Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) "strongly disagrees" with the Janus decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, a campaign spokesman said, after Democratic Congressional candidate Perry Gershon said Zeldin ducked a question about it at a telephone town hall earlier this month.
Zeldin on the July 17 phone call had been asked his thoughts on the decision, which ended required payments to unions by workers who opt out of joining the labor organization.
Zeldin said both his parents and stepparents were involved in unions and noted the First Congressional District's blue-collar roots. "As far as the Janus decision goes, I think it’s really important that we protect the ability of Americans to be able to organize, to be able to have strong effective leadership in their unions, to be able to achieve advancement to protect workers and I also think it’s important to understand that one state to the next, we don’t want Michigan to be telling us and their Representatives to be telling us in New York what we are going to set as our own policies," he said.
Gershon accused Zeldin of not directly answering the question.
Zeldin's response featured the "nonanswer talking points they teach yes-men in Washington, D.C.," Gershon said in a news release. He noted Zeldin's support from conservative donors, such as the Koch brothers, who have advocated anti-union legislation.
Zeldin campaign spokesman Chris Boyle said the congressman has made his position clear in past meetings and forums with union leadership and defended his statement on the town hall.
He said the answer "directly explains what troubled him most about the Janus decision which he strongly disagrees with: harming the ability of Americans to be able to organize, harming the ability to have strong effective leadership in their unions, and stepping on states' rights to set these policies."
The campaign pointed to a number of early labor endorsements, including from the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association, the Plumbers Local Union No. 200 of the United Association of Journeyman & Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada, and Transport Workers Union of America New York and New Jersey State Conference.
Gershon, in response, said, "I am glad to see Congressman Zeldin finally coming out on the right side of this issue, but rhetoric isn’t enough." He said he should advocate for legislation that would protect unions.