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After Janus, the fight begins to make unions comply

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Amidst the cable news hysterics about the daily Trump administration drama, real or imagined, major policy changes are afoot, the scope of which is being undermined or ignored by those covering our politics.

Chief among those is today’s Supreme Court decision in Janus vs. AFSCME, in which the nation’s highest court repudiated in utterly unambiguous terms the damage that government employee unions have committed in the decades during which they’ve wielded almost unchecked power over the public workplace.

{mosads}The unions’ facade of employee advocacy has been stripped away once and for all.


The justices exposed the absurd 1977 compromise in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that allowed the unions to continue collecting “fair share” fees even from nonmembers for just what it was — capitulation to union extortion.

But there’s a catch.

While the Janus ruling lays bare the unions’ motives and tactics, we know better than to think they’ll clean up their act voluntarily.

If recent history in Washington, Oregon and California is any indication, just the opposite is true.

In this state as in no other, the unions have made it clear they have no more respect for the law than they do for the wishes of their members.

More than a year before the Supreme Court heard the Janus case this past February, for example, Washington voters were presented with a ballot measure funded entirely by organized labor that claimed to protect seniors from identity theft but was, in fact, simply a way to exempt union-represented workers from normal public disclosure laws so they couldn’t be informed of their right to opt out of union dues under a court 2014 ruling similar to Janus.

More recently, the Democrat-dominated legislatures in numerous states have passed of bills this year that union leaders believe will inoculate them from the effects of Janus.

One new law would ensure union operatives are given exclusive access to new workers in hopes of duping them to sign irrevocable union membership cards before they can hear opposing points of view.

Another would put in place the legal framework necessary to require government employers to seize full union dues from employees’ pay automatically, even if the employee never joined the union or authorized the deductions.

Meanwhile, the unions have been quietly amending their bylaws to make the opting-out process as difficult as possible.

Among other tactics, the unions are refusing to consider opt-out requests unless they’re submitted during an arbitrary two-week annual window. In other cases, the unions simply disregard requests, forcing the workers to take them to court – a time-consuming and expensive proposition when you’re spending your own money instead of your members.

In no way can these acts of desperation supersede a Supreme Court ruling, of course, and there’s little doubt the courts will eventually strike them down. In the meantime, the job of informing workers about rights their own union is trying to suppress and deny will grow exponentially because Janus affects literally millions of government workers nationwide.

Government employee unions won’t just do the right thing because the law, the court or the Constitution tell them to. They’re still going to need as many watchdogs as ever, and this landmark legal victory won’t make us any less vigilant.

What’s different now, after Janus, is that the unions can no longer even pretend they hold the moral high ground in this debate.

The court saw to that, and we can’t let anyone forget it.

Brian Minnich is executive vice president of the Freedom Foundation, a non-profit think and action tank dedicated to reversing the hold public-sector unions have on government. He served for 19 years as the legislative affairs director for the Building Industry Association of Washington after working on Capitol Hill for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Tags Janus v AFSCME Mitch McConnell

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