Since 1977, when the United States Supreme Court decided Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, it has been constitutional for labor unions to require non-members who benefited from collective bargaining efforts to pay dues to ensure “labor peace.” The Court in 1977 distinguished this from dues that went to support the union’s political activities. Those payments were deemed to violate the First Amendment.
Some 20 plus years later, Abood has been overturned. In a case arising out of Illinios, Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, a divided Supreme Court held that forcing non-union workers to finance union activities “violates the free speech rights. . . by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.”
Justice Alito drafted the opinion and Chief Justice Roberts along with Justices Kennedy, Thomas, Gorsuch joined the majority opinion. Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan dissented.
The long term effect of this decision will be interesting to follow. Unions will need to adapt their recruitment and bargaining strategies. Workers will need to determine if they want to remain in the union or opt out. There are already interest groups on both sides contacting employees and espousing their positions.
It is unknown what will happen, only time will tell, but it is a safe bet that the Janus decision will have widespread impacts, one way or the other, all across the country.