Why was Betsy DeVos at a Supreme Court hearing about the fate of workers unions?

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We might as well start with a shared foundation — Michigan billionaire and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is basically known for being a garbage person. Not only is she pretty much a moron, but her richer-than-god family has reportedly worked to set up meetings between Russia and the Trump administration prior to the 2016 election.

She's also spent much of her adult life working to privatize the public school system, a move that's been proven to be detrimental to both districts and students.

We're not saying she bought her way into the administration, but it does seem startling that despite having a hilariously moronic confirmation hearing during which she mentioned "poe-tential grizzlies" as a reason to have guns in schools, she's now helming the entire country's education system.

Have we gone a little off the rails?

OK, let's get back to business.

The Washington Post reports that DeVos, who has been a vocal opponent of teachers unions in the past, slipped into a Supreme Court hearing to listen in on arguments being made in the Janus v. AFSCME case. The case is a pretty big deal — some are speculating it could impact the future of public-sector unions.

The case is being brought by Mark Janus, a guy who, as a nonmember, says mandatory union dues violate his First Amendment rights and he doesn't want to pay them.

According to The Post:
A 1997 Supreme Court decision, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, said that public-sector unions could charge and collect fees from non-union members to help defray the cost of collective bargaining and other activities. Non-union members, however, do not have to pay for union political activities in which a union may engage. Janus argued that he was being forced to pay for political activities that he opposed. Actually, non-union members paying “agency” fees are required to sign a letter every year saying they don’t want to be connected to those activities and can get a refund.
If the Supreme Court rules in Janus' favor, public sector unions could be weakened, possibly sparking a financial crisis. With less money, unions would lose bargaining power, and thus employers could begin to reduce health-care and post-employment benefits that unions typically bargain for.

So, why was Ms. Betsy there?

Well, it should come as no surprise that a woman who has benefited enormously from late stage capitalism would have a vested interest in dismantling workers unions. She also famously "forgot" to list a $125,000 donations she bequeathed to an anti-union political organization when filling out her Senate disclosure form. That committee "successfully opposed a ballot initiative that would have enshrined collective-bargaining rights in the state constitution."

While DeVos has said she is not working toward privatizing public education, she has been a vocal advocate of the school choice system, a program that could effectively "bust" teachers unions as most charter and private schools are not unionized.

About The Author

Alysa Zavala-Offman

Alysa Zavala-Offman is the managing editor of Detroit Metro Times. She lives in the downriver city of Wyandotte with her husband, toddler, mutt, and two orange cats.
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