Today, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). This is a lawsuit that will dramatically weaken the voices of working people and unions unless efforts are made to ramp up organizing efforts to recruit new members and retain current members. Janus is challenging the authority of public employee unions to collect mandatory fair share fees that allow the IFO to negotiate fair contracts. Currently, in Minnesota, the law says if you choose not to be a union member, you must still pay your “fair share” for the work the union does to benefit you. These benefits include negotiations for better salaries, benefits and working conditions, and contract administration. None of the fees may be used for political activities of any kind.
There is no doubt that this case is an attempt to take away your freedom to organize and stand up as one united group to make progress on issues important to faculty.
The IFO has already taken action to prepare for the negative impacts of this case. This year, we are seizing the opportunity and have begun the process of recruiting and engaging faculty to a degree never before seen. We will do it the old-fashioned way - the way that works - by taking the time to sit down and talk with faculty, peer-to-peer, one-to-one. We hold the vision of every single state university faculty member feeling welcomed, included, and heard. For more info about this effort please click here.
This lawsuit is being represented by the National Right to Work Foundation and Liberty Justice Center, and bankrolled by the same billionaires and corporate CEOs that passed anti-union legislation in many states including Wisconsin and Iowa with a goal of moving all 50 states towards right-to-work.
This Court is trying to legislate an anti-labor and anti-family agenda by overturning a 40-year-old law. This collective bargaining system has stood since 1977 when the Court unanimously upheld the maintaining of a union shop in a public workplace in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. In Abood, the Court confirmed the constitutionality of “fair share” fees paid to finance the costs of contract administration and negotiation activities of unions that are obligated under state law to represent both union members and non-members.
It is important that IFO members understand what’s at stake in this court case. IFO’s power as a union stems from our members: we are stronger together than apart. If IFO loses members, we lose power. If we can’t stand together, it will be harder to maintain our rights as workers and educators. We must ensure the voices of educators are not weakened so we can continue to fight for what we believe.
Janus v. AFSCME is expected to reach the Supreme Court later this fall or early spring 2018, and a decision is due by the end of next June.