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 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
Before the election our focus was on leadership development,”
says Mia McIver, vice president for organizing for the University
Council-AFT, “and the election brought us a sense of new
urgency.” Strong leaders will provide the underpinning for the
campaigns the union will undertake as it faces the Trump
administration and a predictable tsunami of anti-union and
On April 14, the California Court of Appeals unanimously
overturned the lower court’s decision in the Vergara v.
California case. The suit sought to dismantle seniority and due
process rights for teachers in the name of students’ equal access
to education. The appellate court wisely ruled that there is no
constitutional link between tenure and student performance.
Education unions and public sector unions are facing legal
attacks designed to destroy our ability to represent our members.
Not surprisingly, these cases are supported by the usual
anti-union law firms and wealthy backers. What follows is a
snapshot of the cases CFT and other unions are now fighting.
Member organizers from local unions throughout the state joined
forces at Palomar College to meet one-on-one with part-time
faculty agency fee payers who had not yet signed their union
cards — and asked them to join the union.