Janus v. AFSCME: Advocates Analyze Potential Impact
March 9, 2018

As advocates await an expected early summer U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Janus v. AFSCME case, which challenges mandatory union fees, many have weighed in on the potential impacts for teachers unions, educators, and students.

A recent post on the National Council on Teacher Quality’s Teacher Trendlines blog breaks down states’ collective bargaining laws and the types of fees that teachers unions are allowed to collect. As NCTQ explains, 23 states currently allow agency fees—and many of these states have the highest populations of teachers. These states stand to lose significant revenue if the Supreme Court finds agency fees unconstitutional.

“A change in the legality of agency fees is going to impact union finances from locals all the way to the national union headquarters,” the NCTQ post states. “While we fully expect unions to continue representing teachers at the bargaining table, a ruling against agency fees is likely to mean reduced political power for unions.”

In an Educators for Excellence blog post, E4E co-founder and co-CEO Evan Stone encourages educators to keep up to date on the Janus case. Stone says that “both teachers and students lose out when unions are weakened,” and calls on educators to support unions in becoming “more democratic, diverse, and student focused.”   

“Janus doesn’t have to spell the end of our unions—but all of us have to step up to make our unions stronger by being active, attending meetings, voting, calling for reforms to make participation easier, and running for leadership positions to ensure your voices are represented,” Stone writes.

In an article for The 74, Derrell Bradford, executive vice president of 50CAN/executive director of NYCAN, analyzes how the Janus decision could affect the Democratic Party, which “now has a chance to pivot and refine its vision in a world where teachers union dollars are now, potentially, just pennies.”

Dan Weisberg, CEO of TNTP, examines what could happen if lower revenues force unions to cut back on the different roles they play, and perhaps focus exclusively on collective bargaining—or alternatively, end involvement in collective bargaining and model themselves after other professional associations.

“As professional associations, unions could put all their resources and political clout behind a long-term plan for elevating the teaching profession through higher pay, more rigorous performance standards, and better working conditions,” Weisberg writes.

A blog post from the American Enterprise Institute also explores how unions might adapt in the years ahead.

“National unions could face a Catch-22 after Janus by focusing on either retaining membership or maintaining national political influence.”

To learn more about the legal process behind the Janus case, check out this Bellwether Education Partners blog post. Interested in connecting with other advocates who are thinking about Janus implications? Please reach out.

Christina Dobratz

Christina is PIE Network's Project Manager, Communications  

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