by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
George Leef writes at Forbes about the U.S. Supreme Court’s latest foray into union-related jurisprudence.
On February 26, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME. The issue in the case is whether public unions can compel workers who have declined to become members to pay them an “agency fee” that supposedly covers the union’s activities other than political action.
Mark Janus is a public employee in Illinois and under state law, he must pay “his” union, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees a fee that is 78 percent of the full membership dues. That is the amount that the union says is the “fair share” of workers who decline to become members — $45 per month for Mr. Janus.
Even if you believe that public unions like AFSCME spend only 22 percent of their revenues on politics, Janus contends that because the activities of public unions are inherently political, being forced to support any portion of their spending impinges on his First Amendment rights. Just as the government cannot interfere with Americans when they wish to communicate, neither can it compel them to provide money to enable others to communicate.
Moreover, and by their own admission, union officials are not just interested in negotiating on behalf of the employees they represent, but also for a host of “social justice” concerns.