Janus v. AFSCME is one of the most important cases the Supreme Court has ever heard. It challenges the power of unions to force payment of union dues. The vast portion of union dues is allocated to the support of union power and the spread of marxist ideology. This is a clear infringement of our rights of free association and free speech. Of course, the usual suspects, Justices Kagan, Breyer, and Sotomayor, are concerned only with the decision’s impact on union power, rather than its impact on our Constitutional rights. Let’s hope the majority of justices come down on the side of the Republic.
As it is, workers in union-heavy industries are typically under incredible pressure to join—in my experience, there are few bullies bigger than the union boss in everyday American life. Yet general union membership continues to crater. Those who resist these efforts are often accused of being “free riders,” because they purportedly benefit from collective bargaining but refuse to pay in. This is an exceptionally peculiar argument coming from organizations for which the central mission, as far as I can tell, is to ensure that the least effective workers are protected at the expense of the most effective workers.
More than that, though, the entire case against Janus not only rests on coercion, but on a debatable, if not dubious, notion. John Doe must join a union, because he already benefits from collective bargaining negotiations, union advocates argue. Does he? Even if we concede that collective bargaining negotiations might raise the average salary of teachers, it may very well depress his salary. It is just as easy to argue that collective bargaining hurts the good teacher. Public-sector unions are not only arguing that workers must join a collective and subvert their individual rights, but that they must accept an ideological contention.
In many states, public-sector unions don’t have collective bargaining rights. Yet, as I write this, every school in all 55 counties of one of those states—West Virginia, where the average teachers’ salary is a bit higher than the average worker’s—are now closed due to an illegal teacher’s strike. Most of those average workers in West Virginia have no choice when it comes to their children’s educations.
Yet nearly every story about this situation focuses on the plight of poor teachers rather than powerless parents. On one hand, we hear that teachers unions are vital to the economy because teachers would make far less in the private sector. In the next breath, we hear them argue that teachers are substantially underpaid compared to what others earn in the private sector. So there’s a simple way to find out how much public-sector employees are worth individually, and that’s breaking the union’s monopoly.
If Americans want to join organizations that undercut initiative and achievement to slide employees into safe, pre-determined slots regardless of ability or work ethic, that’s their business. If they want to break the law and blackmail entire communities who have no choice but to walk away, they should be fired. If they want to force co-workers to pay for their political activities, they should be stopped. And if they claim that most teachers want to willingly participate in union efforts, the only way to find out is by giving those public employees a choice.