Learn more about Janus

Supreme Court

Mark Janus v. the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees was a case before the U.S. Supreme Court that seeks to starve public-sector unions of the funding they need to provide services to members. On June 27, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against labor unions.

Read the court's majority opinion (written by Justice Samuel Alito) »

Read the dissenting opinion (written by Justice Elena Kagan) »

Under current law, public employees covered by union contracts can opt out of paying for the political activities of their unions. In fact, people can choose not to join the union at all. But because unions do so much more than political work, including negotiating contracts for pay raises, benefits, job protections and more that benefit all workers, states may pass collective bargaining laws that require all public employees at unionized workplaces to contribute their fair share toward those costs. Those who choose not to join the union must pay so-called “agency fees.”

The Janus case threatens this 40-year-old legal precedent. A ruling barring the collection of agency fees is the culmination of a decades-long, coordinated campaign by conservative groups to debilitate unions, one of the few remaining strong advocates for workers in the political arena.

Read a Q&A on the issues »

The ruling

Supreme Court ruling delivers a sharp blow to labor unions New York Times, June 27, 2018

The ruling means that public-sector unions across the nation, already under political pressure, could lose tens of millions of dollars and see their effectiveness diminished.

The Supreme Court's Janus decision one battle in an ongoing fight unions will win New York Daily News, June 27, 2018

As part of our Union Proud campaign, UFT reps have knocked on tens of thousands of member doors and reached out before and after school to have conversations about the importance of union membership and collective action.

With Janus ruling, Supreme Court seals a 40-year campaign to eviscerate worker rights L.A. Times, June 27, 2018

it’s proper to note that the Supreme Court’s engagement with worker rights has a very long history, and more often than not it has been on the wrong side.

Janus is here — but don't ring the death knell for the labor movement In These Times, June 27, 2018

This decision will directly and indirectly impact how unions are structured, how they engage with their members and objectors, how they organize and educate and how they are funded. But this decision will not destroy, defund or decimate labor.

Janus was decided by conservative judicial activists who are legislating from the bench The Nation, June 27, 2018

By abandoning a 41-year-old precedent that permitted public-sector unions to levy fair-share fees on workers whose interests the unions have long represented, the Court takes aim at the treasuries of unions that need resources to engage in collective bargaining and to assure that public services are not threatened by cuts in funding and privatization schemes.

Background on the case and its implications for UFT members

How this Supreme Court case could impact workers' wages CNN Money, Feb. 26, 2018

Economists have linked the decline of unions to wage stagnation and rising inequality, as workers lose the bargaining power to demand better pay.

Supreme Court hears fiery arguments in case that could gut public sector unions NPR, Feb. 26, 2018

A sharply divided court could be poised to overturn a 40-year-old Supreme Court decision that would further undermine an already shrinking union movement.

Supreme Court Janus case is bigger than unions. Upward mobility is at stake USA Today, Feb. 26, 2018

The court's decision won’t just affect government employees. Unions help boost equality and build our nation’s middle class.

This Supreme Court Case Could Deliver a Major Blow to Public-Service Unions Mother Jones, Feb. 23, 2018

On Feb. 26, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME, a case that boils down to the question of whether public-sector unions have a right to collect dues from workers they bargain on behalf of, even if they are not union members. If the court’s conservative majority rules in the plaintff’s favor, it could choke off a critical source of union funding.

NYC teachers union braces for Supreme Court ruling that could drain money and members Chalkbeat, Feb. 22, 2018

If the court rules that teachers are not required to pay for its services, the union is likely to shed members and money — a war chest that has allowed the UFT to be a major player in New York politics and to secure robust benefits for its members. “This is dangerous stuff we’re getting into now,” Mulgrew told Chalkbeat. “They’re trying to take away people’s ability to come together, to stand up and have a voice.”

Union fees at risk as justices review Detroit precedent The Detroit News, Feb. 22, 2018

The court challenge endangers tens of thousands of union contracts in nearly half of the states that are organized around the framework established in Abood. Tossing it would impose a nationwide “right-to-work” policy across the public sector, which employs roughly half of the nation’s 14.8 million union workers.

Will the Supreme Court Deal Public-Sector Unionism a Death Blow? The Nation, Feb. 23, 2018

While anti-labor libertarians will argue that all union activity is inherently “political activism,” unions maintain, with 40 years of evidence to back them up, that agency fees simply help them carry out critical duties as workers’ representatives, and that all who benefit have a responsibility to pay.

Supreme Court's conservatives appear set to strike down union fees on free-speech grounds Los Angeles Times, Feb. 8, 2018

Conservatives also believe the attack on mandatory union fees has the potential to weaken the public sector unions that are strong supporters of the Democratic Party.

Trump administration opposes unions in key Supreme Court case Politico, Dec. 6, 2017

For the Trump administration, the court brief is the latest in a series of moves to roll back union power.

12 Things You Should Know About Janus vs. AFSCME Inside Sources, Oct. 19, 2017

Janus v. AFSCME could become one of the most influential labor-related lawsuits in the country’s history. It touches upon fundamental federal laws that have shaped how Americans have worked throughout modern history.

Unions will face a tough challenge when the Supreme Court says 'yes!' to freeloaders Chicago Tribune, Oct. 5, 2017

But whatever nomenclature you prefer and whatever reason workers have for not contributing — ideological conviction or thrift — those who accept the benefits of organized labor but don’t chip in to earn and maintain them are parasites.

The conservative donors behind Janus

Behind a Key Anti-Labor Case, a Web of Conservative Donors New York Times, Feb. 25, 2018

Conservative donors have created a symbiosis between groups aiming to overturn Supreme Court precedent favorable to unions and groups that take advantage of those rulings to drain unions of members.

Janus and fair share fees: The organizations financing the attack on unions’ ability to represent workers Economic Policy Institute, Feb. 21, 2018

Janus and the two fair share cases that preceded it did not grow from an organic, grassroots challenge to union representation. Rather, the fair share cases are being financed by a small group of foundations with ties to the largest and most powerful corporate lobbies.

What happens when unions grow weak

The cruel war on teachers' unions Daily News, Feb. 26, 2018

Groups like this are threatened by the fact that unions give workers the ability to come together to protect their interests and the interests of working people everywhere, to insist on a livable wage and financial security.

Here's what happened to teachers after Wisconsin gutted its unions CNN Money, Nov. 17, 2017

Along with diminished leverage with school boards, teachers have seen lower pay, reduced pension and health insurance benefits and higher turnover as educators hop from one district to another in search of raises, a new report finds.

'I hope I can quit working in a few years': A preview of the U.S. without pensions Washington Post, Dec. 23, 2017

The way major U.S. companies provide for retiring workers has been shifting for about three decades, with more dropping traditional pensions every year. The first full generation of workers to retire since this turn offers a sobering preview of a labor force more and more dependent on their own savings for retirement.

Janus arguments

Read a transcript of the oral arguments before the Supreme Court »

Listen to an audio file of the arguments »

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