Sometime in the coming weeks the US Supreme Court is expected to issue an opinion in the case Janus v. AFSCME, a case educators and teachers’ unions have been closely watching for some time.
What’s the case all about? Mark Janus a child welfare worker in Illinois claims compelling him to pay dues to a union whose policies he doesn’t agree with is a violation of his constitutional rights. Janus argues that non-political dues – called agency fees — that employees have been forced to pay for years to fund collective bargaining are political because they involve the development of public policy and the involvement of tax dollars.
Attorneys for teacher unions argue that agency fees are necessary to prevent those who don’t pay fees called “free riders” from gaining the advantages of union contracts without paying for them.
Many expect the Court to rule against the unions but the justices could rule in any number of ways that uphold, overturn or further clarify existing law.
What impact will the case have on unions, teachers and schools? That depends. One thing that matters is location. North Carolina is one state that does not allow collective bargaining and does not collect agency fees. So, the direct impact is not expected to be as significant as in some states like California, Illinois or New York with large union representation, bargain collectively and also charge agency fees.
Still, a ruling to end agency fees could significantly impact teachers’unions at a national level. According to veteran teacher-union watcher Mike Antonucci, NEA said an adverse ruling could result in the loss of 300,000 members and over $50 million in revenue over two years. That’s a big ripple that will ultimately impact finances and operations in all states.
Want a better understanding of what Janus v. AFSCME is all about and its potential impact on teachers and schools? View a presentation below from Bellwether Education Partners.