No one was surprised when the Janus decision from the
U.S. Supreme Court came down over the summer. In the months since
then, however, locals across California have defied predictions
of a mass exodus of dues-paying members. In fact, after two years
of recruiting new employees and convincing agency fee payers to
join, union ranks are growing.
On June 27, the storm clouds were gathering. The Janus
v. ASFCME decision had just come down from the U.S. Supreme
Court in a 5-4 ruling, overturning 40 years of legal precedent
and marking the abrupt end of union fair share, or agency fee,
for public employees.
Now non-union members who benefit from the hard work of unions
who still represent them at the bargaining table would no longer
be required to pay their fair share.
On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned decades of
precedent and eliminated the right of public sector unions to
collect fair share, or agency fees, from non-members.
The justices ruled 5-4 in favor of Mark Janus, an Illinois fee
payer, in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, overturning the 1977
precedent established in Abood v. Detroit Board of
Education. Those backing the case clearly hoped the decision
would cripple union operations, but with so much at stake for
educators and public education, CFT members have not only chosen
to stay united but have gained in strength as a result.
This morning in a 5-4 ruling the U.S. Supreme Court decided in
favor of Mark Janus in the Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 case. The
ruling overturns decades of precedent and eliminates the ability
of public sector unions to collect fair share, or agency
For years, the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court
threatened to clip unions’ wings if the right case came before
Classified AFT locals across California have been preparing for
the decision in Janus v. AFSCME by asking agency fee payers
to become full members, and recruiting at new employee
orientations. The membership drives have meant an influx of new
enthusiasm and a renewed sense of union pride.
The forthcoming Supreme Court ruling in Janus vs.
AFSCME poses a serious threat to union strength. Any
union is only as strong as its membership base, and when unions
have higher percentages of the workers in its unit as active
members, they are stronger at the bargaining table, and better
able to protect its workers from violations of their rights.
The Riverside County community of Menifee is on the upswing. More
than 1,000 new homes are under construction, new businesses are
opening their doors, and new families are moving in. The Menifee
Union School District sees increased enrollment on the horizon.
The Menifee Council of Classified Employees is also expanding. In
fact, the CFT recently honored the local for placing second in
two categories recognizing member growth: most new members (151)
and highest rate of growth (42 percent).
The lawsuit Janus v. AFSCME asks the U.S. Supreme Court
to decide whether public sector unions may continue to charge
non-members in a workplace represented by the union a fee
(“agency fee” or “fair share”) equal to the cost of representing
them. The court’s ruling is expected early next year.
We learned in the final days of September that the U.S. Supreme
Court will take up another union fair share case. With the
court’s ruling coming early next year, it feels like we are on a
ship with an iceberg rapidly approaching. Fortunately, as we
prepare for an unfavorable decision in the Janus v.
AFSCME case, we had already prepared for the
similar Friedrichs v. California Teachers