In deciding that mandatory union dues are an unconstitutional condition of public employment, the Supreme Court of the United States liberated thousands of government employees nationwide from forced membership in public-sector unions. Accordingly, unions will lose members, dues and political clout.
Only the unions, union-owned politicians and Democrats are upset. Because union demands conflict with the interests of taxpayers, consumers and other workers, a majority of Americans dislike them.
Decided on the First Amendment constitutional rights of public employees, the Court’s June, 2018 Janus v. AFSCME ruling has a chance to improve Pennsylvania’s financial prospects.
Pennsylvania is functionally, albeit unofficially, bankrupt. Local governments, school districts and the Commonwealth have been impoverished, partially because public-sector unions such as PSEA, AFSCME, SEIU and others pour millions of dues-payers’ dollars – graft — into the campaigns of politicians who pass and preserve union-friendly laws and who approve public-sector union members’ pay and benefits. Soaring labor and pension costs crowd out expenditures on infrastructure, public safety and other necessities.
Ironically, Democratic icon and industrial labor ally President Franklin Roosevelt described public-sector unions as “unthinkable and intolerable.”
“The process of collective bargaining…cannot be transplanted to public service,” Roosevelt said. “A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to obstruct or prevent the operations of government until their demands are satisfied.”
In 1955, labor giant George Meany, then president of the AFL-CIO, said, “It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government.” And in 1959, the AFL-CIO Executive Council issued this statement: “In terms of accepted collective bargaining procedures, government workers have no right beyond the authority to petition [a legislature] — a right available to every citizen.”
But, in 1959, states began to allow collective bargaining in government. Today, public-sector unions are woven into the Democratic Party’s fabric. Democratic campaigns count on union money and manpower. In return, elected officials reward unions with increases in member pay, benefits and head count.
Public-sector unions gave now-Governor Tom Wolf’s first campaign more than $3 million in direct and millions more in indirect and in-kind contributions. Wolf supports tax increases to indulge them.
Democrats’ post-Janus hyperbole is entertaining. Complaints that the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision somehow denies teachers a voice or defunds and destroys unions are ridiculous.
Janus didn’t deny unions the rights to organize, bargain, strike or collect dues from agreeable members. The decision only ended their ability to forcibly extract dues from individuals who disagree with union politics.
Unions weren’t outlawed, but, like businesses, they will be forced to earn “market” support from willing members who agree with them politically or can be convinced of their current and continuing intrinsic value.
How governments spend taxpayers’ money should be decided by elected representatives who are directly responsible to all constituents rather than just union paymasters. The Supreme Court decision will weaken unions’ asymmetric political influence and may reestablish Pennsylvania voters’ control over government budgets and policy.
Janus v. AFSCME is a positive step for the nation — and for Pennsylvania.