Here’s an interesting twist in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Janus decision, yesterday:
Public-sector workers across the country are seeking to recover back wages they paid to labor organizations in the event the Supreme Court declares mandatory union fees unconstitutional.
Class action suits have been filed against eight unions in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Maryland, California, and the state of Washington, accusing individual unions of violating workers’ rights by collecting mandatory dues payments. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on a groundbreaking case, Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which challenges the constitutionality of forcing public-sector workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. The suits argue that any public-sector employee who participated in forced dues systems should receive financial “redress” from labor organizations.
Let’s stipulate that the number of public-sector employees in this category is probably pretty small in Rhode Island. If not being in a union saves only a little bit of money or none at all because you have to pay an “agency fee” for the work the union does on your behalf anyway, you might as well be a member and get the full benefits, whatever they are. One source puts the number of agency fee paying teachers under the National Education Association of Rhode Island at only 146, for instance. I did some research on this a few years back, and although I can’t find my notes, that sounds about right.
Still, being forced to pay a private organization in order to keep your public-sector job is a sufficiently egregious violation of an employee’s rights that those in this situation should seek a return of the money that was taken away from them unconstitutionally.