In a landmark decision for First Amendment rights, the U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that public employees cannot be compelled to pay union fees as a condition of employment. The 5-4 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME restores the First Amendment rights of freedom of association and free speech to more than five million government employees nationwide. The decision is likely to decrease the funding and political clout of powerful public employee unions in Minnesota and 21 other non-right-to-work states.
Weighing a case brought by Mark Janus, an Illinois child support specialist, against the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the High Court ruled that forcing Janus to pay agency or “fair-share” fees to cover the cost of collective bargaining violates his First Amendment rights because collective bargaining is inherently political. In Minnesota, fair share fees are about 85% of full union dues.
The ruling appears to require that employers of “fair share” fee payers must stop deducting fees immediately until they have affirmative consent from the employees to do so. Center of the American Experiment estimates that 10,000 or more public employees who pay fair share fees will immediately see an increase in their paycheck with the end of forced union fees.