Supreme Court deals big setback to labor unions, local groups gather in Portland

FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2017, file photo, the Supreme Court in Washington is seen at sunset. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The Supreme Court issued a ruling in an Illinois labor case Wednesday that said public employees can't be forced to pay fees to labor unions that represent them in collective bargaining.

The decision in the case “Janus v. AFSCME Council 31” is expected to financially weaken unions and affect millions of government workers. | READ MORE

Union organizers in the Portland area are expected to gather around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in front of Portland City Hall.

Those in favor of the decision say it's a victory for freedom of choice and speech for workers who may disagree with a union position and decide not to support the organization financially.

Others like Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley say it is a blow to workers represented by unions.

"This is another movement away from a nation that works for working Americans. It's also the result of the theft of a Supreme Court seat that happened in 2016 and was completed in 2017. First time in our history that an empty seat was forwarded to the next administration by a majority in the senate without a debate and without a vote," Sen. Merkley told KATU News.

Several local politicians in the Pacific Northwest have voiced their opinions on the decision:

Oregon Governor Kate Brown:

The Janus ruling tips the scale in favor of wealthy special interests, yet again. Unions led the fights to raise the minimum wage, ensure fair pay and treatment in the workplace, and expand access to healthcare. In Oregon, we'll continue fighting for workers rights. (via Twitter)

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler:

"Unions are a powerful voice for workers and a crucial element of a fair economy. The City of Portland will continue to work with and value our unions, which help give power to working people in our community."

Republican gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler:

"This is a thoughtful decision for freedom, for taxpayers and the rights of workers to choose for themselves how they wish to be represented. As Governor, I will continue to work with hardworking state employees who everyday provide valuable services to Oregonians.”

Washington Senator Maria Cantwell:

“I am disappointed with the Court’s decision today, which undermines the ability of public sector workers to bargain collectively and undoes 40 years of established law.”

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley:

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