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Celebrating four years of Janus Rights!

Should the government be able to force a public employee to pay for political activity they disagree with? Of course not. And thanks to the 2018 Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision, they can’t!

We see the positive impacts of the Janus decision on the lives of the public employees we work with every day,  and this year we’re highlighting their experiences as we celebrate the anniversary. Check out the video below to hear about how AFFT members got their voices back!

Since the Janus v. AFSCME ruling in June 2018, many public sector workers have asked us what their daily representation would be like if they resigned from the union. Here are two important things to remember:

1. Under current state laws, your union is still required to represent you.

Under the Public Employee Relations Act, a public sector union such as AFSCME, SEIU, UFCW, or PSEA is the “exclusive bargaining representative” for all employees in a workplace. That means the union represents every employee on labor contract issues with their employer whether they are union members or non-members. The union remains your exclusive representative and legally cannot discriminate against you on the basis of your status as a nonmember.

Before the Janus decision, non-members were required to pay agency fees as a condition of employment even if the employee disagreed with the political activities of the union. The Janus decision established that it is a free speech violation to force a teacher, state, or municipal employee to join or pay fees to a labor union.

2. If you are not satisfied with your union representation, you and your coworkers could make a change.

Some employees have chosen to say goodbye to overly political state and national unions and instead have worked with their co-workers to build a local, independent union. Workplaces that have local, independent unions provide the same services that state and national unions offer – without the large overhead costs and political agendas. For example, the Roscommon Teachers’ Association in Michigan cut ties with the NEA in 2012 and was able to reduce union dues from $980 to $600 per teacher per year. The union uses its dues to keep a labor attorney on retainer to handle workplace issues and grievances. If a majority of employees in a bargaining unit want to resign from their union, they could opt to reconstitute as a local-only union and recreate the same kind of collective services.

Isabel Blank

Isabel Blank is Communications Director at Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector employees offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining Americans for Fair Treatment in 2021, Isabel worked in media relations at Travelers Insurance and held government affairs and communications roles with Yankee Institute. She has a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish, both from the University of Connecticut (Go Huskies!). Isabel loves Crossfit and supporting her local Connecticut breweries.