October 2, 2017

Janus op-ed in the Daily Journal

By Deborah J. La Fetra Senior Attorney

Today’s Daily Journal celebrates the first day of the new Supreme Court Term by publishing an array of op-eds on pending cases, including my own take on Janus v. AFCSME. That case will decide whether to overrule Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, a 40-year old decision that grants to public employee unions an extraordinary benefit available to no other association in the country: the right to steal money from non-members to lobby for their political goals. Janus has the potential to restore First Amendment rights to all workers who choose not to support public employee unions. A taste:

Abood went wrong when it failed to recognize the inherently political character of all public employee union actions — even those connected to collective bargaining. The difference between public and private sector unions is that public sector bargaining is a political process, directly involving the whole public, concerning the allocation of scarce taxpayer government resources. That is why all of the Supreme Court’s attempts to distinguish public employee union collective bargaining from other types of political and ideological activities have proven illusory. No such logical distinction ever did, or can, exist.

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Janus v. American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, Council 31

The Illinois Public Labor Relations Act authorized public employee unions to collect “fair share” or “agency shop” fees from nonmember employees. Allowed under the 1977 Supreme Court decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the Illinois law allowed the AFSCME union to steal $535 per year from Mark Janus and every nonunion employee. Janus sued, arguing the law violates the First Amendment. PLF and an array of allies filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Janus at the U.S. Supreme Court. And in a 5—4 decision announced June 27, 2018, the High Court overruled Abood, agreeing with Janus that the 1977 ruling is incompatible with the First Amendment.

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