The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) that limits the freedom of millions of government workers to come together in unions in order to bargain for decent wages and benefits and have a voice on the job. The 5-4 ruling is the latest salvo in a decades-long attack on unions led by conservative lawmakers and corporate lobbyists—an effort that harms all working Americans since strong unions are central in building the middle class.
The Janus decision overturns a precedent established more than 40 years ago in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, a ruling that protected the power of states to enact strong public sector bargaining laws that promoted labor peace and prevented “freeriding” by nonmembers of public-sector unions—which happens when nonmembers benefit from union gains without paying for them. Under the previous precedent, no one could be forced to be a member of a union or to pay any dues to a political cause that they did not support. However, many states permitted government workers covered by a union contract to refuse union membership and pay “fair share” fees that covered only the cost of workplace bargaining and contract administration, rather than the full cost of dues.
The above excerpt was originally published in Center for American Progress Action Fund.
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