A year ago today, June 27, 2018, my life and the lives of more than 5 million government workers changed. The Supreme Court ruled that government unions could no longer force us to pay money to support the union’s political agenda as a condition of keeping our jobs.
What impact has that had? Since the court’s decision, an estimated 400,000 public sector workers are no longer paying “agency fees” of $500 to $1,000 a year. Others are exercising their First Amendment right to leave their union, or in the case of new employees, choosing not to join a union that doesn’t represent their views.
But not all public employees have been fortunate enough to exercise their rights. In the last year, government unions across the nation have been actively working to undermine workers’ Janus rights. Union leaders are pushing legislation that would prevent government employers and other organizations from informing workers of their newly restored First Amendment rights, and worse, attempting to trap those looking to resign union membership into remaining members.
Imagine being told you had to wait until a specific time window to exercise your First Amendment rights. And not just 24 or 48 hours to process a request, but months – even years – until the union decides you can exercise your constitutional right. Shalea Oliver, Cara O’Callaghan and Tommy Few are just a few of the thousands of folks whose requests to leave after the decision were repeatedly denied.
At the Liberty Justice Center, we’ve had nearly 1,000 workers ask us for help leaving their government union. To protect workers’ Janus rights, we’ve already filed 11 federal lawsuits in six states, with more to come.
This issue should concern all Americans, not just workers in the public sector. It is a question of defending our constitutional right to choose which organizations we want to join, and what political causes we want to support.
Next week is Independence Day, a celebration of our country’s hard-fought independence from tyrannical rule. We didn’t want anyone to have the power to monopolize our political beliefs or take our money for their political agenda then. We shouldn’t let go of that conviction and commitment to our freedom now.