In 2018, legislatures considered 202 bills related to public-sector union policy

In 2018, state legislatures nationwide considered 202 bills related to public-sector union policy, acting in anticipation of or in response to the Supreme Court’s decision last summer in Janus v. AFSCME.
 
In Janus, the high court ruled that public-sector unions cannot require non-member employees to pay agency fees to cover the costs of non-political union activities. In 2018, legislatures in 34 states considered 202 pieces of legislation relevant to public-sector union policy. Of these 202 bills, 88 were sponsored by Democrats and 91 by Republicans; the remainder were sponsored by bipartisan groups or committees. Thirty bills were enacted into law, representing 14.85 percent of the total.
 
More about Janus: Generally, members of an employee union pay fees to that union. These fees support the union’s activities, which can include collective bargaining and contract administration, as well as political activities, such as lobbying. Some public-sector employees do not wish to join a union, and some are opposed to unions’ political activities. In 1977, the Supreme Court ruled in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that employees cannot be required to give financial support to a union’s political activities. However, the court found that it was not a violation of employees’ rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to require them to pay fees to support union activities from which they benefit, such as collective bargaining. It is this ruling that was overturned by Janus, which held that such fees are not constitutional.
 
Proponents of Janus argue that being required to give any financial support to a union violated employees’ First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. Opponents of Janus contend that these fees were not used for political purposes and were necessary to support the costs associated with representing non-members



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Jerrick Adams

Jerrick Adams is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at jerrick.adams@ballotpedia.org

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