SCOTUS Rules in Janus v. AFSCME That Public Sector Unions Cannot Make Non-Members Pay Dues

Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion | 6/27/2018 | Mary Chastain
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The Supreme Court handed another victory to free speech with Janus vs. AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees). In a 5-4 decision, the justices determined government unions cannot require non-members to pay union dues.

A quick history of the case: Mark Janus worked as a child support specialist for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. He was not a member of the union but was required to pay “fair share” dues. The state of Illinois took $50 from his paycheck to cover the cost of the union dues.

Janus - Dues - Speech - Rights - Positions

Janus argued that these dues “violate his free speech rights because he disagrees with many positions taken by AFSCME and that everything the public employee union does is inherently political.”

Justice Samuel Alito wrote “that this arrangement violates the free speech rights of nonmembers by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.”

Precedent - SCOTUS - Decision - Abood - V

That precedent came from a 1977 SCOTUS decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that ruled the unions could charge fair share dues, but they may not use that money for political reasons. This court struck that down:

Abood was poorly reasoned, and those arguing for retaining it have recast its reasoning, which further undermines its stare decisis effect, e.g., Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm’n, 558 U. S. 310, 363. Abood relied on Railway Employes v. Hanson, 351 U. S. 225, and Machinists v. Street, 367 U. S. 740, both of which involved private-sector collective-bargaining agreements where the government merely authorized agency fees. Abood did not appreciate the very different First Amendment question that arises when a State requires its employees to pay agency fees. Abood also judged the constitutionality of public-sector agency fees using Hanson’s deferential standard, which is inappropriate in deciding free speech issues. Nor did Abood take into account the...
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