On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued its ruling in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31. This highly anticipated case involved a challenge to the ability of public sector unions to force nonmember government workers to pay agency fees. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that “States and public-sector unions may no longer extract agency fees from nonconsenting employees” reasoning that such a scheme “violates the free speech rights of nonmembers by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.”
In addition, the Court held that neither an agency fee nor any other payment may be deducted from a nonmember’s wages unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay. Meaning, public sector unions must receive positive indication from non-members that they wish to contribute to the union. It is no longer permissible for agency fees to be withheld until an opt-out is received. This portion of the Court’s decision brings into question certain provisions of the State’s Workforce Democracy Enhancement Act (the “Act”), which was recently passed by the Legislature in anticipation of this SCOTUS ruling.
The section of the Act most directly impacted by the Janus decision deals with the authorization of payroll deductions for union dues and fees. Under the Act, an employee (member or nonmember) can revoke deduction authorization only during the 10 days following each anniversary date of their employment. The Act goes on further to provide that notice of revocation of authorization becomes effective on the 30th day after the anniversary date of employment. It is unclear whether this small window for revocation or this limitation on the revocation’s effective date comports with the Court’s ruling in Janus.
For further analysis, please click here to view a blog post written by League Labor Relations Counsel, Joseph Hannon, Esq., and Jennifer Roselle and Ryann Aaron from the Genova Burns law firm. You should review this information with this decision with your own municipal attorney and labor attorney for more information on how it will impact your municipality.
Contact: Frank Marshall, Esq., League Staff Attorney, FMarshall@njslom.org,609-695-3481 x137.