Foundation’s 2018 Supreme Court victory protects public workers’ right not to fund union they oppose, but union officials can still ‘speak for’ dissident workers
Washington, DC (August 19, 2022) – National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix issued the following statement in recognition of National Employee Freedom Week:
“On this week, we remind all independent-minded American educators and public sector workers that the First Amendment forbids union officials from getting employees fired merely for refusal to join or fund a union that pushes divisive politics, negotiates lousy contracts, or simply acts against worker interests.
“However, while the Foundation’s 2018 Supreme Court victory in Janus v. AFSCME protects public workers’ ability to stop subsidizing union activities they oppose, much more needs to be done to fully defend these employees’ free association rights. Public sector union officials in the vast majority of states still wield government-granted monopoly ‘representation’ power over workers who don’t want and never asked for a union, and the Foundation is currently fighting alongside workers who oppose their voices being stifled by this coercive, unconstitutional privilege.”
National Employee Freedom Week is dedicated to educating American public teachers and other public sector employees that they have a right to refuse to fund or join unions in their workplace that do not serve their interests. Public employees are also advised this week that, although union bosses don’t want them to know it, many non-union voluntary options exist to provide liability insurance and other benefits that union officials tout as a reason to join a union, even though union membership means paying for union political activities that many workers oppose. In fact, many non-union options for liability insurance, especially for teachers, provide better coverage than union options at far less cost to teachers.
In the 2018 Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision argued and won by Foundation staff attorneys, the Justices ruled that public employees have a First Amendment right to cut off dues to an unwanted union, and also recognized that union dues could only be deducted from a public sector employee’s paycheck with their explicit consent. Even today, many union officials refuse to abide by this limit on their coercive power, resulting in numerous ongoing lawsuits by Foundation staff attorneys seeking to enforce workers’ Janus rights.
In the Janus decision, Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote for the majority, additionally explained that union monopoly “representation” power in the public sector is “a significant impingement on associational freedoms that would not be tolerated in other contexts,” perhaps indicating an interest from the High Court in striking down this coercive privilege in the future.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in around 250 cases nationwide per year.