AFSCME’s “Talking Points” Misconstrue Purpose of Janus Case

In exactly one week, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a landmark case that could possibly end mandatory union dues—Janus v. AFSCME.

A win for Mark Janus, the plaintiff, would restore a public sector employee’s right to choose for him or herself whether to give money to a union. But government unions are opposed to a pro-plaintiff ruling because they claim it “threatens public workers.” AFSCME Minnesota provided its members with a list of “talking points” that misconstrue the case and what it stands for. I will detail some of these points out below.

(First, though, the only things this case “threatens” are government union revenues and influence.)

AFSCME’s “Talking Points” on Janus

“Supreme Court Case Threatens Public Workers” 

This case is a purely political scheme to further rig the economy against working people by striking down the freedom of working people to come together in strong unions.

Hmm. This claim is particularly head-scratching because any government employee that wants to be part of a union can still do so under a Janus win. That’s the beauty of this case—it restores employee freedom, it does not strike it down. If you feel the union best represents you and serves your needs, maintain your union representation. If you would rather focus on your career in public service without being forced to pay money to highly political government unions, you can have that freedom of choice, as well.

Unions have played a critical role in building and protecting the working class in America. They help hardworking people build a good life.

Mark Janus’s goal is not to strip anyone of their right to support or belong to a union. But he does feel it is time to restore all government employees’ rights to free speech and freedom of association—rights that have been denied for 40 years.

Government unions have become unaware of the diverse workforce in the public sector and the unique desires and needs of individual workers. Not all hardworking people feel their union is looking out for their best interests. A ruling in favor of Mark would put an end to union complacency and hold government unions more accountable to serving the needs and concerns of their members.

The corporate interests behind this case simply do not believe that working people should have the same rights CEOS have: the freedom to negotiate a fair return on our work so we can provide for ourselves and our families.

Again, the right to belong to or support a union will not magically disappear if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Mark Janus in June. This case is about restoring the rights of the individual, the dissenter, the minority, the little guy—not maintaining the status quo that benefits a privileged political class.

If Janus passes, public sector unions will need to woo support from their members and focus on what’s best for those members, not just what’s best for union executives.

Closing Thoughts

Compelled speech violates the individual freedoms this nation was built on. Mark Janus wants to restore the most fundamental values to all government workers. The assumptions of AFSCME regarding Janus exemplify the real issue unions do not want to acknowledge–their use of political connections and clout have trapped government employees in a system to which not all want to belong. Public sector unions tout “freedom of working people” yet force public sector employees to join or otherwise financially support their workplace’s union as a condition of employment. But freedom is not forced and it is not one-sided. The freedom to say no to a union is just as important as the freedom to say yes to one.