On June 27, 2018, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision that affects the rights of public-sector employees across the country. The decision, Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, involved a public employee, Mark Janus, who declined to join a union but was nevertheless required under a union contract to pay union fees, sometimes referred to as “agency fees” or “fair share fees.” For years, these compulsory union fees were considered legal.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Janus was clear; compulsory union fees are now unconstitutional:
Neither an agency fee nor any other payment to the union may be deducted from a nonmember’s wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay. By agreeing to pay, nonmembers are waiving their First Amendment rights, and such a waiver cannot be presumed. Rather to be effective, the waiver must be freely given and shown by clear and compelling evidence. Unless employees clearly and affirmatively consent before any money is taken from them, this standard cannot be met.
Janus, 585 U.S. ___, slip op. at 48 (2018) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
Now that the Supreme Court has issued its ruling in Janus, many public sector unions must now determine what their response will be to the Court’s decision. For years, public school teachers across Pennsylvania have been forced to financially support a union as a condition of their employment, even if they were not a union member.
The Fairness Center is providing free representation to four such Pennsylvania public school teachers who are not union members, but who are compelled to pay for union representation they neither want nor asked for. The compelled union fees the unions demand from them as a condition of their employment violate their First Amendment rights. The Fairness Center has filed a lawsuit, Hartnett v. PSEA, on their behalf in order to protect their constitutional rights. The Hartnett lawsuit seeks to provide these teachers with a choice; where they will not be forced to pay for union activity and representation they do not agree with or support and be able to keep their jobs.
If you believe you have been hurt by a public employee union official and are seeking to speak with the Fairness Center, please click here.
Mark Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31