BUCKSTEIN: SCOTUS Rules in Favor of 
Public Employee Worker Freedom

In the Public Sector, Everything Unions Do Is Inherently Political

PORTLAND, Ore. – The U.S. Supreme Court today restored First Amendment rights of free speech and free association for public employees in Oregon and nationwide. This is truly a victory for everyone who values the freedom of workers to associate with and financially support only those organizations with which they agree.

Ruling in favor of Illinois public employee Mark Janus in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Court said he, and all other public employees nationwide, do indeed have Constitutional Rights that have been violated by the collection of so-called “fair share” or “agency” fees from their paychecks to pay for services the employees don’t want, or from unions whose political goals they oppose.

The Court has long allowed both public and private sector employees to opt out of union membership and the political portion of union dues, but it has allowed unions to collect fees for bargaining and representation purposes. Now, Mark Janus has successfully argued that in the public sector, everything his union does is inherently political, and therefore he should not be compelled to support that organization with his money.

The union compulsion the Court ended for public employees today brings to mind the well-known statement by Thomas Jefferson:

To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

Cascade Policy Institute stands with Mark Janus and with Oregon public employees, including public school teachers, who feel as he does that they want their rights to free speech and free association protected.

Nothing in the Janus decision prohibits unions from organizing and collecting voluntary dues from public employees. The ruling simply restores the First Amendment rights of public employees to say “no” to unions with which they don’t want to associate. Today is truly a day to celebrate the restoration of rights long denied a large group of citizens in Oregon and nationwide.

Steve Buckstein

Steve Buckstein helped found Cascade Policy Institute in January, 1991 and served as its president until 2004. As a senior policy analyst, he writes and speaks both in Oregon and nationally on several policy issues including education and Social Security reform.

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