Opinion: Thousands of Washington employees no longer forced to pay unions to keep their jobs

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center shares that in an era in which people are losing their livelihoods because of government mandates, it’s encouraging to remember the U.S. Supreme Court stood up for workers in this way.

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center shares that in an era in which people are losing their livelihoods because of government mandates, it’s encouraging to remember the U.S. Supreme Court stood up for workers in this way

Elizabeth Hovde
Washington Policy Center

Public employees in Washington state, and the rest of the nation, are no longer required to pay dues to a union just to keep their jobs. That wasn’t always the case, but thanks to a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that stood up for workers’ rights, compulsory unionism in public employment is a thing of the past.

Elizabeth Hovde
Elizabeth Hovde

In an era in which people are losing their livelihoods because of government mandates, it’s encouraging to remember the court stood up for workers in this way.

In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that non-union government workers do not have to pay union fees as a condition of employment. It was a major victory for First Amendment rights that many public workers have since exercised, benefitting more than 5 million public school teachers, first responders and other government workers across the country.

The Freedom Foundation, a leader in gaining this legal victory for workers, reports that the week of Nov. 10 represented a milestone. The Foundation assisted its 100,000th public employee in opting out of forced union membership. Of those, a large portion — 27,120 — lives in Washington state. (Read Freedom Foundation’s press release about hitting that mark here, and see an interactive map and Washington state’s stat here.)

Washington Policy Center has an ongoing public information campaign leading public workers to optoutoday.com, an essential Freedom Foundation tool created to assist workers who want to keep more of their paychecks and who don’t want to pay for various union political agendas.

This milestone is a big one for Washington workers. As the Supreme Court staff summarized the Janus decision: “The First Amendment is violated when money is taken from nonconsenting employees for a public-sector union; employees must choose to support the union before anything is taken from them. Accordingly, neither an agency fee nor any other form of payment to a public-sector union may be deducted from an employee, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay.”

Elizabeth Hovde is the director of the Center for Health Care and the Center for Worker Rights. She is a resident of Clark County.

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Edward
Edward
10 months ago

If unions are a good thing for people … you’d think they would have been voluntary all along. Now … the unions will have to perform for the members or go out of business.
😁

Ann Nelson
Ann Nelson
5 months ago

This slanted piece ignores the long history of right-wing union busting, which you are continuing by failing to present the truth about what you stand for, which is not workers.

For one, you ought to reveal your right-wing think tank associations. From SourceWatch:
“The Washington Policy Center (WPC) is, in its own words, “a nonpartisan, free-market, state-based think tank in Seattle, Washington, that publishes studies, sponsors events and conferences, and educates citizens on public policy issues facing Washington state.”[1] In actuality the group advances a right wing agenda and is affiliated with organizations in the Koch Network.
WPC is organized as 501(c)3 non profit and was founded in 1997. The right wing “think tank” is listed as an affiliate member of the State Policy Network (SPN).[2]

Margaret
Margaret
5 months ago

For so long, employees in WA who did not want to pay union dues were forced to. The freedom to choose affiliations and memberships belongs with workers, not the state.
In addition to public employees, home healthcare aides, healthcare workers, child care workers and other groups have long been pressured to pay union dues, and can also OPT out at the website listed, OptOutToday.com Some prefer to keep more of the $ earned instead of paying fees to groups who may or may not represent them well..

Last edited 5 months ago by Margaret
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