Commentary: The Rio Grande Foundation, New Mexico’s free-market think tank, applauds the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME. The decision, handed down this morning, secures the right to work for all local- and state-government employees.
The Land of Enchantment is one of more than 20 states that allow unions to collect fees from government workers regardless of whether or not they wish to associate with organized labor. A growing number of states -- now a majority -- have passed right-to-work laws, which free workers from paying fees to a union as a precondition of employment. Now, thanks to this ruling, all government employees will be able to choose whether or not to support unions.
“This is a great day for worker freedom in New Mexico,” said Rio Grande Foundation President Paul Gessing said. “For too long, working for local or state government in the Land of Enchantment has meant financially supporting a variety of union causes, including higher taxes, job-killing regulations, single-payer healthcare, and environmental extremism.”
Continued Gessing: “The Janus victory is sweet, but in New Mexico, the work is just beginning. While we have long believed that coerced union payments are unconstitutional, it is critical that we now educate government employees of their right to opt out. Unions will aggressively work to make life difficult for workers who do not support the political goals of Big Labor, but we will be providing information to those workers, explaining that they no longer have to pay if they don’t want to.”
The left and labor bosses have argued that Janus would “eviscerate” the American labor movement. This assertion belies the fact that teachers in right-to-work states such as Arizona and Oklahoma have recently gone on strike (or walked off the job) for higher pay and benefits.
“Despite Janus,” Gessing explained, “government unions will remain a voice for bigger government. But moving forward, they will no longer be able to coerce workers into paying them -- private organizations -- for the privilege of teaching, prosecuting criminals, working for the parks and recreation department, or being a first responder. The Rio Grande Foundation applauds the High Court’s decision in this landmark case.”
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) applauds today’s decision in favor of Janus in Janus v. AFSCME. This ruling is a victory for free speech and individual rights. Teachers and other public sector members will now have freedom to choose to voluntarily join a union if they decide it will serve their interests, rather than endure compulsory fees to unions that put their own agenda first. Public sector unions will no longer be able to force non-members to pay bloated “agency fees” as a condition of employment.
“This is a great day for Freedom. The Supreme Court finally recognized that it is unconstitutional to force public employees to join or pay dues to a union as a condition of employment,” said State Representative Ron Hood of Ohio.
“Today’s Janus decision overturns a precedent set 41 years ago. This will allow workers to keep their pay, they will no longer be forced to pay fees that support a union’s collective bargaining efforts and administrative work,” said Robert Ordway, Director of the Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force at ALEC.
Americans for Prosperity New Mexico:
Today the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mark Janus in the monumental case for worker freedom and free speech, Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The decision overturned Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977), in which the Court ruled that unions can require public employees to pay fees to cover collective bargaining costs.
The Janus decision now expands worker freedom across the country, as more than five million public employees in 22 states that don’t have a right-to-work law, including New Mexico, are no longer forced to fund political advocacy without their consent.
Americans for Prosperity-New Mexico (AFP-NM) has been at the forefront of the push for right-to-work policies in the state, having launched in 2017 the “New Jobs New Mexico” campaign, a multilayered grassroots campaign to educate citizens about the impact of right-to-work.
AFP-NM State Director Burly Cain issued the following statement:
“This decision isn’t just a win for Mark Janus but a win for workers in New Mexico and across the country, too. First Amendment rights are unassailable. Forcing public workers to fund political activity to keep a job and support their family is not just unfair but also a violation of the bedrock principles enshrined in the Constitution.”
At issue in this case was the power of labor unions to collect “fair share” or “agency fees” from public employees who have opted out of the union in their workplace.
Mark Janus is a public employee in Illinois that challenged the condition that public workers are required to pay fees to union officials as a condition of working for the government and serving the public. Janus argued because his employer’s collective bargaining directly affects public policy issues like pension liabilities, taxes, spending, and more that he should not be compelled to fund this lobbying and political speech.