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Q&A related to the Janus decision

What is the Janus decision?

On June 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31. The court ruled that the Constitution prohibits public employers and unions from entering into agreements that require bargaining unit members to pay an agency fee or a representation fee. The decision is available at Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31.

What are agency/representation fees?

Representation fees, also referred to as agency fees, are fees that are required for any employee in a bargaining unit who is not a union member to pay as a condition of employment. Representation fees resulted from collective bargaining agreements between employers and unions that required all employees to pay a fair share of the cost of collective bargaining. Prior to the Janus decision, employees in the bargaining unit could either join the union and pay full union dues or be a nonmember of the union and pay only a representation fee, which covered the costs related to collective bargaining and enforcement of the collective bargaining agreement. The Janus decision means that public employees who choose not to be a member of the union can no longer be required to pay a representation fee.

Does the Janus decision affect unions’ obligations to represent all bargaining unit members?

The state’s collective bargaining laws require a bargaining representative certified by the Public Employee Relations Commission (PERC) or recognized by the public employer to represent all the public employees in the bargaining unit. The court’s decision does not change these laws. Employees in positions in a bargaining unit are still subject to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.

What should the employer communicate to employees?

The employer is expected to remain neutral on the topic of union membership or nonmembership. Employees who are part of a bargaining unit with questions about membership should contact their union or PERC. 

What should be communicated to job applicants?

The employer should check job announcements and employment web pages to be sure that communication is accurate and remove any language stating that there is a requirement to join the union or pay a representation fee. It is still appropriate to notify candidates that positions are included in a bargaining unit.

If I have questions about my union dues or agency fee payment, whom should I contact?

Contact your union.