The United States Supreme Court Decision in Janus v. AFSCME and the Amendments to New York State’s Taylor Law

The United States Supreme Court Decision in Janus v. AFSCME and the Amendments to New York State’s Taylor Law

On June 27, 2018, the Supreme Court decided Janus v. AFSCME.  At issue in the case was whether it is constitutional for a state to have a law which requires non-union members to pay fees, typically called “agency fees”, which go towards the non-political aspects of the union, i.e. payment to the union for collectively bargained agreements, of which the non-union member is a beneficiary (i.e. requiring non-members to pay union dues).  The Supreme Court decided the case 5-4 in favor of the Plaintiff, a non-union employee, and held that deducting mandatory union fees from non-union members is a violation of that employee’s first amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution.  Thus, any state law mandating payroll deductions for non-union employees is unconstitutional, therefore, “states and public-sector union[s] may no longer extract agency fees from nonconsenting employees.”  New York State has long had an “agency fee” statute requiring public employers to deduct union dues from non-member salaries.  It is also found in many collective bargaining agreements.  That law and those aspects of the CBA’s are now unconstitutional.

            In anticipation of the Janus ruling that was handed down by the Supreme Court, Governor Cuomo inserted into the State Budget (which passed in April 2018) amendments to the Taylor Law in an effort to strengthen unions and aid in union recruitment and retention of members. 

Changes to the Taylor Law regarding dues deductions include:

  1. Employers shall commence any payroll deductions for union dues as soon as practicable but in no case later than 30 days after receiving the signed dues deduction card, and to transmit those deductions to the union within 30 days of the deduction;
  2. Employers shall accept signed authorizations for dues deductions electronically;
  3. Employers shall continue to make union fee deductions from members until the employee revokes membership in the union in writing or where the employee is no longer employed by the employer, however, if said employee returns within a period of one year to the same public employer to a position represented by the same union, said deductions shall be automatically reinstated; and,
  4. Where an employee is removed from the payroll or placed on any type of voluntary or involuntary leave, whether paid or unpaid, the employee’s membership in the union shall be continued when the employee is returned to the payroll after restoration to active duty from such leave of absence.

Changes to the Taylor Law relating to recruitment and retention of employees by the union include:

  1. Employers shall provide to the union the name, address, job title, work location, and employing agency, department, or other operating unit, within 30 days of an employee’s date of hire or promotion or transfer to a new bargaining unit; and,
  2. Within 30 days of providing the notice required under section (e) above, the employer shall permit a union representative to meet with the new employee for a reasonable amount of time during the employee’s work day without a charge to leave credits; however, such arrangements for this meeting must be scheduled in consultation with the employer.

Lastly, changes to the Taylor Law applicable to union representation of non-union members include:

  1. Unions only represent non-union members with respect to collective bargaining agreements or the enforcement of said agreements; and,
  2. Unions are NOT required to represent non-union employees during any investigations or questioning by the employer of non-union employee misconduct, during any statutory or administrative proceedings, during any stage of grievances, arbitration, or any other contractual process concerning evaluation or discipline where the non-union employee is permitted to be represented by his or her own counsel.           

There are serious immediate and long-term impacts that the above Taylor Law amendments, their viability/legality under Janus, and the Supreme Court decision in Janus, will have on public employers for the foreseeable future.  Honeywell Law Firm, PLLC remains available to assist employers with any employee issues or policy review that arises with respect to these changes in the law.   

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