Will Janus Decision Mean Payback Time for Workers?

The recent Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME means that government employee unions can no longer confiscate money from non-members and use it to fund causes those workers do not support. A current court proceeding gives some sense of how much money the government unions have been grabbing. 

The National Right to Work Foundation is demanding that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000 in California return approximately $100 million to about 40,000 current and former state workers who paid more than necessary because of the SEIU’s difficult “opt-out” procedures. During a similar lawsuit in 2013, SEIU members were paying up to $90 a month in dues, and state law required nonmembers to pay 65 to 70 percent of full dues. That translates into tens of millions of dollars for a government employee union that parades outside the state capitol chanting “This is Our House!” So by the admission of SEIU bosses, they used the money they took from nonmembers to buy politicians. Now those workers want it back, to spend as they see fit, but the old-line establishment media don’t see it that way.

“Anti-labor group wants California union to hand $100 million back to state workers,” reads the July 19 Sacramento Bee headline, a reference to the National Right to Work Foundation. 

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, government employee unions represent only 34.4 percent of government workers. So 65.6 of government workers, a strong majority of nearly two-thirds, are not union members. Overall, according to the BLS, only 10.7 percent of U.S. wage and salary workers are union members. So a full 89.3 percent of workers, the vast majority, are not union members. So the equation of unions with “labor” is all wrong and the NRWF is effectively more pro-labor than the SEIU.  

Workers have a right to work for government and maintain their independence. Government employee unions can no longer confiscate money from those independent workers. The courts will decide how much of their money the workers get back. 

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K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at The Daily Caller.

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