Pandemic-induced school closures underscored the conflict of interest between teacher unions and students. Strong union districts had less in-person instruction, which hit minority communities in urban centers especially hard. The power to determine the mode of instruction belies the notion that the U.S. Supreme Court put public-sector unions on a road to extinction with its 2018 decision in Janus v. AFSCME.
The Janus decision undoubtedly dented the power of such unions by declaring unconstitutional the collection of agency fees from workers who refuse to join their local union but are still represented by it. But the impact of the court’s decision has been blunted by new state laws to boost the unions’ fortunes. And a multiplicity of lawsuits seeking to extend the logic of Janus in state and local government were largely rejected by the federal courts, including the Supreme Court.
After a decade of significant change in the legal and political landscape for America’s public-employee unions, we now appear to be reaching a new equilibrium. That equilibrium has four parts.
Daniel DiSalvo is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and professor of political science at the City College of New York-CUNY.
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