The Supreme Court has just handed down it’s ruling in the case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, aka Janus. This is the background:

Mark Janus is a child support specialist employed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. He has declined membership in the union, as is his constitutional right, but under the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act he’s still is required to pay the union an “agency fee” as a condition of keeping his job. That fee is supposed to cover his share of the union’s expenses outside of politics – 84 percent of the full member dues last year (by the union’s calculation).

His argument is that all public union spending is so entwined with politics that he should not be compelled to subsidize any of it.

Writing this commentary piece in the Chicago Tribune, Janus said, “To keep my job at the state, I have to pay monthly fees to the AFSCME, a public union that claims to ‘represent’ me. The union is not my voice. The union’s fight is not my fight.”

Historically, under what is called the Abood decision, unions have been allowed to require “agency fees” from non-members. The court seem poised to overturn this decsion, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, when Justice Antonin Scalia’s untimely death resulted in 4-4 tie. While the Obama Justice Department had sided with the labor unions in Friedrichs, the Trump Justice Department gave its full support to Mark Janus.

The decision was 5-4, along familiar lines, with Justice Samuel Alito writing for the majority.

The State’s extraction of agency fees from non-consenting public sector employees violates the First Amendment. Abood erred in concluding otherwise, and stare decisis cannot support it. Abood is therefore overruled.

(a) Abood’s holding is inconsistent with standard First Amendment principles.

(1) Forcing free and independent individuals to endorse ideas they find objectionable raises serious First Amendment concerns.

3. For these reasons, States and public-sector unions may no longer extract agency fees from nonconsenting employees. The First Amendment is violated when money is taken from nonconsenting employees for a public-sector union; employees must choose to support the union before anything is taken from them. Accordingly, neither an agency fee nor any other form of payment to a public-sector union may be deducted from an employee, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay

This is not a narrow decision. It means that virtually all attempts to mandate union membership or “agency fees” for non-members are now illegal. It means that, based on what we saw in Wisconsin, once coercion is removed, public sector unions wither. This is bad news for the Democrat machine and great news for freedom.

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