Freedom Foundation

Freedom Foundation publication explains Janus to government HR directors

(SALEM, Ore.) — Government agencies in Oregon won’t be able to say they weren’t given clear guidance if they’re ever accused of ignoring the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent landmark ruling in Janus v. AFSCME.

On Sept. 5, the Freedom Foundation created and distributed a comprehensive analysis of the Janus decision to the human resources department of every state, county, school district and city jurisdiction in Oregon. The guide is meant to answer questions and provide guidance for public-sector employers in the wake of the controversial labor case.

The guide, which can be accessed here, seeks to advise all human resource departments regarding employers and employee’s rights in wake of the Janus decision. This is a response to the attorney general’s “advisory” that she published following the Janus decision.

Issued on June 27, the Janus ruling affirmed that government employees cannot be forced to join a labor union as a condition of employment, nor can they be required to pay so-called “agency fees” in lieu of dues.

Further, the ruling also established that unions can no longer deduct dues or fees from employees who haven’t knowingly authorized the practice.

“Simply put, Janus requires unions to operate like any other service provider,” said Aaron Withe, director of the Freedom Foundation’s Oregon office. “They can’t just take a worker’s money no questions asked. They have to start earning it.”

Janus makes clear that employees who consent to a dues deduction are, by definition, waiving their First Amendment rights in the question. Consequently, unions can only collect dues from those who signed their membership card after the ruling was issued on June 27.

“The law is unequivocal on that point,” Withe said. “Employees have to know they’re waiving their rights, and how could they have known that before the court first articulated that right in June.”

The Freedom Foundation’s guide to Janus, he said, warns state agencies that any deduction of dues or fees from employees who didn’t consent to it after June 27 is illegal and subject to refund.

The Freedom Foundation has already filed a lawsuit in Washington to test that principle. And are willing and ready to take similar action in Oregon.

The Freedom Foundation, with offices in Salem, Olympia, Wash., and Fullerton, Calif., is a member-supported, nonpartisan think and action tank advocating free markets and limited, accountable government.