes, to join unions.”


The Century Foundation (TCF) is a progressive public policy think tank that seeks to foster opportunity, reduce inequality, and promote security at home and abroad. Founded in 1919, TCF pursues its mission by conducting timely, nonpartisan research and policy analysis that informs citizens, guides policymakers, and reshapes what government does for the better. TCF is based in New York, with an office in Washington, D.C. Follow the organization on Twitter at @TCFdotorg and learn more at