Supreme Court rules Connecticut government employees can opt out of unions without paying fees

Janus v. AFSCME decision a win for public-sector workers and free speech rights

(Hartford, June 26, 2018) -- The Supreme Court today restored freedom of speech rights for government workers by overturning the long-standing precedent that forced public-sector employees to pay fees to unions in order to keep their jobs.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court ruled public-sector employees must affirmatively opt to join the union, rather than be enrolled automatically upon employment.

Union dues and fees forced government employees — even those who chose to opt out of a union — to support political speech and work by union leadership because, as the Supreme Court affirmed, all government union work is inherently political.

As an advocate of free market principles, limited government and freedom of speech, Yankee Institute applauds this decision and the courage of plaintiff Mark Janus for daring to challenge the status quo.

"Yankee Institute believes all Connecticut's people should have as much freedom over how to spend their hard-earned paychecks as possible," said Yankee Institute President Carol Platt Liebau, "and of course that includes our state employees. For us, Janus is a case about government workers having freedom of choice. And we support any decision that upholds the rights of Connecticut's citizens."

Despite claims to the contrary, this decision will not end public sector unions or collective bargaining. Connecticut public employees who opt out of membership will not lose their benefits as a result of this decision due to the SEBAC agreement.

Rather, it will simply allow government employees and teachers a choice — and a voice — in their workplace without having their hard-earned money support a union they do not wish to be a part of.

"Ultimately, for each individual government worker, it comes down to whether being part of a government union is the best choice for his or her family," Liebau said. "Financial and membership decisions should be freely-made, not forced. Now Connecticut's public-sector employees have the right to make those decision for themselves -- as they should."

While union leadership sees this as a step backward for their power and influence, this decision is, in fact, a step forward for individual rights for public sector employees.

Facts about the Janus v. AFSCME case:

  • Mark Janus is an Illinois state employee
  • The Janus decision overturns 1977 decision Abood v. Detroit Board of Education
  • Abood established precedent that state employees who opted out of union membership must pay “agency fees” for collective bargaining representation
  • Janus decision says public sector employees must affirmatively join the union
  • Mark Janus paid $600 per year in agency fees
  • Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association challenged the precedent in 2016, but the court split 4-4 after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia

As always, Yankee Institute will be there to help answer any questions that public sector employees or union members may have as to their rights in the wake of this historic decision.

To learn more about opting out of union representation visit ctworkers.org

For bookings or interviews please contact Marc Fitch or Elisabeth Kines at Yankee Institute: (860) 282-0722 or marc@yankeeinstitute.org and elisabeth@yankeeinstitute.org

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