In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v AFSCME, it appeared as if the question had been settled. The state cannot force public sector workers who are not members of a union to pay dues (or “fair share fees”) to that union to support its political speech. This practice is a violation of the worker’s First Amendment rights. But it seems that at least one teacher’s union in Pennsylvania didn’t get the memo. They’re still doing it, and now a few of their victims are taking them to court. (Free Beacon)
Pennsylvania teachers’ unions continue to include mandatory fees from nonmembers in new contracts despite a Supreme Court decision that declared coercive payments unconstitutional, according to a lawsuit.
The lawsuit comes in the wake of the 2018 Janus v. American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees ruling. The 5-4 decision said that government agencies violated the First Amendment rights of workers if they required employees to pay dues or fees to labor organizations. Democratic Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf, who did not respond to requests for comment, benefited from nearly $6 million in PAC spending from government unions during his reelection campaign.
One non-union teacher suing to enforce the Janus ruling in Pennsylvania called the situation “absurd.”
“Absurd” is certainly a pretty good word for it. How on Earth is this union still finalizing contracts with these fees in them? They’re simply ignoring the Supreme Court and continuing to do business as usual.
Part of the problem appears to come from Pennsylvania state law and a previous court ruling. Pennsylvania still has pre-Janus laws regarding fair share fees on the books. When a group of teachers went to court seeking to have the laws struck down, a U.S. District Court judge somehow ruled that “the onus of enforcement should fall on labor unions to end the practice.”
So let’s see if I’ve got this straight. The non-union members had to go all the way to the Supreme Court to have the fees declared unconstitutional, but this judge feels that the responsibility for seeing that the unions comply with the Janus ruling should fall on the unions that the ruling was reigning in? We can see how well that’s working out. There are at least seven school districts where the unions have continued to work fair-share fees into their contracts and they are still collecting the fees.
What’s worse, as the Free Beacon reminds us, is that a recent poll showed that as many as half of the non-union teachers they surveyed were somehow either unaware of the Janus ruling or didn’t understand it sufficiently to know their rights. It also doesn’t help that some of these unions have been caught putting out bogus information, telling teachers who wanted to opt out of the fees that the ruling didn’t apply to them or that they might lose all their benefits if they chose to do so.
The whole reason the teachers needed that ruling in the first place was that the unions were acting in a dishonest fashion. For a judge to turn around and place the burden of enforcement on the unions is simply a case of telling the fox to guard the henhouse. This needs to come to an end immediately.