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Government unions campaign to undermine the First Amendment – Daily News


In light of President Biden’s continued efforts to expand the size, power, and influence of unions in the United States, it is increasingly important to point out the myriad ways in which government unions have attempted to undermine the U.S. Constitution in these past years. last years.

The 2018 Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, which argued that unions must obtain consent from public employees before taking their money for political speech, was hailed as a paradigm shift at the time. So how did the decision go?

Not as good as we had initially hoped for.

The Freedom Foundation chronicled a massive, coordinated national campaign by government unions to prevent Janus’ application, the result being the willful circumvention of the First Amendment.

These efforts include:

  • outright falsification of employee signatures on union membership forms;
  • limit requests for cancellation of contributions to arbitrary evasion periods as short as one week per year;
  • simply ignore members’ unsubscribe requests;
  • refund the money unconstitutionally confiscated only after being sued; and,
  • gag statutes preventing government agencies from informing employees of their right to abstain from paying union dues.

In what is perhaps the most pernicious and disturbing tactic of the First Amendment’s breakout in the post-Janus era, there is evidence that the West Coast unions have forged signatures on the cards. Membership authorization and workers’ contributions their money. This issue has been the subject of no less than 12 lawsuits on behalf of workers in California, Oregon and Washington in the past two years.

In fact, the Freedom Foundation recently slapped Oregon’s Service Employees International Union (SIEU) Local 503 with a federal lawsuit under Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) after trade unionists were found to have established a pattern and practice of forging signatures on membership forms.

Rather than acknowledging the Supreme Court ruling that workers should “opt for” deduction of union dues from their wages to be spent on political speeches, government unions across the country have inserted so-called “retention provisions”. membership ”in their memberships. The agreements.

The purpose of these clauses is to arbitrarily restrict the ability of workers to exercise their First Amendment rights to end contribution deductions at narrow annual “retirement” windows. Miss your chance or forget to “cross a T or a dot an I” and you will have to pay another year of payments against your will.

Another tactic employed by government unions in the post-Janus era to prevent employees from exercising their First Amendment rights is to simply refuse to contact them. Instead of truly recognizing that workers have rights, or at least to answer their calls, emails or texts, the unions have granted them silence. When combined with the operation of the withdrawal windows, many workers’ withdrawal attempts fail.

Often, when such indefensible practices are challenged in court, unions deliberately attempt to prevent judges from acknowledging their First Amendment violations by only refunding workers the money they owe them after those workers have earned them. brought to justice.

Not only should individuals, many of whom are heads of households responsible for supporting families, not be forced to go out and hire private lawyers to get the attention of unions, but trying to ‘suffocate’ the constitutional demands of these workers by giving them money after being sued, government unions hamper the functioning of justice.

Finally, on the same day the Janus case went to trial, former California Governor Jerry Brown enacted SB 866.

The timing was no accident.

SB 866 specifically amended the California labor code to prohibit government employers from communicating with their employees about their First Amendment rights. Likewise, workers who wish to cancel contribution deductions cannot do so directly through their employers but must first obtain the blessing of their union, which has a direct financial incentive to refuse.

Finally, unions have exclusive access to new employee directions in order to pressure and force employees to join. Similar legislation has now been enacted in several states across the country.

Despite these efforts to make Janus and the First Amendment a dead letter, there are those of us who have dedicated our careers to defending workers’ rights. Millions of dollars in employee wages are now funneled through unions without employee consent and spent on sweeping political efforts like police funding.

No matter what President Biden’s enthusiasm for Big Labor, government unions cannot be allowed to continue to trample on the First Amendment.

Timothy Snowball is a litigator with the Freedom Foundation, a national nonprofit group dedicated to fighting government union abuse.