Why Non-Members Should Not Have to Pay Union Dues

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Why Non-Members Should Not Have to Pay Union Dues

By Eric Myskowski, Assistant Reporter

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The Supreme Court Case Janus v. Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
This year, the Supreme court is going to decide on a case which could drastically change the power of unions. The case, Janus v. Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), may no longer make non-union members have to pay dues to the union representing the workers of his company. Mark Janus, as a worker at his child support company, is mandated to give a portion of his paycheck to the AFSCME because that is the union in which his co-workers are represented in. Janus is arguing that since he does not support some of the political objectives of the union, his first amendment right of free speech is being violated. Fifty years ago, in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, a similar case, the Supreme Court ruled that indeed Abood had to pay the Detroit teacher union money, even though he was not part of the union. The court ruled that because the union, as a representative of all of the Detroit teachers whether they were part of it or not, needed the non-member dues to offset the fact that the non-union members were still being fought for. They also said that the union’s objectives were not political and therefore his payments do not violate the first amendment. Although, this is a flawed argument for the Janus case. According to the AFSCME website, it is fighting for single-payer healthcare and other democratic-leaning issues. The concept that money does not go to political issues is a fallacy. Even if the Detroit teacher union did not fight for political issues at the time, the AFSCME clearly does and even if Janus’s money goes to non-political parts of the union, it frees up other people’s money to promote the democratic-leaning political opinions. There clearly is no distinction between money going for political reasons and for non-political reasons in the AFSCME. Also, the union does not have to pay more money to represent the non-union workers at the workplace because it is fighting for goals for everyone, not individual people. The precedent of Abood only applies narrowly to that specific situation and not for all unions. This is why stare decisis, the concept that precedent can stand even if wrong, does not apply to Abood because Abood is not precedent for this case. Ruling in favor of Janus would not disrupt the relationships between workers, unions and companies, but actually improve them by leading to free speech and the union listening to all workers. If the union were to not, it would lose members and therefore money and power.

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