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Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31

Supreme Court of the United States

February 26, 2018, Argued; June 27, 2018, Decided

No. 16-1466.

Opinion

Justice Alito delivered the opinion of the Court.

Under Illinois law, public employees are forced to subsidize a union, even if  [*2460]  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.

We upheld a similar law in Abood v. Detroit Bd. of Ed., 431 U. S. 209, 97 S. Ct. 1782, 52 L. Ed. 2d 261 (1977), and we recognize the importance of following precedent unless there are strong reasons for not doing so. But there are very strong reasons in this case. Fundamental free speech rights are at stake. Abood was poorly reasoned. It has led to practical problems and abuse. It is inconsistent with other First Amendment cases and has been undermined by more recent decisions. Developments since Abood was handed down have shed new light on the issue of agency fees, and no reliance [***11]  interests on the part of public-sector unions are sufficient to justify the perpetuation of the free speech violations that Abood has countenanced for the past 41 years. Abood is therefore overruled.

Under the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (IPLRA), employees of the State and its political subdivisions are permitted to unionize. See Ill. Comp. Stat., ch. 5, §315/6(a) (West  [**935]  2016). If a majority of the employees in a bargaining unit vote to be represented by a union, that union is designated as the exclusive representative of all the employees. §§315/3(s)(1), 315/6(c), 315/9. Employees in the unit are not obligated to join the union selected by their co-workers, but whether they join or not, that union is deemed to be their sole permitted representative. See §§315/6(a), (c).

Once a union is so designated, it is vested with broad authority. Only the union may negotiate with the employer on matters relating to “pay, wages, hours[,] and other conditions of employment.” §315/6(c). And this authority extends to the negotiation of what the IPLRA calls “policy matters,” such as merit pay, the size of the work force, layoffs, privatization, promotion methods, and non-discrimination policies. §315/4; see §315/6(c); see generally, e.g., [***12]  Illinois Dept. of Central Management Servs. v. AFSCME, Council 31, 2016-1 C.B. 322, 2016-7 I.R.B. 322, No. S-CB-16-17 etc., 33 PERI ¶67 (ILRB 2016) (Board Decision).

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138 S. Ct. 2448 *; 201 L. Ed. 2d 924 **; 2018 U.S. LEXIS 4028 ***; 86 U.S.L.W. 4663; 168 Lab. Cas. (CCH) P61,878; 211 L.R.R.M. 3201; 27 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 554; 2018 WL 3129785

MARK JANUS, Petitioner v. AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE, COUNTY, AND MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES, COUNCIL 31, et al.

Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.

Prior History:  [***1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT

Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, 851 F.3d 746, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5058 (7th Cir. Ill., Mar. 21, 2017)

Disposition: Reversed and remanded.

CORE TERMS

employees, agency fee, nonmembers, cases, public-sector, bargaining, public employee, collective bargaining, teachers, the First Amendment, decisions, collective-bargaining, agency-fee, benefits, exclusive representative, rights, stare decisis, workplace, designation, matters, Amici, negotiating, overruling, regulation, chargeable, subsidize, government entity, expenditures, parties, reasons

Business & Corporate Compliance, Labor & Employment Law, Collective Bargaining & Labor Relations, Bargaining Subjects, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Freedoms, Freedom of Speech, Public Employees, Labor & Employment Law, Bargaining Units, Duty of Fair Representation, Scope, Bill of Rights, State Application, Collective Bargaining & Labor Relations, Freedom of Speech, Governments, Courts, Judicial Precedent, The Judiciary, Case or Controversy, Constitutionality of Legislation