As we head into the new year, Ohio teachers’ unions are keeping a close eye on a U.S. Supreme Court case that could negatively impact membership numbers.
The case is Janus v. AFSCME, or the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, a public employee union.
Mark Janus, an employee of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, chose not to be a member of AFSCME, but is still required to pay a fee for union expenses — like negotiating contracts. Those fees are not to be used for political speech, but Janus argues you can’t separate the dollars and his money is being used to promote political views he doesn’t support.
If the Supreme Court were to agree with Janus and two other employees that are part of the case, the ruling would result in what’s essentially a national right-to-work law, ending the payments.
Ohio unions argue they would take both a financial and membership hit—especially teachers’ unions who represent some 150,000 educators in the state.
But in its friend-of-the-court brief, the Columbus-based Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions argued right-to-work laws in states like Oklahoma and Michigan resulted in a bump of union membership.
The group wrote the union stance is not enough to dispute that workers like Janus are having their first amendment rights violated. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court scheduled oral arguments in the case for February.