These 20 States Call for End of Forced Unionism

Twenty states are backing a lawsuit seeking to overturn mandatory union membership for public sector employees, arguing that forcing them to pay fees is akin to “the forced subsidization of a political party.”

The states, led by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette (R), filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court voicing their support for Illinois state worker Mark Janus’s lawsuit against the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The suit seeks to bar government agencies from requiring union dues or fee payments as a condition of employment. The states argue that the Supreme Court erred in the 1977 Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which said such arrangements were constitutional.

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin joined Michigan in filing the brief. Those states have right to work laws, which prohibit mandatory unionism in the private sector, and are led by Republican attorneys general.

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to take up a case Thursday which aims at ending mandatory union dues for all public-sector workers.

The case seeks to reverse a decades-old ruling by the court which affirmed the right of labor groups to collect fees from workers who did not want to belong to their workplace union. Lead plaintiff Mark Janus filed the lawsuit alongside two other Illinois state workers.

The lawsuit argues that mandatory union fees in the public sector are a violation of the first amendment. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is the primary union named in the lawsuit, but the ultimate goal is to end mandatory union dues for all public-sector workers.

Employees who do not wish to belong to their workplace union can be required to pay a fee in many states. That fee can only cover collective bargaining costs and not political activities. The lawsuit argues public-sector collective bargaining and political lobbying are indistinguishable.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the lawsuit March 21 by affirming an earlier district court decision. The decision opened the door for an appeal to the Supreme Court. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTW) has been assisting the state workers alongside the Liberty Justice Center (LJC).

“With the Supreme Court agreeing to hear the Janus case, we are now one step closer to freeing over 5 million public sector teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other employees from the injustice of being forced to subsidize a union as a condition of working for their own government,” NRTW President Mark Mix said in a statement provided by InsideSources. “We are hopeful that by the end of this Supreme Court term, the High Court will finally end this anomaly and fully protect the First Amendment rights of public sector workers against an injustice that has existed for over half a century.”

Labor unions and their supporters argue that optional dues encourage workers to free-ride. Unions are obligated to represent everyone in a workplace once they get voted in as the exclusive representative regardless of whether they pay. States that have right-to-work protections have outlawed the practice of mandatory dues or fees.

“Every union-represented teacher, police officer, caregiver or other public service worker may choose whether or not to join the union — but the union is required to negotiate on behalf of all workers whether they join or not,” AFSCME noted July 7. “Since all the workers benefit from the union’s gains, it’s only fair that everyone chip in toward the cost.”

Alex D.

Alex D is a conservative journalist, who covers all issues of importance for conservatives. He writes for Supreme Insider, Red State Nation, Defiant America, and Right Journalism. He brings attention and insight from what happens in the White House to the streets of American towns, because it all has an impact on our future, and the country left for our children. Exposing the truth is his ultimate goal, mixed with wit where it's appropriate, and feels that journalism shouldn't be censored. Join him & let's spread the good word!

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