US Supreme Court Janus Decision:
Important Information for TALB/CTA/NEA Members
On June 27, 2018, the Supreme Court overturned more than four decades of precedent by making fair share fees for public sector workers unconstitutional in the Janus v. AFSCME case. During this time, it’s important for members to know:
- When we stand together, we have power. Power that allows us to bargain better learning and working conditions, good contracts that include pay increases, health care and retirement security. It gives us a seat at the table to negotiate for things that improve the educational opportunities of our students, like additional resources, smaller class sizes, more nurses and counselors to keep students healthy and supported.
- If we allow this decision to weaken our union, our ability to bargain better pay and benefits, support for new educators, a voice the things that impact student learning, and necessary services for our most at-risk youth could go away. That’s why it’s more important than ever for us to keep our union strong.
- Groups like the California Teachers Empowerment Network, Choice for Teachers, and Freedom Foundation, funded by billionaire corporate CEOs, are already attacking local chapters in California. They are running drop campaigns and urging our members to leave the union. We can’t let them succeed. Now is the time to be loud and proud about being a member of our union. We are always stronger together.
Frequently Asked First Questions
I heard on the news something about a case hurting teachers’ unions. What’s going on?
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that unions can’t collect fair share fees from non-union members. Until today, non-members in our school district have paid their fair share for the union representation they receive and for the contract they benefit from like everyone else.
Where can I get more information?
Right here on TALB.org or visit cta.org/Janus.
How does this affect union members?
It doesn’t really. Your membership, dues, etc. remain unchanged. It only affects non-union members.
I’m an agency fee payer. Do I get a refund of all the money you took before?
No. This decision only applies going forward.
How will the district know to stop taking money out of my check?
CTA has supplied the district with a list of fair share payers and have notified the district to immediately stop taking fair share fees out. Any funds taken out in error after today will be escrowed and refunded.
How badly will this hurt our union?
The news coverage has been calling this a devastating blow. We’ve been preparing for the possibility of this outcome. It will hurt us some financially, but it won’t devastate us, and we believe in the long run we’ll come out of this stronger. We were advocating for students and our members long before fair share existed and we’re going to keep on doing it regardless of this latest development. The people behind this case want to weaken us—that’s not going to happen.
Questions About Your Membership
Does this ruling mean I can drop my membership and not pay dues?
You could, but that would be exactly what the people behind this court case want. They want to weaken the ability of educators and other workers to come together in unions to negotiate on behalf of their members and, in our case, to stand up for students and for public education. It’s part of a broader scheme to rig the system against working people.
Would I get the same benefits if I did drop my membership?
No. You would get the benefits of the negotiated contract but have no say in the priorities like salary and benefits, school safety conditions, class sizes and all the other things in the contract. You’d also be ineligible for all the benefits that come with membership, including a $1 million-dollar personal liability policy, legal services, access to student-centered professional development, membership discounts on insurance, entertainment, and travel. Unfortunately, you’d also lose your voice in the union. You couldn’t vote in union elections and you wouldn’t even be able to vote on the contract.
We encourage you to maintain your membership. Our effectiveness bargaining fair and just salaries, benefits and working conditions is directly related to member support and the power we have in our collective voice. Increases in funding to public schools, ensuring that rights such as permanent status and due process are protected, and beneficial contractual improvements are direct results of the important work we have been able to accomplish because of a united CTA membership.
If you still decide you’d like to drop your union membership contact TALB for the required process. Keep in mind that by not being a member you will not be eligible for standard disability insurance, legal representation regarding employment matters including layoffs, and much more.
What is the Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 Case?
The Janus case is an attempt to further rig the system against working people by challenging the constitutionality of fair share fees. These fees have been collected by public employee unions from non-members whom they are obligated to represent under the collective bargaining agreements they have negotiated. The plaintiffs argue that those fees violate their First Amendment free speech rights by compelling them to pay for political speech they disagree with. But the fact is, the current system does not violate anyone’s free speech rights because fair share payers only pay for costs related to bargaining their contract and representing them in any contract-related issue. Fair share contributions have been upheld by the United States Supreme Court for over 40 years as a sensible compromise that protects the rights of both individuals and unions.
What are fair share fees?
Fair share fees, sometimes called “agency fees,” are collected from non-members by their unions for the representation they receive under the contract (salary, benefits, teaching conditions such as class size and safety provisions, etc.) as well as the representation they are entitled to for individual employment issues. Fee payers are NOT charged for union political activities, membership promotion, local scholarships and other programs not part of representation.
Who is behind this case?
The National Right to Work Foundation and other anti-worker groups are backing the case. They are part of a network of extremists funded by corporate CEOs to use the U.S. legal system to rig the rules against everyday working people. Their goal with Janus is no secret: they want to use the U.S. Supreme Court to take away the freedom of working people to join in strong unions, because unions give workers a powerful voice in speaking up for themselves, their families and their communities. Unions have played a critical role in building and protecting the middle class in America. Janus is part of an $80 million campaign by anti-worker forces to “defund and defang” unions.
How is Janus different from the Friedrichs v. CTA case from a few years ago?
It’s not; it’s the same issue, brought this time by different plaintiffs against a different union. It is a “second bite at the apple” for the anti-worker forces who filed the earlier suit but were unsuccessful.
What’s different this time around?
CTA prevailed two years ago when a 4-4 tied U.S. Supreme Court vote upheld the long-standing precedent. Now with Neil Gorsuch filling the late Justice Scalia’s seat (Scalia was widely predicted to side against the unions in Friedrichs, but he died suddenly and unexpectedly without voting), there is no danger of a tie with a full nine-member Court.
Won’t that encourage current some members to drop their membership if they can get many of the same benefits for free?
Possibly, but most CTA members recognize the value of their union membership and that the union is only as strong as the totality of its members.
How damaging will an adverse decision in Janus be to TALB and CTA?
TALB and CTA have already been planning and budgeting based on the potential of losing fair share. We are tightening our belt in some areas, reallocating resources in others. CTA has been around for 155 years, with fair share in most of chapters for only a fraction of that time. We have been the strongest, most effective voice for California students and educators in the years before agency fee, while it existed, and based on new levels of member engagement, we will continue to be as strong – even stronger – if fair share is struck down.
Will non-paying bargaining unit members still be represented by the union?
Yes. The union will still have the duty to represent non-members and those workers will still enjoy all of the benefits negotiated for them by their colleagues and union staff under the contract.