In June, the United States Supreme Court removed a source of political and financial support for government unions, when it reversed a 41-year-old precedent permitting unions to collect fees from workers who choose not to join.
The ruling, Janus v. AFSCME, impacts more than 20 states, including New Jersey. The decision is another threat to already diminishing public-sector union numbers. Conservative activists plan to use the move as fuel for their ongoing campaign urging existing members to leave.
While union funding will inevitably suffer a significant decrease, whether or not the ruling has a significant impact on union numbers remains to be seen. In an effort to counteract the ruling, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill earlier this year making it easier for public-sector unions to attract and retain workers.
New Jersey’s Public-Sector Unions
The Garden State has one of the highest proportions of public employee union representation in the country. Sixty-percent of public workers are represented by unions; that is more than double the national average. That equates to around 359,000 employees, making unions a powerful force throughout the state.
An End to “Fair Share” Fees
In 1977, a Supreme Court ruling, Abood vs. Detroit Board of Education, allowed unions to collect mandatory “agency fees” or “fair share” fees from employees who declined to join, but would still benefit from union representation. Fair share fees can be significant – as much as 85 percent of the cost of full membership.
Federal law requires unions to represent both members and non-members alike. Fair share fee advocates believe this system prevents workers from reaping the benefits of unions without contributing their “fair share.” Those who oppose agency fees say that having to pay an entity they may not agree with politically is unconstitutional.
With the Janus vs. AFSCME decision, Union supporters fear their political and financial support will diminish as workers opt to be “free riders,” once they are not required to pay agency fees. Governor Murphy said the ruling signaled a “dark day” for organized labor.
Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker also condemned the court’s decision. Political experts on both sides see the move from a partisan perspective, as conservative donors largely supported the decision, and many others consider it a blow to Democratic causes and candidates.
Without strong unions, public-sector employees lose an important source of protection in the workplace. When business owners overlook or disregard their obligations as employers, workers are vulnerable to unfair pay practices, discrimination, and retaliation.
Marlton Employment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Provide Skilled Representation for all Employment Law Matters
If you believe your employer is ignoring your rights and you have a valid claim, contact our team of knowledgeable and experienced Marlton employment lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. for a complimentary initial evaluation of your case.
Call our Red Bank office at 732-842-6500, our Marlton office at 856-985-9800, our Newark office at 973-878-9040, or contact us at 888-396-0736 or online for a free consultation. We represent clients throughout New Jersey.