One year ago, on June 27, 2018, the United States Supreme Court ruled on the case Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). At question was whether government employees could be forced to pay union dues as a condition of their employment. Siding with Mark Janus, the majority opinion stated, “this arrangement violates the free speech rights of nonmembers by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.”
Looking back, here are some initial reactions to the ruling:
Now that I and others have a choice, government unions will be held accountable. With choice, unions will need to better serve their members by working harder to earn the money they collect. We will all benefit.Alaskan Kathy McCollum, “Teacher: In Janus ruling, Supreme Court restores free speech rights to public workers like me” in Fox News on June 27, 2018
Despite union leadership’s exaggerated response to the ruling, the court’s decision does not eliminate public sector unions or anyone’s freedom to join one. It does not harm working families. It also has no impact on private trade unions and how they operate. My union’s claim that it is a victory for ‘corporate interest groups’ couldn’t be more wrong. It is a victory for those who support First Amendment rights.Alaskan Todd Smoldon, “A free ride or a carkjacking?” in Anchorage Daily News on July 4, 2018
The court’s ruling that public employees retain their First Amendment freedom of association doesn’t destroy public-sector unions. It simply requires government unions to do the right thing — stop forcing people to join and start persuading them instead. … For 41 years, it’s been individual workers who have been unfairly silenced by having their voice in whether to join a public-sector union stripped from them. That stops now.Erin Shannon and David Boze, “Pro: Janus ruling empowers public employees” in The Seattle Times on June 28, 2018
Thanks to this ruling, workers such as me will no longer have to check our First Amendment rights at the door when we enter public service. We will no longer be required to fund unions that are negotiating policies that are bankrupting our states.Mark Janus, “Why I took my case over forced union dues to the Supreme Court” in The Washington Post on July 1, 2018
These reactions to the Janus ruling are as relevant today as they were last year. Now the challenge is to ensure that all government employees know that they have the right to opt-out of paying union dues, for whatever reason.
For more information on Janus v. AFSCME, check out our Frequently Asked Questions.