Expecting Defeat In Supreme Court, Public Sector Unions Try to Slow Exodus of Members

A case titled Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31 is on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on a petition for a writ of certiorari. The 7th Circuit’s opinion in the case is here. It is widely expected that the Court will grant certiorari. The case raises issues substantially identical to those in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.

In Friedrichs, decided last year, the Court split 4-4 following the death of Justice Scalia, and therefore left standing a 9th Circuit decision adverse to the plaintiff, a California school teacher. In Janus, like Friedrichs, plaintiffs are asking the Court to overturn the ruling in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education and bar public employees from being forced into unions, or from being required to support unions via the fiction of “fair share” contributions. It is widely believed that Rebecca Friedrichs would have won her case had Scalia lived, and that, with Neil Gorsuch now sitting in place of Scalia, Janus and his co-plaintiff will win, Abood will be overturned, and public sector unions will be dealt a very serious blow.

Public sector unions are the main source of support for Democratic Party candidates and liberal policies. Campaign finance is much-debated, but in my opinion there is only one real campaign finance scandal: the fact that unions are able to use the force of law take money from people unwillingly, and spend it on politics, in ways of which many members disapprove. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Mark Janus, that corrupt practice will finally come to an end. It could be the most significant development in American politics in a very long time.

The public sector unions are bracing for defeat. In Minnesota, where I live, the most powerful political force, by far, is Education Minnesota, the state’s teachers’ union. Education Minnesota is beginning a campaign to trick teachers into signing up for the indefinite future, so that they will not be liberated by the anticipated Janus decision. Tom Steward has the story at Center of the American Experiment’s web site:

The state’s most powerful public employee union—Education Minnesota—has quietly begun laying the groundwork to prevent the potential loss of thousands of members and millions of dollars, depending on the outcome of a landmark labor rights case widely expected to go before the U.S. Supreme Court next term.
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Education Minnesota recently asked its local union representatives to get all 86,000 teachers to sign a “Membership Renewal” form that automatically renews payment of union fees every year unless the teacher remembers to opt out in writing. …

“The teachers’ union is betting that most teachers will just sign the card without reading it, or understanding what it means—and just keep paying,” said Kim Crockett, Vice President of Center of the American Experiment.

This is the language that the union wants its members to agree to. I find it almost incredible:

I agree to submit dues to Education Minnesota and hereby request and voluntarily authorize my employer to deduct from my wages an amount equal to the regular monthly dues uniformly applicable to members of Education Minnesota or monthly service fee, and further that such amount so deducted be sent to such local union for and on my behalf. This authorization shall remain in effect and shall be automatically renewed from year to year, irrespective of my membership in the union, unless I revoke it by submitting written notice to both my employer and the local union during the seven-day period that begins on September 24 and ends on September 30.

(Emphasis added.) Thus, the union seeks to deprive its members of the rights they likely will be accorded by the Supreme Court. (It is worth noting that virtually all teachers in Minnesota, and likely in some other states, are involuntary union members. It would be hard to find a Minnesota teacher who has ever voted to be represented by a union.) Can the union’s stratagem possibly work? I am retired from the law business, but the word “consideration” occurs to me. Still, I am told that labor law is often so favorable to unions that devices like this one may effectively preserve union dominance even after the Supreme Court has set public employees free.

Similar campaigns to frustrate the rights of public employees are being waged, or soon will be waged, in non-right to work states across the country. The stakes are very high. More at the link.

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