Last September, the Supreme Court accepted a case from Illinois state worker Mark Janus who does not want to be in a union and does not want to pay union dues but is forced to.
The case would have been settled in 2016 but unfortunately Justice Scalia died while vacationing at a Texas ranch. The eight remaining justices voted 4-4 which allowed the current law to stand.
Had Hillary won, she no doubt would have put a union supporter on the court. Instead, Trump placed Neil Gorsuch on the court.
The court hears the case of Janus v. AFSCME today.
On Monday the US Supreme Court will hear Janus v. AFSCME. At issue are the constitutionality of laws in 22 states — including New York — that force public employees who do not want to belong to unions to pay unions “agency fees” for bargaining collectively on their behalf. The plaintiff — Illinois state worker Mark Janus — argues that agency fees violate his First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and association by compelling him to underwrite union political activity with which he disagrees.
But public unions don’t just seek to influence already elected officials, they also seek to determine who gets elected. From 2013 to 2016, New York’s government unions spent more than $52 million on state and local elections, according to the Empire Center. Amazingly that sum approached the $63.9 million collectively spent by Gov. Cuomo, the New York State Democratic Committee and state Senate Republicans on their 2014 election campaigns.
The unions argue that a remedy for such impingement on First Amendment rights already exists. Workers who dislike union politics just need to withdraw from the union and opt-out of the political spending (usually by writing an annual letter). The union will then reimburse them for the percentage of their agency fees it says it spent on politics.
But this arrangement stacks the deck in favor of the union. If workers are unsure of their rights or forget to write the opt-out letter, they can subsidize political activity. In addition, the union controls the budget and decides how much it spends on political versus collective bargaining. And in the government context it is it hard to separate political activity from collective bargaining because both are directed at the government.
Even if a line could be drawn between the two, Janus contends that he is still underwriting political activity because collective bargaining in government is inherently political. The subjects up for negotiation — employee pay, benefits, and work rules — are ultimately political decisions about how to allocate tax dollars and how public services should be carried out.
I expect the court to decide against the AFSCME. It will be a welcome ruling, but only a start. The entire notion of "collective bargaining" by public unions is a scam. It needs to go entirely.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock