The News Tribune published an editorial on Tuesday of this week noting that the city of Tacoma, in its just-completed collective bargaining talks with city unions, had been more respectful of last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME than the union negotiators were comfortable with.
In addition to recognizing that forcing public employees to pay union dues or fees is a violation of their First Amendment rights, Janus also made clear — to everyone but the unions — that workers who agree to align themselves with a union anyway are waiving their rights not to, and that’s not something to be taken lightly.
Accordingly, the new Tacoma contracts included an informed consent clause requiring the unions to advise every new member of the full consequences of their actions — something the Freedom Foundation has been fighting in court about ever since the Janus ruling was issued in June 2018.
But while praising the city for its insight — and grudgingly giving the Freedom Foundation credit (or blame) for making the change possible — the editorial, headlined “The Wait is Over. No More Compulsory Public Employee Union Fees in Tacoma and Beyond,” completely glossed over the reality that the unions are still fighting even this common-sense measure.
Even more fundamentally, however, the author(s) agree, “What’s needed in this post-Janus world are opportunities for public employees to get information about union participation, both pro and con, so they can make educated decisions about whether to be full-fledged members.”
And guess what? That’s all the Freedom Foundation has ever sought.
Without saying it in so many words, the News Tribune editorial validates everything the Freedom Foundation does and stand for. We’ve been right all along and the unions have been wrong.
And they still are.
All things considered, the editorial was a huge victory for us, but it got even better two days later when the paper published a follow-up op-ed from Freedom Foundation managing editor Jeff Rhodes, who pointed out the obvious.
Headlined “Until the Unions Fully Comply with Janus, the Fight will Go On,” Jeff’s piece notes that, despite the original editorial’s “cheery tone,” unions are conceding nothing when it comes to the freedom of government employees to make their own decisions about representation.
More pointedly, Jeff takes righteous offense to the editorial conflating the standard union practice of requiring every new hire to participate in a one-sided union arm-twisting session with the Freedom Foundation’s straightforward outreach efforts.
“Unlike the unions, which still maintain a strong — some would say stifling — presence in every government office and have countless not-so-subtle techniques for intimidating and ostracizing dissenters, the Freedom Foundation has neither the authority nor desire to impose its will on anyone. Our only weapon is the truth about a worker’s rights, and despite unions’ best efforts to suppress it with the workers’ own dues dollars, we more than hold our own.”
He concludes by observing:
“Regardless, the takeaway is obvious: All the Freedom Foundation is working for is simple fairness. What the unions want isn’t, and they haven’t given up hoping they’ll never have to.”