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Will a Case Before the U.S. Supreme Court Help CT Put its Fiscal House in Order?

February 28, 2018 By Staff
Will a Case Before the U.S. Supreme Court Help CT Put its Fiscal House in Order?

The Janus v. AFSCME case could stop unions' ability to charge non-union members fees. Less money for unions means less power, which could enable the state to negotiate better deals in the future.

There’s a case before the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) this week that, if the judges rule in favor of non-union workers, could help Connecticut eventually get its fiscal house in order.

Here’s how.

Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Council 31, is a case before SCOTUS that involves unions’ ability to charge non-union members an “agency” fee for negotiating on their behalf.

SCOTUSblog’s Amy Howe summed it up in a blog post last week:

Like many employees, Mark Janus was upset about deductions from his paycheck – specifically, the roughly $45 per month that goes to the local branch of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the union that represents him. But unlike most employees, Janus – a child-support specialist at the state’s Department of Healthcare and Family Services, who does not belong to the union – may be able to do something about that deduction. Next week the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in his challenge to the constitutionality of the fee. It’s a familiar question for eight of the nine justices, who have already heard oral argument on the issue twice.

If the court rules that unions cannot charge non-union members fees, money will leave unions’ coffers all across the nation, including in Connecticut.

Less money equals less power for state unions, some of which have a chokehold on Connecticut taxpayer dollars by continuing to negotiate generous benefits and pensions for state employees.

Yankee Institute’s Carol Platt Liebau spoke at a rally in Washington, D.C. this week “on behalf of the government workers across CT who don’t want to be forced to pay a union just to keep their job.”

On the other side, unions have a powerful ally: the speaker of the house. See, Rep. Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin) is not only a union employees, he’s an employee of AFSCME – the union being challenged in the case before the Supreme Court.

CTNewsJunkie reported that Aresimowicz appeared at a union rally this week in Hartford, and said “collective bargaining will be on the ballot” this November.

Aresimowicz may be right, but that doesn’t mean Connecticut voters will case their ballots in favor of powerful state employee unions. A ruling from the Supreme Court in favor of Janus, and against AFSCME, could be a first step for those who want to get the state’s long-term fiscal house in order.