Recently National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix spoke to WISN’s Vicki McKenna about two cases that could have major implications for public sector workers if the Supreme Court decides to hear them. Janus v. AFSCME and Casanova v. International Association of Machinists both deal with employees seeking refunds of dues unconstitutionally seized before the 2018 Janus decision.
When Janus v. AFSCME was originally decided, the court held that public sector workers can’t be forced to support a union as a condition of their employment, and that nonmembers can’t have dues deducted from their paychecks without their consent. As Mix said in the interview, “When you rule on the first amendment there’s a legal concept called black letter law, which means ‘as if it was the law from the beginning’. These workers ought to be able to go back and get their money back through the statute of limitations.”
He also pointed out that the Supreme Court specifically recognized in Janus that unions have known since the 2012 Foundation-won Knox v. SEIU case that mandatory union fees for public sector employees likely did not comply with the First Amendment.
In the majority opinion in Janus, Justice Alito wrote:
public-sector unions have been on notice for years regarding this Court’s misgivings about Abood. In Knox, decided in 2012, we described Abood as a First Amendment “anomaly.” 567 U. S., at 311. Two years later in Harris, we were asked to overrule Abood, and while we found it unnecessary to take that step, we cataloged Abood’s many weaknesses. In 2015, we granted a petition for certiorari asking us to review a decision that sustained an agency-fee arrangement under Abood. Friedrichs v. California Teachers Assn., 576 U. S.___. After exhaustive briefing and argument on the question whether Abood should be overruled, we affirmed the decision below by an equally divided vote. 578 U. S. ___(2016) (per curiam). During this period of time, any public sector union seeking an agency-fee provision in a collective bargaining agreement must have understood that the constitutionality of such a provision was uncertain.
If the Supreme Court takes one of these cases and rules in favor of the workers seeking refunds, it would set a precedent that would result in the return of hundreds of millions of dollars in dues for workers around the country.
You can listen to the entire interview below: