Janus v. AFSCME Creates New Obstacles For American Unions

A spokesman for the Communication Workers of America chapter in Syracuse, explains the potential fallout of the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME. (c) 2018 Don Locke

Click here to learn what the Supreme Court’s decision in the Janus v. AFSCME case, may mean for America’s unions.

Audio Transcription: Janus Decision Fallout

By Keir Chapman SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — On June 27, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of Mark Janus, in the now landmark case Janus v. AFSCME. Citing freedom of speech, Janus argued public sector unions should not be able to charge agency fees to employees who opted not to join the union, in order to receive representation.

The decision handed down by the high court has the potential to hamstring unions, as less fees means less monetary resources to operate. Don Locke, the political coordinator for the Communication Workers of America chapter in Syracuse, delved into the details on how unions might be affected.

“There will be less union dues, which will hinder their ability to bargain effectively,” Locke said. “Bargaining isn’t two sitting down at the table. You have information requests, you have research, you have legal counsel. There’s a lot that goes in to bargaining.”

The potential longterm problem, according to Locke, is that the Supreme Court’s ruling appeared to tie freedom of speech to money. Another case to do so was Citizens United vs. FCE in 2010, which stated it was a violation of the First Amendment to prohibit, or limit the amount of money a corporation could donate to a political campaign.

“[Janus] is the third Supreme Court ruling that we have had that has equated free speech with money,” Locke said. “We haven’t done that in the history of this country. If money is free speech, than the more money you have, the more speech you have.”

In 2017, New York reported the highest rate of wage and salary workers represented by a union at nearly 25 percent. Although there haven’t been many concrete effects stemming from Janus v. AFSCME, Locke didn’t foresee a big dropout in New York’s union rate.