The Editorial Board at The Wall Street Journal published a column on May 31, 2020, detailing efforts in Texas to enforce the landmark Janus v AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court decision argued and won by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys:
The Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, plans to release an advisory opinion soon that could help free public employees who are fed up with their union. In 2018 in Janus v. Afscme, the Supreme Court said that union fees couldn’t be deducted from the paycheck of a government worker who didn’t ‘affirmatively consent.’
“The question is what flows from this logic. Last fall Alaska Governor Michael Dunleavy, citing Janus, signed an order to let state workers quit the union anytime, instead of only during 10 enchanted days once each year. Union members also would have to refresh their consent forms periodically.
The move by Attorney General Paxton came after Foundation President Mark Mix and staff attorney William Messenger — who argued the Janus case at the Supreme Court — called on states like Texas to emulate Alaska. They wrote that “state officials, along with federal agencies, should follow Alaska’s example” in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal last August.
In addition, Mix and Messenger highlighted how Janus requires that government workers must voluntarily waive their First Amendment rights before union dues or fees can be deducted from their paycheck through a voluntary waiver:
Fourteen months ago the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment protects government employees from being forced to subsidize unions. Janus v. Afscme affirmed that some five million state and local workers have the legal right to stop such payments.
Another aspect of Janus, however, has been overshadowed. The decision requires that the government obtain proof that workers voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently waived their First Amendment rights not to subsidize union speech before deducting union dues or fees from their paychecks. “To be effective, the waiver must be freely given and shown by ‘clear and compelling’ evidence,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote. “Unless employees clearly and affirmatively consent before any money is taken from them, this standard cannot be met.”
Yet the federal government and many states and localities continue to deduct union dues without evidence that workers waived their speech rights, usually based on pre-Janus authorization forms that come nowhere close to demonstrating a waiver. Labor Department figures suggest unconstitutional deductions could be coming out of the paychecks of as many as 7.2 million government employees nationwide. The fix is simple: Governments must cease transferring wages to unions until they amend their dues-deduction policies to comply with Janus.