In June of 2018, the United States Supreme Court ruled that public employees have a constitutional right to quit their union and stop paying dues in the Janus v. AFSCME decision. As National Employee Freedom Week is being celebrated this week, The Hill published an opinion piece on the ramifications of this legislative override and what is happening around the county.
What is happening around the United States?
- New Jersey: The legislature passed the Workplace Democracy Enhancement Act before the Janus ruling was even adopted. This legislation allows public employees to resign from their union during a 10-day window immediately after hire.
- Massachusetts: Attorney General Maura Healey wrote an advisory listing benefits of unions and several other attorney generals have followed suit. The MA House also approved a bill that establishes barriers to opting out of unions.
- Washington: Governor Jay Inslee proactively signed a bill prior to the Janus ruling prohibiting employees from suing the union for dues paid before the Janus ruling.
- Oregon: Legislation is pending that would bypass the state Supreme Court by requiring public employers to pay unions a percentage of their payroll.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that percentage of workers who are members of a union fell to 10.5% in 2018, a decrease from the previous year. Public records obtained by the Mackinac Center show that Maryland has experienced a 32.3 percent (11,000 workers) drop in number of state workers paying dues or fees to a union.
In the future, if workers are successful in various lawsuits filed against state- and union-imposed restrictions, there will be fewer obstacles for employees trying to leave their unions. Also, “affirmative consent” requirements could be imposed by governors or legislatures, making unions prove that members knowingly decided to join. Although last year’s ruling affirmed that public employees do not need to pay a union in order to keep their jobs, public employees have faced “hostility and state-sponsored obstacles” when opting out.