The Washington Post cited the Competitive Enterprise Institute on the AFSCME’s use of compulsory agency fees to fund political advocacy on a slew of partisan issues rather than using fees to negotiate collective-bargaining agreements.
Last week, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear what is sure to be a landmark case with multiple constitutional issues in play. According to the Heritage Foundation’s Elizabeth Slattery, Janus v. AFSCME “will be one of the biggest cases of the term and could have huge implications for unions across the country.” Mark Janus, an employee at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, is fighting what he believes to be a violation of his First Amendment rights. In the last case challenging government unions’ unconstitutional practices, Supreme Court justices deadlocked by a 4-4 vote. But now, I am hopeful that Trump appointee Justice Neil Gorsuch will come to the rescue and stand over the public-sector unions’ casket with a mallet and a wooden stake.
At the heart of Janus v. AFSCME is the question of whether constitutional protections are infringed upon when government unions such as the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) use compulsory “agency fees” — which are meant to cover the cost of negotiating collective-bargaining agreements — to fund what the Competitive Enterprise Institute described in its brief to the Supreme Court as “advocacy on such issues as: right-to-work statutes, infrastructure spending, government privatization and contracting, the minimum wage, voter-identification laws, tax policy, immigration reform and enforcement, gun control, D.C. statehood, marijuana legalization, ‘racial justice,’ and Supreme Court nominations, among many others.” In other words, they use union members’ money to advocate on a nearly endless list of partisan issues. If that isn’t political speech, I don’t know what is.
The debate over whether government unions should exist at all, representing the interests of the protected government class over those of the American people, is for another time. The reality we are faced with today is one where organizations such as AFSCME have, as the Competitive Enterprise Institute noted, “demonstrated unbridled creativity in channeling the fees paid” by individuals such as Janus “to fund a range of ideological activities as wide as any political party’s.” The fact is, money is fungible and can be easily redirected wherever government union officials — or AFSCME leadership in this case — intend for it to go.
You can read the full article at The Washington Post.