What do the following two things have in common: The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision allowing government workers to opt out of paying union dues and an effort by liberal activists to pass a rent-control initiative in November? On the surface, both issues directly involve the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. AFSCME was the defendant in the court’s Janus v. AFSCME case and its affiliate supports the California campaign.
More significantly, such promotion of a political initiative that has nothing to do with worker rights illustrates the wisdom of the high court’s Janus ruling. The court declared that all mandatory dues – even for collective-bargaining activities – are a violation of the First Amendment’s right to free association. Government workers may now opt out of all union payments, which means that public-sector unions will have less time and cash to promote these kinds of nefarious left-wing ballot campaigns. It’s the very definition of the “win-win” cliché.
The Janus decision changed the status quo that went back to 1977, when the Supreme Court split the free-speech baby in the Abood decision. Back then, government employees had to pay union dues – and the unions were free to use the money however they preferred, on everything from contract negotiations to political action. It clearly was wrong to force conservatives to fund liberal political activities (and vice versa) or to belong to a group they found offensive.