The Supreme Court on Monday will hear oral arguments in the Janus case, which could end the practice of forcing workers who do not want to join unions and perhaps don't support the union's political agenda to pay union dues.
Erin Hawley had written an excellent IWF legal brief explaining how it came about that employees can be forced to subsidize union political activity with which they do not agree and outlining the issues involved.
Meanwhile, this morning the Wall Street Journal looks into how unions use their vast wealth to engage in politics in an article headlined "Mark Janus Was With Hillary–Whether or Not He Wanted to Be." It starts with a description of a massive 2016 Hillary Clinton rally in Las Vegas that was put on by public sector unions.
Mark Janus, an Illinois resident, is one of the 500,000 employees nationwide who object to paying dues to a union they do not want to join. These workers see being forced to pay dues, a portion of which goes for specifically political activity, as a violation of our First Amendment right to free speech. Here are some of the activities coerced dues go for:
Other unions that held pro-Clinton rallies include the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the Service Employees International Union, which represents about one million public workers. The SEIU convention passed a resolution that the union will “elect Hillary Clinton” as president “by mobilizing millions of voters.” Unions and state governments maintain that nonmembers can be charged for these conventions because they are where the unions adopt bargaining strategies and representational policies.
Afscme used its convention to weigh in on practically every major political issue. One resolution condemned Senate Republicans and demanded hearings and a vote on Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Others addressed funding for public infrastructure, educational spending, paid family and sick leave, private contracting of government services, the minimum wage, and “right to work” laws, with each resolution taking the expected union position.
More surprising were resolutions with no obvious connection to union interests—demanding gun-control laws, statehood for the District of Columbia, marijuana legalization, “comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship,” “racial justice” and an end to state laws that protect religious freedom. Whatever Mr. Janus’s positions on these issues, he was forced to fund Afscme’s advocacy on them.
The American Federation of Teachers has charged nonmembers for advocacy supporting public funding for Planned Parenthood, the “climate justice movement” and a constitutional amendment to restrict political speech by overturning Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission—which, ironically, protects union as well as corporate speech.
But the National Education Association takes the cake. Its current resolutions stake out positions on topics from the adoption of constitutional amendments through the convention process of the Constitution’s Article V (NEA is opposed), to American participation in the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court (thumbs up), to “covert operations and counterintelligence activities,” along with the “self-determination of indigenous people.” The NEA has spent objectors’ money on advocacy in favor of racial preferences, comprehensive sex education, restoration of voting rights for felons, and adoption of the metric system by the U.S.
Yes, the metric system.
The article is by David B. Rivlin and Andrew M. Grossman, two constitutional and appellate lawyers in Washington, D.C.. Grossman filed a brief in support of Mark Manus on behalf of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.