Rumor has it that the Supreme Court will issue a decision today [correction: not today, maybe Thursday] in Janus v. AFSCME, which pits Mark Janus, a child support specialist in the Illinois Department of Healthcare of Family Services who has to pay an agency fee of $45 per paycheck, against the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, of which he is not a member. Janus argues that bargaining with the government is, by nature, political speech, and that required union membership violates his First Amendment rights to free speech.
Oddsmakers are predicting that SCOTUS will decide in Janus’ favor. No longer will public unions be empowered to collect agency fees from all members. Instead, members will have the right to choose.
But not to worry, NJEA: Phil Murphy has your back. Not that it needs him: after all, the New Jersey state teacher union is the only teacher union in the country with the clout to close schools for two days in November for its annual convention. Every other state union has its convention over the summer or on a weekend. In action so swift hardly anyone noticed, the State Legislature passed the “Democracy Enhancement Act” which makes it extraordinarily difficult for teachers to opt out of paying $886/year in union dues. Governor Phil Murphy signed the bill on May 18th.
- Severely restricts the time period when workers are allowed to opt out of a union. They used to be able to drop their membership anytime during the year, though they still had to pay dues. Now, if the court rules as expected, they will be able to drop their membership and pay no dues, but only during a limited period each year – just the first 10 days after their hiring-anniversary date.
- Mandates that in addition to providing work details, government personnel departments have 10 days to hand over to the union the home address, personal email address and the home and cell phone numbers of each new employee. Beginning Jan. 1, they must provide that personal information on all employees every 120 days.
- Makes it difficult for taxpayer and other outside groups to encourage workers to drop their membership by now prohibiting the disclosure of employee information through public-records requests.
- Guarantees that union officials can spend at least 30 minutes of paid time with each new hire. There’s no limit on how long the meetings can last, so anyone thinking about not joining may be in for a long session.
Will teachers who wish to quit the union be able to follow these rigid rules? Here’s some advice from N.J. teacher Laura Ellen in a comment on Sullivan’s post:
To any NJEA member who’d like to bail out of the union following next week’s likely Supreme Court decision in favor of workers who are DONE with paying useless union dues, here are the two key takeaways:
- Since the time period for when workers are allowed to opt out of a union has been severely restricted, union members need to PAY ATTENTION to their hiring-anniversary date. Members formerly were able to drop their membership anytime during the year, though they still had to pay dues. Now, if the court rules as expected, they will be able to drop their membership and pay no dues, but only during a limited period each year – just the first 10 days after their hiring-anniversary date. So MARK YOUR CALENDARS, FUTURE NJEA QUITTERS!
- The NJEA has demanded that your district’s HR department hand over to them your personal info so they can continue to hassle you. This includes: your home address, personal email address and your home and cell phone numbers. Of course, you can just throw away any propaganda they might mail you, block their emails, and block their calls. Or–you can organize and fight this invasion of privacy by a third party organization of which you will soon no longer be a member.
Good luck, Soon-to-Be-Former NJEA Members!