Unions are facing headwinds since the Janus decision, but state governments are taking substantial steps to protect them.
NEW YORK, NY — As we approach the one-year anniversary of oral arguments in the Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, a new report by Manhattan Institute senior fellow Daniel DiSalvo lays out the current state of play in public-sector labor relations and explores potential future points of contention.
In its Janus decision, the court ruled that state laws requiring public-sector workers to pay “agency fees” to unions they had chosen not to join were unconstitutional under the First Amendment. While many predicted that this would spell disaster for public-sector unions, DiSalvo finds that though revenue has fallen, their membership has not declined dramatically. Meanwhile, state governments from New York to Hawaii have given unions a leg up since Janus by passing laws to shore up union strength and restrict employees’ ability to opt-out.
Moving forward, DiSalvo points to two areas of contestation in public-sector labor relations. First, state legislators and sympathetic legal scholars have proposed that governments directly fund public-employee unions with tax dollars. Second, conservative legal groups are challenging the authority of unions to act as the exclusive representative of all workers in a bargaining unit.