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:
Changes to the Taylor Law relating to recruitment and retention of employees by the union include:
Lastly, changes to the Taylor Law applicable to union representation of non-union members include:
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.