The major unions representing commercial airline pilots and air traffic controllers have denounced the US Supreme Court’s June 27 decision barring public-employee contracts that require workers to pay union dues.

Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) president Tim Canoll described the ruling as “the latest in a long series of attacks against unions by those who desire to undermine workers’ wages, benefits and bargaining power.”

“As the world’s largest pilot union, ALPA has not been immune to attempts to diminish our unity. For decades, workers have been fighting back against efforts to silence our collective voice, and today, we are more unified than ever,” Canoll said in a statement.

“Throughout the years, one fact remains true for North American workers—the unshakable power of unionism,” he continued. “The unified labor movement built the middle class, and unity remains the key to its survival. Unity also holds the key to prevailing over future challenges—and we will not break.”

Canoll was joined by National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) president Paul Rinaldi, who said his organization stands “in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who represent state and local government employees throughout the country.”

“We are dismayed that the Supreme Court would overturn four decades of well-established precedent,” he added.

Because the case only concerned state and local public-employee contracts, it does not directly affect ALPA or NATCA. Canoll, however, argued that the “assault against unions will continue across all sectors, including our own.”

“Their fight is our fight, and it is a fight we must and will win,” Canoll said, adding: “We will continue to work with elected officials to protect workers’ rights and ensure that the value of unions is never forgotten.”

The case was centered around plaintiff Mark Janus, a child-support worker for the Illinois State Government, who objected to a monthly payroll deduction to AFSCME Council 31, the union that negotiated his contract with the state.

The Court, in a 5-4 ruling split along party lines, determined that such compulsory public-employee contracts violate the free speech clause of the First Amendment.

“Compelling individuals to mouth support for views they find objectionable violates that cardinal constitutional command, and in most contexts, any such effort would be universally condemned,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the Court’s majority opinion.

Ben Goldstein ben.goldstein@aviationweek.com