Oregon and Washington Teachers Exercise Their Janus Rights

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Oregon is a Model 3 teacher bargaining state.  That means, prior to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s Janus decision, teachers and other education personnel were mostly either forced to become a member of a teacher union and endure their exclusive representation power, or pay dues to an unwanted union, as an agency fee payor.  Currently, every teacher in a school district with exclusive representation, is still forced to abide by a teacher union-bargained contract whether they agree with the provisions or not.  While the Janus decision has released all public sector workers from the burden of being a member or paying forced dues, teacher union officials have tried every trick in the book to keep teachers and other education workers paying dues.  It appears, however, that teacher union officials’ ploys are not preventing teachers from exercising their consciences.   Collin Anderson has the story in the Washington freebeacon.com.

Two Oregon teachers’ unions—the state’s American Federation of Teachers (AFT) chapter and the Oregon School Employees Association (OSEA)—reported drops in paying members of 35 percent and 36 percent, respectively. Both unions lost nearly $1 million in revenue as a result, with the OSEA closing three field offices and accepting a $400,000 bailout from its parent organization to help make ends meet. In Washington, the Federation of State Employees disclosed a 27 percent decline in financial supporters since June 2018.

The membership declines reflect the waning power of unions in the United States.

A major turning point came in 2018 when the Supreme Court declared forced dues schemes for government workers unconstitutional in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. Unions nationwide hemorrhaged revenue, as agency fee payers resigned. The loss of those partial dues payers caused AFT’s national office to lose 4.3 percent of its total financial supporters even as it added thousands of new members.

Aaron Withe, national director of the pro-free market Freedom Foundation, said the effects of the ruling have been especially pronounced in traditional union strongholds Oregon and Washington because of outreach efforts. The foundation launched an information campaign targeted at agency fee payers and union members to advise them of their right to stop paying labor groups.

Neither Oregon nor Washington labor officials responded to requests for comment.

In response, union leaders have launched a Janus counterattack, introducing hundreds of bills in state legislatures across the country to advance pro-union policies. Many of these bills unionize new workers without their knowledge or consent and provide nonmember fee workarounds in states such as Oregon.

The National Right to Work Foundation, which successfully argued the Janus case before the Supreme Court, is now fighting several legal battles to close loopholes that labor unions use to prevent workers from ending their payments. Many local and state unions have attempted to install “withdrawal windows,” refusing to honor resignation requests that do not meet certain deadlines. Foundation spokesman Patrick Semmens said such policies directly reflect labor unions’ fears over their waning influence.

“When you see a significant drop in membership like this when union support is finally voluntary it demonstrates just how much union bosses rely on coercion to corral workers into their ranks,” he said. “Hundreds of thousands of teachers and other public employees across the country remain trapped in dues payments because of union policies that block workers from exercising their First Amendment rights.”

Withe said the Freedom Foundation plans on expanding its operations to other states, including those in the Rust Belt, to bring its education campaigns in Oregon and Washington to larger audiences.

“We expect to see these results continue in the larger states that we operate in as we continue and expand this campaign,” Withe said.