Janus v. AFSCME

The SCOTUS holding in Janus v. AFSCME was as expected…5-4 in favor of the finding that “extraction of agency fees from nonconsenting public-sector employees violates the First Amendment.”

Several aspects of the decision are disturbing over and above the foregoing, including the reasoning behind the departure from the tenured holding in Abood v. Detroit Board of Ed, decided in 1977.

While in New York, Governor Cuomo signed legislation in April in anticipation of the holding in Janus that would abate the effect of same on public sector unions, the text of the holding almost appears to have anticipated New York’s position. The text of Janus advises: “neither an agency fee nor any other form of payment to a public-sector union may be deducted from an employee, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay.” What constitutes “any other form of payment”? Does this encompass anything other than the benefits of collective bargaining, such as payment for representation of the union member in legal proceedings? Now, a constitutional challenge may be afoot — with another guaranteed vacancy on the SCOTUS imminent and the potential for still another, evisceration of public sector unions is within the foreseeable future. While elimination of these unions may be impossible through legislation, the effects of the Janus decision and any progeny therefrom may essentially defund these entities, thereby rendering them ineffectual.

To avoid this abysmal conclusion, steps must be taken to ensure the efficacy of public sector unions that are of great service to public employees, including law enforcement, firefighters, teachers, etc.

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