June 2019 marks the one year anniversary of a landmark Supreme Court decision that is threatening the very core of the political influence of public employee unions. The core of that influence, as it always is, is money.
Public employee unions have two tiers of membership, full dues paying members and “agency-fee” payers. In states that do not have right to work legislation, public employees who did not want to join the union were still required to pay “agency-fees” because they were benefiting from the results of the collective bargaining.
Janus v. AFSCME in 2018 on a 5-4 vote decided that requiring non union members to pay “agency-fees” in the public sector was a violation of the first amendment.
The plaintiff, Mark Janus, worked for the Illinois Department of Healthcare Services. His “agency-fees” (that are supposed to just cover the cost of collective bargaining since he didn’t want to join the union) were 78% of the full union dues.
The core of the argument coming from Janus is that a portion of the money he was paying into the public employee union was still being used for political speech by the union that he did not agree with.
The court agreed with him and fast forward to today is where the politics come in.
Organized public employee labor is a major pillar of the political coalition that elects Democrats and the Left in general. The requirement to pay “agency-fees” is a big part of that power because it is a forced pot of money that can be drawn on.
The Janus decision is hitting the union pocket books hard. California Policy Center did a review of four large California agencies, including San Diego County, Orange Unified School District, Santa Ana Unified School District, and Los Angeles Unified School District.
Public Employee unions are not required to disclose their revenue or membership numbers. The best estimate that California Policy Center can make is that California’s public sector unions collect and spend $800 million per year and that amount has already dropped by 6.4 percent, so total union revenue has been reduced by around $50 million.
Will Swaim, President of California Policy Center was recently on the Sam Sorbo radio show in Los Angeles talking about Janus.
So if this is the effect of the Janus decision just in California, you can imagine what’s happening nationwide as “agency-fee” payers realize they no longer have to contribute towards their public employee unions if they no longer want too. This is less political money now sitting on the sidelines of the collective Left to aim at conservatives and the impact will continue to be felt for years to come.