Janus and fair share fees: The organizations financing the attack on unions’ ability to represent workers

February 21, 2018

Economic Policy Institute

Celine McNicholas, Zane Mokhiber, and Marni von Wilpert

Over the last decade, a number of cases attacking the rights of public-sector union members have been quietly working their way through the courts and, finally, up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The most recent of these challenges is Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, which the U.S. Supreme Court will hear on February 26. If the court rules for Janus, it will likely have the most significant impact on workers’ freedom to organize and bargain collectively in 70 years.

Janus is the third case to come before the Supreme Court in five years involving public-sector unions’ ability to collect “fair share” (or “agency”) fees. As this report will show, Janus, and the two fair share cases that preceded it, did not grow from an organic, grassroots challenge to union representation. Rather, the fair share cases are being financed by a small group of foundations with ties to the largest and most powerful corporate lobbies. These organizations and the policymakers they support have succeeded in advancing a policy agenda that weakens the bargaining power of workers. In Janus, these interests have focused their attack on public-sector workers—the workforce with the highest union density.

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Record Online

Gareth Rhodes

On Feb. 26, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Janus v. AFSCME. The ruling in Janus could affect nearly five million union workers and has the potential to be one of the most profoundly anti-union judicial decisions in the past half-century. For more than 100 years, union labor has...

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