Janus v. AFSCME Anniversary: Restoring Government Workers’ First Amendment Rights

On June 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down an historic decision that guarantees and protects the First Amendment rights of government workers across the country.

The Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) court case challenged precedent that allowed public sector unions to charge non-members fees as a condition of their employment with the government. Janus overturned that precedent, making clear that government workers never have to pay money to a union against their will.

Two years later, APF continues to work toward full implementation of the Janus decision for our public servants here in Alaska. While the practice of forcing government workers to pay so-called “agency fees” ended in 2018, the Janus decision has much farther reaching implications. Last fall, the Alaska Attorney General published a comprehensive legal opinion, analyzing the Janus case and what it means for government workers. To bring Alaska into full compliance with the ruling, the state must allow its employees to opt-in or out of union membership at any time, and they must do so in an environment free of coercion and with a full understanding of their First Amendment rights.

The Alaska State Employees Association (ASEA) has sued to halt the creation and implementation of an opt-in system that would meet these requirements and protect the rights of Alaska’s public servants. Before the lawsuit, many state employees opted out of union membership following the publication of the legal opinion, but were forced back into paying dues after the court issued a temporary restraining order. In response, APF has filed a lawsuit on behalf of two state employees who opted out of union membership yet are forced to continue paying money to the union against their expressly stated will. This case, Creed v. ASEA, is ongoing.

Most recently, two states—Texas and Indiana—have followed in Alaska’s footsteps by revisiting their interpretations of the Janus decision to restore and ensure full protection of government workers’ rights.

For more information about Janus v. AFSCME, resources for government workers, the Attorney General’s legal opinion, Creed v. ASEA, and recent developments, check out the following: