Unions Attempting to Circumvent the Janus Ruling

unionThe landmark ruling by the US Supreme Court in the Janus vs AFSCME case has given government workers the right to not only refuse union membership, but to refuse to pay any dues or fees to that union. In the wake of this ruling, new lawsuits have been filed on behalf of plaintiffs who allege the unions are attempting to circumvent the Janus ruling.

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Enforcing Provisions of the Janus Ruling

A notable example of such a case is Few vs UTLA, In this case, the plaintiff, Thomas Few, is a special education teacher in Los Angeles. Few was told that he could end his membership in the United Teachers of Los Angeles union. But even as a nonmember, the union told him that he would still have to pay an annual “service fee” equivalent to his union membership dues. Few’s position, which is likely to be upheld, is that he cannot be compelled to pay anything to a union he does not choose to join, regardless of what the payment is called.

This lawsuit and others are likely to ensure that the Janus ruling is enforced. The practical result will be that government unions lose some of their members, and some of their revenue. But how many? After all, there is a valid economic incentive for public employees to belong to their unions. In California, unionized state and local workers earn pay and benefits that average twice what private sector workers earn.

For this reason, most people refusing union membership will be doing so for ideological reasons. They will find their objections to the political agenda of these unions to be more compelling than the economic reasons to support them. But there are additional ways the unions compel public employees to remain members.

For example, in some cases, within the same bargaining unit, unions will negotiate pay and benefit packages for their members that are more favorable than the pay and benefit packages they negotiate for the non-members. In some cases in academia, only union members are permitted to sit on faculty committees that determine curricula and hiring decisions.

Challenging Exclusive Representation

This right to exclusive representation is the next major target of public sector union reformers. They argue that it is unconstitutional for public sector unions – whose activity the Janus ruling verified is inherently political – to advocate on behalf of non-members, or to represent non-members, or to exclude non-members from participating in votes or discussions on policy, or to deny non-members the same negotiated rates of pay and benefits as members, or, possibly, all of the above.

Just filed this week in the US Supreme Court is the case Uradnik vs IFO, which worked its way through the lower courts in under a year. It is possible it will be heard in the 2019 session. This case calls for an immediate end to laws that force public-sector employees to accept a union’s exclusive representation.

Kathleen Uradnik, a professor of political science at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, alleges that her union (“IFO” or Inter Faculty Organization) “created a system that discriminates against non-union faculty members by barring them from serving on any faculty search, service, or governance committee, and even bars them from joining the Faculty Senate. This second-class treatment of non-union faculty members impairs the ability of non-members to obtain tenure, to advance in their careers, and to participate in the academic life and governance of their institutions.”

There is a strong possibility that within a few years, if not much sooner, this case will be heard and ruled on by the US Supreme Court in favor of the plaintiff. If so, the future of public sector unions will be altered in ways even more significant than Janus. Unions will be prohibited from discriminating in any way against non-members who are part of their bargaining unit. They also will be powerless to stop public employees from withdrawing completely from their bargaining unit to – gasp – represent themselves in salary and benefit negotiations, something that professionals in the private sector have always done.

The Impact of Non-Exclusive Representation

An impact of a favorable Uradnik vs IFO ruling that would have even greater consequences would be if it enabled the emergence of competing unions. What if two or more unions represented a bargaining group? What if a super-union emerged whose membership welcomed government workers from an entire state, or entire profession, or the entire nation. What if these super-unions embraced a political agenda that ran counter to the left-wing agenda that has dominated public sector unions for decades?

The possibilities are tantalizing.

What if faculty members in America’s colleges and universities had the option to join a conservative union with a national membership that advocated a return to pro-Western college instruction, an end to reverse discrimination, a restoration of academic merit as the sole criteria for admission and graduation, and the abolition of divisive courses of study that offer no useful skills? What if conservative faculty members who have been silent all these years had the power of a national union to protect them from the Left?

What if K-12 teachers across America had a national union to protect them when they objected to curricula designed to turn immigrant children against the people and traditions of their host culture? What if police and firefighters across America had a national union that advocated unequivocally for a merit-based system of immigration? What if civil engineers across America had a national union that was implacably opposed to the environmentalist extremism that has doubled the cost of infrastructure projects and quadrupled the time it takes to complete them?

Enforcing Janus will begin to undermine public sector union power, which is deployed almost exclusively in the service of the Left. Enforcing Uradnik may actually create a balance of power between public sector unions that lean Left vs Right, and that, in turn, would represent a seismic shift in the political landscape of America. At the least, it would neutralize the tremendous boost that public sector unions have given the political Left in America. At most, it might create a hitherto unthinkable consensus in America that public sector unions are indeed inherently political, and have far too much political influence, and must be subject to draconian restrictions including losing the right to collectively bargain, if not complete abolition.


  1. Unions only benifit the lazy and incompetent employee

  2. First, foremost, and bottom line!
    Public Employee Unions are inherently illegal because of ethics!
    When you work for the Taxpayer it would be unethical to fund the election of anyone who might use taxpayer revenue to compensate your support.
    Yet it happens every election cycle. Most damaging in California!

    This proof can be seen in the Prison industry where they held Gov Brown hostage to support their unionization and subsequent salary and benefit hike.

    Also, look to the Teachers Union where dramatic increases in salaries and benefits occur because of support provided those elected.

    And then there is the SEIU an overall thief of the taxpayers revenue for their own benefit of increased salaries, protection of jobs, and excessive retirement benefits.

    These salaries, benefits, and other privileges far exceed private industry. The unsustainable debt California carries is due to these unethical, illegal unions!

    Bottom line is that they truly are unethical. Because of their relationship with the elected, you will never see, in California, a correction of this illegal behavior.

    Your best solution as a Citizen of California is to move!

    • SHANE CONWAY says

      As a retired Orange County deputy sheriff, I agree with you 100%. Unfortunately for me, the Janus decision came after I retired and moved out of California. But the sheriffs’ association continues to take money from me and my wife. One of the “perks” of retiring from Orange County is a subsidized medical plan. The way it works is simple: I left California, so I only have one plan to choose from. The association takes over $23,000 from my annual pay. Our medical costs us over $2,ooo/mo. How much of that money is really going towards medical insurance? Unions are like malignant tumors. They take their toll on you and they are nearly impossible to cure. Oh, by the way, the SEIU is a subsidiary of the Communist Party. (That’s a FACT!)

  3. Of course they are going to fight it along with their politicians reaping the benefits. The Protection Racket is a real money maker for everyone except the duped peon. (fed up nailed it)

  4. Why can’t a teacher just walk into the district office and direct the business office to stop the payments to the union, post Janus?

    Because the districts and management have a business interest in the union remaining powerful! That’s right, the appearance of labor v.s. management, administration v.s. teacher, is all a sideshow. Union power extracts money from the government which benefits non-teachers as well. If you don’t believe me, go to Transparent California and search for the names of the top superintendents in the state and see what they are making.

    The Janus decision took effect the day after it was decided and teachers were required to opt-in if they wanted to stay in the union. But nothing changed and there was no purging of the memberships with an enrollment period for those who wished to remain.

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