Thu. Feb 25th, 2021

Public sector associations There is some stern warning about a US Supreme Court case that could end forced union dues for government employees, such as teachers, police officers, and firefighters. According to some union officials, Giving workers the option of refusing to pay fees to a union, allowing them to remain in their jobs, is part of a strategy to end union coffer. On Monday, the court heard from Mark Janus, a child support specialist in Illinois, who argues that forcing public employees to pay these fees violates their First Amendment rights.

It is understandable why Janus feels this, because it is no secret that government unions are inherently political. Collective bargaining in the public sector is indistinguishable from lobbying by any other narrow interest. Most items negotiated in the public sector, such as salaries, teacher tenure, and pension funding, include political options that determine how tax dollars are spent.

In 22 states such as California, New York and Illinois, unions have the right to speak and negotiate on behalf of workers, whether they like it or not. According to Janus, he does not want to pay for an association or activities that do not represent his values ​​and interests, but he has no choice in the matter if he wants to keep his job.

Unions may fear a favorable outcome for Janus because it will effectively eliminate the mandatory dues for public sector workers and thus create an environment where state and local workers, not the government, decide Whether the union is eligible for their financial support. Even Justice Sonia Sotomayor questioned whether the trial was for “an effort to do away with the unions”. Nothing could be further from the truth. More than likely the unions will see a slight decline in revenue, but not in the amount that will do away with the unions or lead to their extinction. Instead, a ruling in favor of Janus would give state and local government employees some control over where their hard-earned money is and which represents their interests.

Political cartoon on economy

Unions also worry that, when given the option, workers will not pay arrears the way they would continue to receive union representation. This is because labor unions act as “exclusive bargaining agents”, meaning that they must represent all workers in the bargaining unit whether or not they pay full-paid members. But the fact remains that most workers remain union members when given the option.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unions fare well in “right-to-work” states, where private-sector workers have the right to choose whether to pay union dues. Data compiled by Mackinac Center for Public Policy Union membership rates in those states are comparable to those in states that require forced union dues. For example, from 2000–2014, “the average percentage of union-representation, private-sector employees who were full union members, 93 percent in agency-fee states, 94 percent in mixed-status states, and right-in 84 percent. -Work states. “

In Michigan and Wisconsin, where recent right-to-work laws have been passed, union membership among public sector employees by collective bargaining agreements remains above 90 percent. This data should alleviate the union’s concerns that members will stop paying dues in the draw once they are elected. But consistently, unions fight tooth and nail to prevent the so-called “free-riders” from getting out.

Unions should not be able to do it both ways. Employees either free from fully forced union representation or fully accept that some workers do not want union representation, and may allow them to opt out of paying dues.

No worker should be forced by the government to financially support a union or risk losing a job. This is what is at the end of the case before the Supreme Court. It is ultimately about worker freedom, not saving unions.

The only thing unions really have to fear from the forthcoming decision of the court is the possibility that unions will be held responsible for their membership. A decision in favor of Janus would give workers the opportunity to pay the dues if they did not feel the union was earning its earnings. Perhaps that is what is really making union owners uncomfortable.

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