By Jakob Puckett
When’s the last time you went to a store, and the store forced you to buy something you didn’t want? That’s ridiculous, you might think. Sure, someone else might want it, but they can’t spend my money for me on something I’m not looking to buy.
For the past 40 years, this is how public sector unions had been operating, having the legal right to collect what are called “agency fees” (or union dues) for any employees they wish to bargain for, even if that person didn’t want to join the union.
But thanks to the recent Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, workers now have the right to choose whether they want to pay union dues. Mark Janus successfully argued that since public sector unions operate by interacting with public officials, everything they do is inherently political, and forcing employees to be a part of it would violate their First Amendment rights of free speech and association.
Now, instead of involuntarily funding a union they don’t agree with, workers are finally empowered to make their own decisions with their own money for their own purposes.
Like the grocery store example, nothing in this ruling prevents unions from existing and continuing to offer their services. We’re just free to choose whether or not to purchase them.
Jakob Puckett is a Research Associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.
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For Immediate Release
Cascade Policy Institute stands with Mark Janus and with all Oregon public employees who want their rights to free speech and free association protected.
Portland, Ore. – The U.S. Supreme Court today restored First Amendment rights of free speech and free association for public employees in Oregon and nationwide. This is truly a victory for everyone who values the freedom of workers to associate with and financially support only those organizations with which they agree.
Ruling in favor of Illinois public employee Mark Janus in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Court said he, and all other public employees nationwide, do indeed have Constitutional Rights that have been violated by the collection of so-called “fair share” or “agency” fees from their paychecks to pay for services the employees don’t want, or from unions whose political goals they oppose.
The Court has long allowed both public and private sector employees to opt out of union membership and the political portion of union dues, but it has allowed unions to collect fees for bargaining and representation purposes.
Now, Mark Janus has successfully argued that in the public sector, everything his union does is inherently political. Therefore, he should not be compelled to support that organization with his money.
The union compulsion the Court ended for public employees today brings to mind the well-known statement by Thomas Jefferson:
“To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
Cascade Policy Institute stands with Mark Janus and with Oregon public employees, including public school teachers, who feel as he does that they want their rights to free speech and free association protected.
Nothing in the Janus decision prohibits unions from organizing and collecting voluntary dues from public employees. The ruling simply restores the First Amendment rights of public employees to say “no” to unions with which they don’t want to associate. Today is truly a day to celebrate the restoration of rights long denied a large group of citizens in Oregon and nationwide.
Founded in 1991, Cascade Policy Institute is Oregon’s premier policy research center. Cascade’s mission is to explore and promote public policy alternatives that foster individual liberty, personal responsibility, and economic opportunity.
For more information, visit cascadepolicy.org.