Former Vermont AFL-CIO President Ben Johnson is cheering a case before the U.S. Supreme Court that could devastate public sector union membership.
A Supreme Court decision on Janus v. AFSCME, which questions the Constitutionality of compulsory dues, could cut deeply into the revenue of public sector unions by reversing a decades-old SCOTUS ruling. Currently, federal law treats non-union, public sector workers as free-riders benefiting from union negotiated contracts.
“The business model is: You win one election, collect the money, and your cash flow stays rock-solid because nothing is forcing me to do what members want me to do,” Johnson told The Washington Free Beacon. “Frankly, we deserve better than the labor organizations we’ve been given.”
Illinois healthcare worker Mark Janus, of Janus v. AFSCME, hopes to overturn the 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. Janus argues that compulsory dues paid to public sector unions violate his free speech rights by forcing him to fund an organization’s political bargaining.
Requiring workers to pay dues whether or not they are members of the union takes away any incentive for unions to improve and listen to their members, according to Johnson.
“With mandatory dues, how could that not change how leadership relates to members?” Johnson said. “It probably leads to delusional thinking … unions don’t have to deal with the fact that members may revolt. You’re insulated from that.”
Supporters of unions in the Janus case argue that taking the mandatory dues away would weaken unions and harm workers, as unions would be less able to negotiate favorable contracts.