Supreme Court fight over forced public union dues

A case before the Supreme Court Monday could have major implications for American workers, including many here in our area.

The essence of Janus v. AFSCME is this: a government employee named Mark Janus doesn't want to pay money to a union he disagrees with politically.

But, because he's covered under a collective bargaining agreement made by that union, he's forced to pay dues. 

"This is about workers being free to choose," said Bob Dick, a senior policy analyst for the Commonwealth Foundation, a free market think tank.

He believes it's immoral to demand that Janus give his money to a public union.

"When they're bargaining with government, it is an inherently political activity. And to force Mark Janus and others to fund this inherently political activity is wrong," he said. 

Jerry Green, the president of United Steelworkers Local 2599 in Bethlehem, sees it differently.

"Probably their goal is to eventually get rid of the unions," Green told WFMZ. "My fear is this: down the road they're gonna come attacking the private sector."

If the ruling goes against the unions, Green has concerns about what it would do to his membership.

To put it in perspective, in the 1950s they had about 30,000 members. That's down to 1,200.

"Let's face it, not everybody wants to be in the union," he said. "There's gonna be folks in these respective units that are gonna say 'the union doesn't work for me'."

Supporters of Janus are unsympathetic to that argument.  

"Well here's the problem. If your business model requires forcing people to prop up your entire union, then you have a bad business model," said Dick. 

Green also argues, whether they like it or not, Janus and others benefit from what unions do for them, and still will even if they don't pay dues.

Therefore, according to Green, they should have to pay.

"It's called collective bargaining. If we're in it, we're all in it together," he said. 

Dick is also not persuaded by that point.  

"This really is a problem of their own making," he said. "Because what they say is 'we want exclusive representation, we want to represent everyone, we don't want to give a choice to the public worker.'"

The ruling is expected later this year.

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