The US Supreme Court has ruled that no public employee in the country can be forced to pay dues or fees to a union. This affirms a constitutional right for millions of government employees nationwide. You now have the right to choose to pay union dues or to keep your hard-earned money. To stop paying money to your union, click here.
The Janus case is simple.
Public employees can no longer be forced to financially support a union of which they do not want to be members. Generally speaking, workers are still covered under their bargaining agreements (this is known as “exclusive representation,” and it is something unions fight for), and the contract will still apply.
Approximately 5 million unionized government workers in 22 states are affected by the Janus decision.
Currently, 28 states already grant the “right-to-work” without forced unionization to most or all public workers, while about 5 million workers in the 22 states (including Maine) without these right-to-work laws still had to pay their unions regardless of whether or not the unions are serving their best interests. The Janus case changed that – all public employees now have a choice.
Workers could already opt out of union membership, but they still had to pay to support union activities.
It’s true that unionized public employees could already choose not to be members of the unions organized in their workplaces. However, these employees were still forced to financially support the unions by paying what are typically called agency fees or “fair share fees” – supposedly for funding general operating costs for the union, but often used for political purposes that some members do not support. A ruling in favor of Janus means that public employees can no longer be forced to financially support unions of which they do not want to be members.
If I opt out of the union, what happens to my salary and benefits? What about my pension? Can I be fired?
None of your benefits change and you cannot be fired. Whether they are a member or not, workers are subject to the contract provisions regarding salary and benefits. Pension benefits are set in state law or, less often, by a contract. Either way, this does not change. You cannot be fired.
I’m worried about legal liability at work. Do I need a union to have liability insurance?
Many unions cover their members with liability insurance. Most employers have this coverage as well. But you don’t need either to have coverage; it can typically be acquired at a much lower cost than union dues. Check with your insurance provider for details. If you are a teacher or school employee, another option is the Association of American Educators, who already insure thousands of teachers nationwide.
Will the union retaliate against me?
While unions cannot legally take away your job, salary and benefits, some may retaliate in other ways. Some government unions have publicly posted the information of ex-members while individual employees have been bullied. One union said it would use “any legal means” to combat members who want to leave.
Is there any legal support available to me, if I need it?
MAYBE. If you have experienced a challenge in exercising your newly restored rights under Janus V. AFSCME, or if you believe you may have legal recourse after suffering any level of recrimination after resigning from your union, assistance may be available to you. If you experience any legal problems with your union, contact legal help here.