by Dr. Terry Stoops
Former Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
In Janus v. American Federations of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that “agency fees” imposed by unions on non-union members are unconstitutional. The National Education Association responded,
In a 5-to-4 decision, which casts aside decades of precedents and laws, the court has eliminated a public-sector union’s ability to collect “fair share” or “agency” fees from workers who choose not to join as union members but are still protected by union agreements. The ruling undermines the ability of educators to come together and bargain collectively on behalf of students.
It is a strange statement that gets to the heart of why a majority of justices opposed the imposition of agency fees. The desire (and constitutional rights) of individual employees were disregarded in the name of coming together to collectively bargain on behalf of teachers, not students.
Kate Walsh of the National Council on Teacher Quality points out that it’s gut-check time for the unions.
Union leaders should use this decision as an opportunity to revisit the reforms they’ve long resisted. It is a time to step back and look at where the teaching profession is today and where it needs to go instead of how things worked in the past. This is a powerful opportunity for union leaders to hit the reset button and show their members and the public that the number one priority is putting effective teachers in the best position to provide students with a quality education.
I am not optimistic that they will revisit the reforms they’ve long resisted, even if it is what is necessary to preserve the union post-Janus.