Friday, March 2, 2018
I wonder what would become of our democracy if the argument presented in the Janus v. AFSCME US Supreme Court case applied to other aspects of everyday life. I imagine that we can all agree that ordering and eating at a restaurant, then refusing to pay the bill because you realize you object to a political opinion held and expressed by the owner, would be widely dismissed as an understandably incorrect point of view. One that responding police, district attorneys, and judges would most likely disagree with outright. The general public would reject the objection to paying your tab as the actions of a person with unreasonable expectations.
Much like bar associations have the right to collect fees to manage and monitor its members, a union has need of the resources it spends on behalf of the entirety of the workforce it represents. Much of the time a union spends is in service to its members. Even when a grievant has a specific case to be heard, the union looks at the impact across its collective bargaining agreement on all of its members and looks to minimize negative effects across all of the membership. So, while most members may not know the impact of every case, the union argues on their behalf regardless and expends resources to do so. Consistently and perpetually.
Circling back on the restaurant scenario above; how can someone who does not agree with a point of view of an organization providing service on their behalf NOT be compelled to pay their fair share? I wonder how that would apply in reverse.
What if an employee is compelled to take a position on an issue they disagree with, but their employment is predicated on them representing that position that they do not hold? What is their recourse? I imagine the obvious response might be to seek employment elsewhere. To remove themselves fully from the situation that puts their personal beliefs and that of their employers at odds.
Would it then be understandable for the employee to force their employer to change their business model around the needs of one or a few? I'm sure businesses would reject that approach. If employees force a company to change back an impulsive perspective of its workforce, there would be general chaos.
A union answers some of these questions for management. It defends all of its workers and holds fair wages and safety as core tenants. It also seeks to find peaceable solutions to labor grievances and disciplinary matters. It does this on behalf of the whole so that management can focus on its core tenants; managing.
The Janus case seeks to allow employees represented by a union to not contribute resources into that union if they disagree with any or even none of the unions greater position. This starves the union of the resources necessary to continue to fulfill its function. If removing unions ability to finance itself for the betterment of the workforce and management, the workplace rights, wages, and safety of its members will decline as will the work product. I have no illusions that any other outcome will result. In the case of public employee unions, the work product is what your tax dollars fund, namely the services your government provides. YOU!
To that point, one final point. What if the position was taken that work a government does on behalf of its people is political in nature and therefor, one who disagrees with a political position taken by their government should not and would not be required to pay their fair share? Is it truly laughable to think that all citizens could refuse to pay taxes, restaurant customers refuse to pay tabs, and union members refuse to pay dues? Would you believe that any government, business, or organization would be able to survive a total absence of resources?
I imagine a few things in my words above, but I cannot imagine the answer to my last question being anything except for a resounding no.