In the 2018 court case Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mandatory union fees in the public sector violate public sector employees’ right to free speech. As a result, public sector unions, such as the AFSCME, cannot collect any fees associated with sustaining a union as a condition of employment. Despite this decision, many states continue to maintain rules that make it difficult for workers to choose whether they want to financially support a union. Alaska and Texas are changing this, and other states should join them.
The Janus v. AFSCME decision stated that government workers had to “affirmatively consent” before union fees could be deducted from their paychecks. But in many states, workers are not being clearly informed of their right to abstain from paying union fees. Additionally, workers who don’t want to support their union have been told they must wait until a limited period—sometimes as short as 10 days—after current collective bargaining agreements expire before they can opt out. These rules preclude workers from providing affirmative consent and are inconsistent with the Janus decision.
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