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 provided a path to the middle class. Under the unanimous Supreme Court precedent of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, no one can be forced to join a union or to pay for political activities. But in New York and many states, workers can be required to pay fees if a union represents them in collective bargaining.
A ruling against AFSCME would overturn Abood, essentially making the entire public sector a “right-to-work” zone ― meaning employees could be exempt from contributing to unions that fight on their behalf. Siding with Janus means public employee unions all across America could lose members, dues and the crucial bargaining power that has protected so many American workers.