Janus v. American Federation Of State, County, And Municipal Employees, Council

138 S.Ct. 2448 (2018)


Under Illinois law, public employees are forced to subsidize a union, even if they choose not to join and strongly object to the positions the union takes in collective bargaining and related activities. If a majority of the employees in a bargaining unit vote to be represented by a union, that union is designated as the exclusive representative of all the employees. Once a union is so designated, it is vested with broad authority. Only the union may negotiate with the employer on matters relating to “pay, wages, hours, and other conditions of employment.” This extends to the negotiation of “policy matters,” such as merit pay, the size of the workforce, layoffs, privatization, promotion methods, and non-discrimination policies. Designating a union as the employees’ exclusive representative substantially restricts the rights of individual employees. Individual employees may not be represented by any agent other than the designated union; nor may individual employees negotiate directly with their employer. The union is required by law to provide fair representation for all employees in the unit, members and nonmembers alike. Employees who decline to join the union are assessed an “agency fee,” which amounts to a percentage of the union dues. Nonmembers may be charged for the portion of union dues attributable to activities that are “germane to [the union’s] duties as collective-bargaining representative,” but nonmembers may not be required to fund the union’s political and ideological projects. The outlays in the first category are known as “chargeable” expenditures, while those in the latter are labeled “nonchargeable.” A union categorizes its expenditures as chargeable or nonchargeable and thus determines a nonmember’s “proportionate share.” This determination is then audited; the amount of the “proportionate share” is certified to the employer; and the employer automatically deducts that amount from the nonmembers’ wages. Nonmembers need not be asked, and they are not required to consent before the fees are deducted. If nonmembers “suspect that a union has improperly put certain expenses in the [chargeable] category,” they may challenge that determination. Here Ps,  the nonmembers, were told that they had to pay for “lobbying,” “social and recreational activities,” “advertising,” “membership meetings and conventions,” and “litigation,” as well as other unspecified “services” that “may ultimately inure to the benefit of the members of the local bargaining unit.” P is represented by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 (D). P refused to join because he opposes “many of the public policy positions that D advocates,” including the positions it takes in collective bargaining. D was required to pay an agency fee of $44.58 per month. The Governor commenced an action in federal court, asking that the law be declared unconstitutional, and the Illinois attorney general (a respondent here) intervened to defend the law. P and two other state employees also moved to intervene-but on the Governor’s side. Ds moved to dismiss the Governor’s challenge for lack of standing. The District Court agreed but held that P and the other individuals who had moved to intervene had standing because the agency fees unquestionably injured them. Ps claim that all “nonmember fee deductions are coerced political speech” and that “the First Amendment forbids coercing any money from the nonmembers.” D moved to dismiss the amended complaint, correctly recognizing that the claim it asserted was foreclosed by Abood. The District Court granted the motion, and the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.