LOS ANGELES – Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), issued the following statement on today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision undermining the effectiveness and strength of public sector labor unions:

“Today’s 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME is another right-wing, tortured misreading of the First Amendment to bolster the power of the wealthy, individual and corporate, in our country. The decision is a blow to collective action, both formal and informal, undermining some of the critical tools of social change upon which the Latino community, as so many others, has relied and still relies.

“The immediate impact of today’s majority decision will fall upon public sector unions, which have forged and defended a path from working poor to middle class that many Latino families have followed. On a personal note, I grew up as the son of two public sector union members. My father was a longtime member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and my mother was a member of the California School Employees Association (ESEA) for many years. I know that my path to a legal career would have been many times more difficult but for these unions’ protection of our family’s livelihood.

“Public sector unions have, in recent decades, also been strong and staunch supporters of civil rights and anti-discrimination efforts. These efforts, as much as anything, are what made the public-sector unions a right-wing target, resulting in today’s decision.

“Like Citizens United before it, Janus will immediately become an epithet and rallying cry as people work to minimize the decision’s effect and to restore a fair and true reading of the First Amendment. MALDEF is committed to support those efforts.”