The U. S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Janus public employee union fees case is breaking down into a question of self-determination or self-preservation but which side is which? “In a win for individual liberty, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled, in a much-anticipated decision in Janus v. AFSCME, that public employees will no longer be required to pay involuntary agency fees to special-interest groups,” Jude Schwalbach writes in a commentary piece in The Daily Signal. “The 5-4 decision overturns the 1977 Supreme Court ruling in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which upheld agency fees to protect collective bargaining.”
“Agency fees require public employees to pay a portion of their earnings to the union, even when the employee has elected not to join the union, in order to fund union collective bargaining. As a result of the Janus decision, public-sector employees, such as teachers, can now opt in to paying agency fees, instead of being forced to support a union against their will.” Schwalbach is a member of the Young Leader’s program at the Heritage Foundation, which distributes The Daily Signal.
As you might expect, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) takes a different view. “The ruling, which overturned a unanimous 1977 decision supported by such conservative luminaries as William Rehnquist, Lewis Powell, and Warren Burger, makes little logical or legal sense, running counter to the justices’ own recent case law governing public employee speech,” Hank Reichman writes on the academe blog maintained by the AAUP. “If proof were still needed that the court majority is more concerned with the raw exercise of political power than with legal principle, this decision alone should be adequate.” Reichman is not a member of the young leaders program at the AAUP.
Meanwhile, Erika Sanzi, who identifies herself as a former member of two teachers unions, writes, “When half the high schools in America don’t offer Calculus and the average counselor has a caseload of 482 students, we can’t pretend that equity and opportunity aren’t stuck in the clutches of an ugly fight about where dollars should be spent. And because of inflexible and irresponsible collective bargaining agreements—many from decades ago—and the resulting contractual obligations, superintendents in cash strapped districts find that more than 95 percent of their money is spoken for before they buy one book or add one class.”