Four years later: Why the Janus decision still matters

Four years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Janus v. AFSCME decision (June 27, 2018) freed millions of public employees across the country from being forced to subsidize government unions’ political agendas in order to keep their job.

American Experiment’s Catrin Wigfall speaking on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court during oral argument in Janus v. AFSCME on February 26, 2018.

Since then, American Experiment has been helping Minnesotans exercise their right to say no to financially supporting public-sector unions. Employee Freedom MN and Educated Teachers MN provide information, resources, and support for public employees who decide that union membership is not the best decision for them and their families. The power to say “no” to union membership is just as important as being able to say “yes” to it.

The Janus decision continues to hold importance these years later. Pressure on unions to abide by Janus must continue, as not all unions inform their members or new hires they don’t have to financially support a union as a condition of employment.

That is why efforts like American Experiment’s are needed and valued. Through a partnership with the Upper Midwest Law Center, the union doesn’t get to get away with forging Todd’s signature on a membership form, or denying Gloria’s resignation during the union-enforced opt-out “window,” or skimming dues from Kris as she cares for her daughter.

Janus put the importance of worker freedom center stage, but it only resolved part of the problem. It’s up to our state lawmakers to take the next step and reform labor laws with common sense policies that benefit our hard-working government employees.


Recapping significance of Janus

“My testimony [in support of Janus] has nothing to do with the elimination of unions. I support Janus because I want the freedom of choice of paying union dues. Employees deserve this choice. This ruling could actually force unions to provide real value for their services. Unions would need to prove their worth and listen to their members’ concerns. How could that possibly be a bad thing for any worker?”

—Aaron Benner, educator
(February 26, 2018. On the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building during the oral argument in Janus v. AFSCME)

“While people scream from the rooftops about how wrong and unfair the Janus ruling is, let’s pause for a moment and at least acknowledge that, in the context of the teachers’ unions, almost no one is even talking about what’s best for kids in any of their passion filled proclamations about the destruction of the middle class. And if the well-being of children—who are mandated by law to attend school—isn’t front and center, I don’t want to hear the wailing.”

—Erika Sanzi, former educator and union member
(June 28, 2018. EdExcellence)

“This [the Janus decision] is a great day for education—for children, for families, for the teaching profession. We’re finally free; free to stand together, empower our profession and uplift our schools. Educators have been given a gift—the freedom to reject state and national unions. I hope teachers will opt out in large number…and reorganize into local only associations. That would lead to real education reform.”

—Rebecca Friedrichs, educator
(July 2, 2018. Choice Media)

Janus is a big step forward for freedom of speech. It gives teachers like me the opportunity to make choices that are best for us, our families, and our students. Taking the time to make good choices gives educators the chance to make their voices heard and tell the union to focus on what teachers need in the classroom, not politics.”

—Linda Hoekman, high school science teacher
(July 3, 2018. Interview with Educated Teachers MN)

“I’m not anti-union and neither was my case [Janus v. AFSCME]. I don’t begrudge anyone who wants to form a union, or be part of a union. But what was unfair and unconstitutional is forcing me—and millions of other American workers—to pay to advance policies we oppose just so we could serve our communities and our state. The Supreme Court was right to end this practice—and I am honored to spend the next part of my career working to defend workers’ rights…”

—Mark Janus, plaintiff in Janus v. AFSCME
(July 2018. Stand With Workers)