The Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME will likely create another major obstacle for African-American, female government workers, hurting some of our most vulnerable employees.

African-American women already have two major disadvantages as they apply for jobs: being black and female. State jobs and union protections have often given black women entrance into the middle class.

It’s easy enough for Mark Janus, a white man, to believe he doesn’t need a union. Others who aren’t as privileged, including black women, recognize the need for strong unions to fight on their behalf and to prevent employers from taking advantage of them.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that black women are the largest demographic within public unions. This is because unions help narrow the wage gap.

According to the BLS, black women who aren’t represented by a union earn 67 cents for every dollar a white man earns, but black women represented by a union earn 72 cents for every dollar earned by a white man. Unions are desperately needed to continue this progress.

So, while the governor and his business buddies are high-fiving the decision, the black community that Rauner claims to care so much about stand to be the most hurt by his single-minded obsession with taking down unions.

We as state leaders must continue to fight for the rights of all workers, including our black women. 

Sen. Kimberly A. Lightford (4th), Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Chairwoman