The decision in Janus v. AFSCME -- What is means for workers

The Janus case was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 27, 2018. Check out our frequently asked questions at the link below:

Frequently Asked Question about Janus

About 'Right-to-Work' and the Janus Case

Forty years ago, in a case called Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public sector employees are not required to join a union, but when they accept a union job and chose to opt-out of being a member, they are charged a fee for the union’s efforts to negotiate the salary, benefits, and other contract-related items from which they benefit. In essence, these individuals are required to pay their fair share for core union services, and came to be known as “fair share payers.”  

In 2018, the Supreme Court heard a case called Janus v. AFSCME, which challenged this previous ruling. In their ruling, the Court decided that employees are not obligated to pay any portion of dues, even though they are still covered by the contract and are entitled to union services. This is a victory in the decades-long attack by conservative groups – often coined ‘Right-to-Work’ -- aimed at weakening public sector employees and unions, which, in turn leads to lower wages, health benefits, higher workplace death, etc...

Prior to the ruling, 28 states had 'Right-to-Work' laws, which prohibit the union security agreements that allow unions to collect dues from employees in unionized jobs for contract negotiation and representation services. The Janus case has made 'Right-to-Work' a nationwide law in the public sector.

What does this mean for workers and unions?

  • Membership and dues payments are voluntary in a Right-to-Work environment.
  • Employees don’t have to pay for the union services they receive even if their position is represented by a union.
  • Unions still have a legal obligation to represent all members, regardless of whether they pay union dues.
  • Union services, funded by contributing employees, will be utilized by non-paying employees.
  • Unions will have less resources to provide services, negotiate contacts and enforce them.

What happens to the workplace in 'Right-to-Work' states?

  • Decrease in wages
  • Increase in workplace injuries
  • Increase in health care costs
  • Decrease in access to retirement plans

Below are some resources to learn more about 'Right-to-Work:'

Background info on 'Right-to-Work' from LiUNA
FAQs about fair-share from AFL-CIO

'How Business Unionism got us to Janus'

'Court tees up right-wing assault on unions'

'If a worker pays no dues, why get union benefits?'

Watch this video from Robert Reich, economist and former Secretary of Labor, to better understand how Right-to-Work laws threaten your contract, workplace, and community.