Janus v. AFSCME, a landmark Supreme Court decision in 2018 which determined that government employees cannot be compelled to pay union dues as a condition of employment, could be potentially be at risk according to a plaintiff and an attorney from the case.
Mark Janus, the plaintiff in Janus v. AFSCME, and Bill Messenger, a staff attorney at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, expressed some of their concerns about the durability of Janus.
Janus said, “I think at some point, yes, it may get back to the court for clarification purposes. That has yet to be seen. It may take another 2-3 years.”
Bill Messenger commented on potential scenarios for future challenges of Janus:
“There are probably over 40 cases right now going on this issue and we would hope at the end of the day the appellate courts interpret Janus correctly and hold the first amendment waiver as required. If they do, Supreme Court review isn’t required. However, if the circuit courts misinterpret Janus to not require a first amendment waiver, then ultimately the high court may have to make clear that it meant what it said in Janus.”
Eight months after the Janus decision, 48,598 California government employees stopped paying union dues based on information from a California Public Records request. These numbers are likely increasing as we speak.
The Janus v. AFSCME decision of 2018 overturned the 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.
Under the Abood case, the Epoch Times notes the following points:
“Every employee represented by a union, even if that employee was not a union member, must pay to the union, as a condition of employment, a service charge equal in amount to union dues. This was valid insofar as the service charges were used to finance expenditures by the union for collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment purposes.”
However, a more conservative Supreme court in 2018 struck down the Abood case with its Janus decision. It established the following points:
No public-sector employee, having refused membership in a trade union, may be compelled to pay union dues to said union because of the benefits he may receive from their collective bargaining. “Fair share” agreements, when applied to public sector workers, violate the First Amendment protections of free association and freedom of speech.
This was one of the biggest blows against organized labor, now that public sector workers can opt out of government unions.
Right to work is one of the most successful conservative policy movements in the nation.
Bill Messenger broke down the significance of the Janus decision:
“Right to work is a very simple concept. It’s that each individual employee has the right to choose whether or not to support a union and that’s really it. If an employee wants to pay union dues, that’s their choice, but if an employee doesn’t want to pay union dues toward a union, that is also their choice. The contrary to the right to work principle is the forced unionism idea, that all employees should be forced to support a union whether they want to or not. Right to work stands in contrast to that and say ‘no, each worker should choose.’ So ultimately it’s about worker freedom.”
Before the Janus decision, 27 states and Guam had right to work laws on the books that gave workers the ability to opt out of union dues.
Right to work protects the freedom of association, a fundamental bedrock of a free society.
Knowing the Left and its relentless nature, they will find ways to prevent the Janus decision from fully being implemented. Ultimately, their endgame would be to overturn Janus.
Freedom fighters would be wise to remain vigilant in the next few years.
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