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Arlington, VA – Today the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of Mark Janus in the Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) case, stating that no public employee can be compelled to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. The decision overturned Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977), in which the Court ruled that unions can require workers to pay fees to cover collective bargaining costs.
Americans for Prosperity Senior Policy Fellow Akash Chougule issued the following statement:
“Today is a historic day not only for public employees who will no longer be forced to fund political activity against their will, but also for the First Amendment rights of every American. No one should be forced to fund political speech with which they disagree simply to keep their job.
“As we have argued since day one – it is unconstitutional to force workers to pay mandatory union fees as a condition of their employment. Americans for Prosperity has fought to advance this principle for years across the country through right-to-work legislation, and we will continue working to protect the free speech rights of every American.”
At issue in this case was the power of labor unions to collect “fair share” or “agency fees” from public employees who have opted out of the union in their workplace. Mark Janus – a public employee in Illinois – challenged the constitutionality of the law compelling him to pay these union fees, arguing that the law violates his right to free speech because collective bargaining with the government affects public policy issues and is, therefore, inherently political in nature. Thus, these mandatory dues to fund collective bargaining constitute forced political speech.
28 American states have passed right-to-work laws. Since 2012, AFP has been actively involved in efforts to pass these laws in six states including Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri.
Prior to the ruling, in the 22 states that don’t have a right-to-work laws – including Mark Janus’ home state of Illinois – public employees who opted out of union membership were still forced to fund union collective bargaining through so-called agency fees. Not only are agency fees used for collective bargaining that affects public policy, they are also spent on activity that is overtly political in nature, such as donations to politically motivated nonprofit organizations or funding events with a political message.
In 2015, AFSCME itself estimated that about half of its membership would consider no longer paying dues if they were given the freedom to make that choice. Earlier this year, Politico reported on the National Science Foundation’s General Social Survey findings that 23 percent of unionized government employees don’t believe workers need strong unions.
Washington Examiner: A Janus Victory Could Open Up More Legal and Legislative questions
Americans for Prosperity: How Janus v. AFSCME Could Expand Worker Freedom
For further information or to set up an interview, please send an email to GBraud@afphq.org.
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) exists to recruit, educate, and mobilize citizens in support of the policies and goals of a free society at the local, state, and federal level, helping every American live their dream – especially the least fortunate. AFP has more than 3.2 million activists across the nation, a local infrastructure that includes 36 state chapters, and has received financial support from more than 100,000 Americans in all 50 states. For more information, visit www.americansforprosperity.org
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