Opinion: It’s the anniversary of a decision that sought to protect workers’ free-speech rights

Elizabeth Hovde, of the Washington Policy Center, reflects on the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Janus vs. American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees case

This opinion piece was produced and first published by the Washington Policy Center. It is published here with the permission of and full attribution to the Washington Policy Center. 

Elizabeth Hovde
Washington Policy Center

Elizabeth Hovde
Elizabeth Hovde

Three years ago, public employees were treated right by the U.S. Supreme Court: It decided in Janus vs. the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees to uphold workers’ First Amendment rights.

The ruling that favored Mark Janus meant that government employees everywhere would no longer be forced to join a union or pay union dues or fees as a condition of their employment. That was refreshing for teachers and other public employees in Washington. Before Janus, they had to give part of their paychecks to a union that often supported causes with which they disagreed. Imagine paying for materials that arrived in your mailbox and told you how wrong you were about issues x, y and z.

The Janus decision was refreshing to taxpayers, too, as their tax dollars employ government employees. Many of us didn’t agree with how they were being treated and their free-speech rights disregarded. Unions don’t only concern themselves with labor issues, they engage in political activity. The Janus ruling gives individuals the right to make a choice that aligns with their personal beliefs.

Public unions have fought for laws and employment practices to help them get around the money loss that allowing employees to opt out of the union brings. While employment can automatically opt an individual into union membership, for example, the onus is on the employee to ask human resources how to opt out. Workplaces also can set up hurdles, such as allowing only certain times to opt out of a union.

We’ll keep up our messaging to help public employees learn about their Janus rights. Workers can also learn more at optouttoday.com. The third anniversary of the Janus decision would be an excellent time to do so.

Elizabeth Hovde is a contributing writer at the Washington Policy Center.

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Jack Burton
Jack Burton
1 year ago

She fails to mention the most used aspect of Janus. People that want collective bargaining wages and benefits but don’t want to pay for them. All you have to do to enjoy bargained for maternity/paternity leave, overtime pay, and salary for free is yell “critical race theory” (or abortion, guns, or anything relating to the LGBTQ community) from the rooftops. And they say conservatives are against handouts. 🙂

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