On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Janus v. AFSCME will be exactly one year old, and government unions on the West Coast aren’t expected to mark the occasion with a festive celebration.
If you’re contemplating writing a story about the anniversary of Janus, please consider incorporating the information provided below by the Freedom Foundation.
- Marking the occasion: The Freedom Foundation will celebrate the Janus anniversary by sending canvassers to government buildings in California, Oregon and Washington. Canvassers will pass out coffee and breakfast to government employees as they head into work.
- Background: Prior to Janus, public employees in many states had been required for decades to pay dues — or agency fees — to a labor union, even if they were not a member.
But the ruling affirmed the practice violated workers’ First Amendment rights.
The unions saw the handwriting on the wall four years earlier, when the court ruled in Harris v. Quinn that “partial-public employees” — primarily government-compensated homecare and childcare providers — could not be forced to support a union and had the right to opt out.
In the intervening years, government unions responded by adopting policies to prepare for an adverse ruling. These included:
- pressuring workers to sign membership renewal cards that included fine print that made escape all but impossible;
- convincing labor-dependent legislators to pass laws that gave unions a captive-audience meeting with newly hired public employees during which operatives could deliver high- pressure, often-deceptive sales pitch without fear of being contradicted;
- passing laws that exempted government employees from existing public disclosure laws so their contact information could not be obtained by organizations like the Freedom Foundation that seek to inform them of their Constitutional rights; and,
- simply pretending the ruling hadn’t happened and didn’t need to be complied with.
- By the numbers: The Freedom Foundation has already helped more than 50,000 government employees predominantly in Washington, Oregon and California opt out of unwanted union dues deductions.
In Washington, for example, the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) has seen its dues-paying membership reduced by 25 percent in the past year — with many more eager to follow their lead once the union-erected wall of obstruction and obfuscation has been toppled once and for all.
In Oregon, more than 15,000 public employees have found freedom from their union; Oregon’s Service Employees International Union Local 503 (SEIU 503) has seen a whopping 26 percent reduction in its membership, while the Oregon School Employees Association (OSEA) has experienced a defection rate of more than 31 percent of its members.
In California, Freedom Foundation has assisted 15,000 public employees in leaving their union and a number of Californians have partnered with Freedom Foundation to sue their union because they have been prevented from resigning their union membership and stopping union dues deductions from their paychecks.
- Janus Quotes: (from Tom McCabe, Freedom Foundation CEO):
- “Janus had one purpose only — to free public employees from forced union dues. Anything else is secondary.”
- “The Supreme Court reached the right conclusion in Janus, even if it had enabled only one worker to escape union oppression. The unions have done everything in their power to prevent workers from even knowing about their rights, let alone exercising them. Even so, the Freedom Foundation has helped more than 50,000 opt out. And we’re just getting started.”
- “Fighting union abuse is the only thing we do. We send paid canvassers to the homes and workplaces of public employees to inform them of their rights. We do mass mailings and e- mailings. And when necessary, we provide workers battling their union with free legal representation. It’s hard work, but the results make it worthwhile.”
- “If government union bosses are so confident their members are loyal and happy, why are they spending millions of other people’s dues dollars on lawsuits, lobbying and bullying tactics intended to keep the workers in the fold?”
- “If government unions can’t compete in a free market for the loyalty of public employees, why should consumers be forced to buy their inferior product?”
“Nothing in Janus makes joining a union impossible or even more difficult. It simply acknowledges that public employees have the same First Amendment rights as every other American citizen, and those rights can’t be sacrificed to the greed of a well-connected special interest.”