WHAT TO DO ABOUT UNION DUES? JANUS, SB 866 AND CHARTER SCHOOLS

A recent landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, Janus v. AFSCME, struck down California state laws that force public employees to pay even a percentage of union dues on the grounds that this “violates the free speech rights of nonmembers by compelling them to subsidize [the union’s] private speech on matters of substantial public concern.” As a practical matter, the Court’s ruling empowers employees who were previously held hostage to opt out of paying any union dues. This could deal a significant blow to union coffers.

Anticipating the Court’s decision, the California legislature passed legislation, effective immediately, giving unions the almost exclusive ability to communicate with and on behalf of employees who oppose them. Known as SB 866, the bill requires that “public school employers”—including charter schools so designated by their charter—with unions do the following:

1. Process written authorizations from employees; take the union’s word for it. You must honor the terms of an employee’s written authorization for payroll deductions. If the union certifies it will maintain employee authorizations, you must also process their requests for deductions on behalf of employees without proof of the employee’s authorization, unless there is a dispute. (Ed. Code 45060(e), (f).)

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