Public-sector unions, long accustomed to getting their way, received a rude awakening this morning. By 5-4, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 that nonmember state and local government employees are not required to pay partial dues (“agency fees”) to a union representing them. The decision overturns over 40 years of union monopoly power now practiced in nearly two dozen states. In so doing, it will hamper the ability of public-employee unions to route dues collections toward political activism. Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, stated, “States and public-sector unions may no longer extract agency fees from nonconsenting employees.” Union officials fear that millions of workers now will be able to choose whether or not to pay dues. Frankly, such a prospect should be welcomed, not feared.
In the annals of American labor relations, history sometimes reverses course. That certainly was true yesterday in Missouri. By a 2-to-1 margin, voters overturned a law passed and signed early last year to protect private-sector workers under union contract from being forced to pay dues in order to keep their jobs. The referendum, known as Proposition A, had been placed on the ballot via petition. Union leaders now are serving notice that the Missouri vote is the beginning of nationwide campaign to repeal similar “Right to Work” laws in 27 other states. “The defeat of this poisonous anti-worker legislation is a victory for all workers across the country,” crowed AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. His declaration seems a case of myopia.
To organized labor, they’re called dues payments. To some members of Congress, they’re called acts of theft. The critics may be right. During the past several weeks, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs has been conducting oversight on why Medicaid, a program now consuming well over a half-trillion dollars a year in federal and state taxes, is costing so much. One reason is that unions now skim an estimated $200 million a year from the program, having been granted the authority by more than a dozen states to reclassify home health care workers, including family caregivers, as government employees. This practice undermines statutory intent and a Supreme Court ruling four years ago. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., for one, is demanding some answers from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Medicaid is by far the nation’s largest means-tested anti-poverty program. Passed by Congress and signed by President … Read More ➡
On one level, 2017 was a very good year. President Trump, a man who works with unions rather than for them, took office in January. He named Marvin Kaplan and William Emanuel (each approved by the Senate) to fill National Labor Relations Board vacancies, and Peter Robb, another ally of individual worker liberty, as NLRB general counsel. This contrasted with former President Obama’s picks, which created a natural 3-2 pro-union board majority. The reconstituted board already has made a difference. Last month, in PCC Structurals Inc., the board raised the bar for “micro-union” organizing, overturning the misguided Specialty Healthcare decision of 2011. At the state level, Kentucky and Missouri early in the year passed Right to Work legislation (each signed by the respective governors) to protect private-sector nonunion workers from having to pay union dues to keep their jobs.
Crucial as such countervailing forces to union power were, unions … Read More ➡
The resolve of unions to coerce support from unwilling employees shouldn’t be underestimated. Neither should the resistance of such employees. On September 28, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear an appeal in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, a case challenging the authority of public-sector unions to impose representation-related dues (“agency fees”) upon non-member workers. If successful, the plaintiffs, a State of Illinois child support specialist and two other public employees, will have overturned the basis for 40 years of union-driven bargaining that has pushed many state and local governments to the brink of insolvency. The Court was deadlocked in a similar case last year.
Union Corruption Update has visited this issue several times, most recently in late-March 2016. The U.S. Supreme Court at the time had announced that it was unable to break a 4-4 tie in Friedrichs v. … Read More ➡