The Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments on February 26, 2018 for Janus v. AFSCME Council 31. It is one of the most critical cases regarding unions and their ability to represent workers in a long time. It will be decided by this summer, but it is important to stay on top of the news and understand what it means for collective bargaining across the nation.
Pitta Law Firm has studied this carefully as it worked its way through the legal system and provided information for trades here in New York. We feel it is important that everyone stay informed and understand this case, however it is decided.
Mark Janus is a child support specialist for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. He is not a member of AFSCME, but benefits from the collective bargaining agreement. As such, he was charged his “fair share” fee by Council 31. He sued to stop the collection of this fee.
The case has made it through the system and is now before the Supreme Court. It is similar in many ways to the 2016 case Friedrichs v. California Teacher’s Association. That decision by the Appeals Court was upheld on a 4-4 tie, but since then Justice Neil Gorsuch has joined the Supreme Court.
The national leadership of AFSCME has been the main defender of the local council, arguing that “fair share” fees are essential to the function of the collective bargaining process. In a statement issued by the national office:
"Unions work because we all pay our fair share and we all benefit from what we negotiate together. Fair share fees provide public service workers with the power in numbers they need to negotiate better wages, benefits and protections that improve work conditions and set standards for everyone.
"Each public service worker chooses whether or not to join a union, but the union is still required by law to represent and negotiate on behalf of all public service workers – members and non-members alike. All employees receive the wage increases, benefits and workplace rights negotiated through the union."
What does it mean in New York?
Because this is a Supreme Court case, the decision will have effect nationally. On February 25, 2018, Frank Morano of AM 970 “The Answer” hosted Pitta LLP Partner Barry N. Saltzman, Esq. and American Institute for Economic Research President Dr. Edward Stringham on his radio show “Morano in the Morning” for a discussion about the United States Supreme Court's consideration of this case.
You can hear the podcast of this appearance here. This is a critical issue for unions everywhere, and it is important that we all stay on top of it.