Today the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Janus v. American Federation of State, Country, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 (AFSCME) that non-union workers cannot be forced to pay fees to public sector unions. Almost 5.5 million workers across 22 states are now free to choose whether to pay union fees. This landmark case some spectators say, will protect workers’ rights and their freedom of speech. The decision is also a win for Atlas Network partners involved with the case.
“Forcing free and independent individuals to endorse ideas they find objectionable raises serious First Amendment concerns,” writes Justice Samuel Alito in the majority opinion. “The First Amendment is violated when money is taken from nonconsenting employees for a public-sector union; employees must choose to support the union before anything is taken from them.”
Several Atlas Network partner organizations aided Mark Janus in the case. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the Competitive Enterprise Institute both filed amicus briefs. Attorneys from the Illinois Policy Institute’s litigation partner, the Liberty Justice Center, and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation represented Janus. Another Atlas Network partner, Freedom Foundation, is preparing to launch an outreach campaign to inform affected workers of their rights.
"The Supreme Court today in Janus v. AFSCME announced its basic rule of human decency and common sense: consent matters-and our hardworking public-sector workers can no longer be forced to pay for political speech or other activities without their affirmative consent," said Robert Alt, the president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute.
Similarly, the Buckeye Institute also announced the launch of its WorkersChoose.org website, which provides public-sector workers with information about the proper notification procedure for union fee consent.