Recent teacher strikes in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and anticipated strikes in Arizona have excited some in the labor movement who herald the strikes as a sign of a renewed era of union power.
More likely, the strikes are a concentrated attempt by government unions to pressure the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in their favor in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31.
The plaintiff in that case, Mark Janus, is an Illinois state employee who rightly contends that it is unconstitutional for the state to force him to financially support the highly political American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees as a condition of his employment. A decision in the case is expected in June, and most unions anticipate a loss.
One of the key union arguments in Janus is that the infringement of employees’ First Amendment rights that results from forcing them to pay a private, political, third-party entity against their will is justified by the “compelling interest” of state and local governments in preventing labor unrest.