A Victory for Teacher Freedom
posted by: Melissa | June 28, 2018, 04:45 PM   

In a major victory for teacher freedom, today the Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that public sector employees cannot be forced to pay agency fees as a condition of employment.

In the ruling, Justice Alito wrote, “Under Illinois law, public employees are forced to subsidize a union, even if they choose not to join and strongly object to the positions the union takes in collective bargaining and related activities, We conclude that this arrangement violates the free speech rights of nonmembers by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.”

The ruling goes on to say, "States and public-sector unions may no longer extract agency fees from nonconsenting employees. The First Amendment is violated when money is taken from nonconsenting employees for a public-sector union; employees must choose to support the union before anything is taken from them.” More information and a good summary of the SCOTUS ruling can be found at Education Dive.

AAE’s Chairman and President Gary Beckner responded to the decision saying, “We're thrilled that teachers around the country had their right to choose restored by the Supreme Court today. A generation of teachers has suffered under unconstitutional union agency fees. Because of today's correct ruling, teachers everywhere can now stay focused on their care of students instead of being forced to fund political speech”

Mark Janus, the plaintiff behind this landmark case was also pleased with the ruling, saying, “I’m thrilled that the Supreme Court has restored not only my First Amendment rights, but the rights of millions of other government workers across the country. Across the country, so many of us have been forced to pay for political speech and policy positions with which we disagree, just so we can keep our jobs. This is a victory for all of us. The right to say ‘no’ to a union is just as important as the right to say ‘yes.’ Finally our rights have been restored.”

AAE is not the only organization to celebrate the decision. Groups around the country see this as a victory for free speech and public sector employees.

Erica Jedynak, New Jersey State Director of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation said:

Today is a game-changer for New Jersey and the trajectory of the country. A victory for worker freedom, public employees will no longer be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment or fund political speech against their will.

Kate Walsh, President of NCTQ brings another perspective - one of opportunity for teachers’ unions, in a post-Janus world:

While this decision will require unions to obtain affirmative consent from teachers prior to collecting funds, in our view it does not hearken the demise of teachers unions. Despite the financial implications of this decision, collective bargaining will continue for the foreseeable future to play an important role in shaping teacher policies. We encourage union leaders to use this moment to breathe new life into the teaching profession, which will ensure that teachers will be even more engaged in the future.

Governor Jeb Bush, Chair of the Foundation for Excellence in Education applauded the ruling by saying:

“I am hopeful that the era of teachers’ union bosses playing politics with our schools will give way to a 21st-century model of education that focuses on the students, no the adults. Today’s decision ushers in a real opportunity to transform education in America.”

The American Federation for Children’s President John Schilling stated:

"Today is a win for families and educators across the country. We're glad to see that educators will be able to keep more of their hard-earned money in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the Janus case. Educators shouldn’t be forced to give their pay to union leaders whose self-serving political agenda opposes giving parents the right to choose the best school for their children.”

The Center for Education Reform says:

When it comes to education, the most fundamental of all policies that shape our futures, no longer can the union compel people to support activities and positions regardless of principle.

Mark Mix president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation says:

Today’s decision is a landmark victory for rights of public-sector employees coast-to-coast that will free millions of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other public employees from mandatory union payments. While this victory represents a massive step forward in the fight to protect American workers from forced unionism, that fight is far from over.

Bob Bowdon of Choice Media says:

"It’s a bit of a head-scratcher how we ever even needed such a self-evident confirmation of free speech and freedom of association rights in the first place."

Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of the Buckeye Institute issued a statement that said:

"The Supreme Court today in Janus v. AFSCME announced its basic rule of human decency and common sense: consent matters-and our hardworking public-sector workers can no longer be forced to pay for political speech or other activities without their affirmative consent."

This decision does not mark the end of teachers’ struggles to ensure their freedom of association and speech when it comes to union membership. According to AAE’s Executive Vice President, Colin Sharkey, “We have a tremendous amount of work to do to ensure teachers everywhere know their association rights and are free to choose the option that best suits their goals, values, and budget. AAE stands ready to educate teachers and to serve members throughout the country with professional benefits including liability insurance, employment rights coverage, and teacher-led advocacy.”

The decision was written by Justice Alito, and can be read on the Supreme Court’s website in its entirety. The ruling was dissented by the court’s four liberal justices.

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