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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

The Janus Decision, A Year Later

Anyone who thought the Janus decision would end labor unions was being hyperbolic.  All the Janus decision did–all it was supposed to do–was provide freedom of conscience for those of us who didn’t want to support the political leanings of labor unions.  If you want to keep your union, you can keep your union–but you shouldn’t be able to force me to pay for it as well.  It wasn’t a death knell for unions, but neither did it enervate invigorate a pro-union cascade as some union leaders are now trying to contend:

In June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public-sector unions could no longer charge representation fees to nonmembers. The decision in Janus v. AFSCME was expected to have an immediate explosive effect. Unions had argued before the court that the loss of fees would be devastating, and in her dissent, Justice Elena Kagan warned that the majority’s ruling “wreaks havoc on entrenched legislative and contractual arrangements.” Much of the press followed suit, with headlines such as “Why ‘Janus’ Figures to Juice Income Inequality in America” and “SCOTUS Ruling For Janus v. AFSCME Crumbles Labor Unions.” It’s now a year later, and the apocalyptic predictions have not come to pass, leading the press to swing uncontrollably in the opposite direction, with headlines such as “1 year after Janus, unions are flush” and “So much for the labor movement’s funeral.” The immediate effect of the Janus decision was to free fee-payers. Those who were previously compelled to pay upward of 70 percent of full dues now paid nothing. Nor did they have to do anything at all to achieve this new status. To comply with the ruling, school districts stopped extracting the fees from teachers’ paychecks… The membership figures from the California Teachers Association support what a level-headed pre-Janus forecast would have told us. According to internal documents, on Dec. 31, 2017, the union had 325,812 members and 28,459 fee-payers working in California’s public schools and universities. On Dec. 31, 2018, there were 328,913 members — an increase of 3,101, or just under 1 percent. But the fee-payers were gone.

And so was their money.

Why is this so important to me?  Because I was there on the steps of the Supreme Court, one of many giving speeches in support of Mark Janus as his case was being heard last year.

To read about that day in DC, go here.

To read about how I found about the decision when it was handed down 4 months later, go here.

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