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Americans for Prosperity wishes public sector workers across America a Happy #Janusversary

Jun 26, 2020 by AFP

In recognition of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME June 27, 2018 ruling, Americans for Prosperity wishes all public sector workers, including the now retired Mark Janus, a Happy #Janusversary.

The Court’s decision reaffirmed the free speech rights of all government workers to freely decide whether  to financially support government unions as part of their federal, state, and local government jobs around the country.

Two years later, there is still work to be done to protect the constitutional rights of workers on the state and local level.

Why does Janus matter?

Janus overruled the 1977 Abood v. Detroit Board of Education case, which allowed government workers to only opt-out of a narrow portion of union dues directly linked to political spending while still requiring employees to pay significant union agency fees as a condition of employment.

The Janus majority opinion found that agency-shop agreements also violate the First Amendment rights of nonmembers by forcing them to “subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.”

The Court clarified that “extraction of agency fees from nonconsenting public sector employees violates the First Amendment,” and that “neither an agency fee nor any other payment to the union may be deducted from a nonmember’s wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay. By agreeing to pay, nonmembers are waiving their First Amendment rights, and such a waiver cannot be presumed.”

While 27 states are right-to-work states and allow government and private-sector workers the choice to join or pay a union, the Janus ruling expanded these rights to millions of government workers that previously could be fired for not paying mandatory fees to a union.

Now, federal, state, and local governments have a constitutional duty to protect the choice of their workers. This includes more than recognizing the freedom to opt out of union fees. Every worker deserves to be educated about their rights, the ability to exercise those rights without restriction, and the requirement of consent to ensure they are a willing and voluntary contributor to the union.

How is Janus being applied on the state level?

Even though public employees are now guaranteed the constitutional right of freedom of association to voluntarily support, or refrain from supporting, a union at their workplace, most states, including longstanding right-to-work states, are still out of compliance and must update their laws to ensure Janus rights for workers.

Unfortunately, some states are trying to undermine the constitutionally protected rights of workers. In February 2020, New Mexico enacted a law  banning employees from leaving their union outside of a maximum 10 day window each year, while also preventing workers from ending government union dues deductions from their paychecks. Only union leadership is permitted to handle that activity.

Thankfully, other states are taking steps to protect workers’ rights.

  • In just the past year, the attorneys general in Alaska, Texas, and Indiana have issued legal opinions for their states to implement Janus rights, including annual consent before any dues are deducted from their hard-earned paychecks.
  • Michigan’s Civil Service Commission is considering a rule to enforce Janus rights.
  • Florida’s House passed a Janus Rights bill to provide momentum for future enactment.
  • Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy implemented an administrative order to bring his state in compliance, only to have a stacked state court block his order pending further review.
  • While upholding West Virginia’s right to work law on April 21, the West Virginia Supreme Court argued that the Janus ruling should apply to private sector workers as well, stating: “Workers in the private sector have no less of a right than public sector employees to be free from forced association with a labor organization.”

Further bolstering these protections, the federal government has moved to end opt out windows for federal employees.

As Americans for Prosperity and workers around the nation celebrate the protected First Amendment rights of government workers on #Janusversary, we urge leaders to ensure their governments are fully honoring the rights of their employees as well. Americans for Prosperity stands with all workers.

Celebrate the free speech rights of public sector workers by signing the petition to support workers’ rights.