BATON ROUGE — The U.S. Supreme Court's decision Wednesday in Janus v. AFSCME serves as an affirmation of how important workplace freedom is, the head of the Pelican Institute for Public Policy says.
Daniel J. Erspamer, CEO of the Pelican Institute, said the decision is great for public sector employees.
"This decision is great news for public sector workers across the country, whose First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association have been properly restored by the Supreme Court," Erspamer said in an interview with the Louisiana Record. "They are now free to work without the requirement to pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of their employment."
Mark Janus, a child support specialist for the state government in Illinois, argued in his suit that forcing government workers to pay union fees violated their First Amendment Rights. The high court ruled in his favor with a 5-4 vote.
Erspamer said since Louisiana has enjoyed workplace freedom for more than 40 years, he sees the decision as an affirmation of that freedom.
"I expect it will cause some workers to re-examine the value their unions provide to them," he said. "Ultimately, unions – like any organization – that are more responsive to their membership benefit everyone involved."
Erspamer said the court's decision empowers public sector workers to decide whether or not they want to join a union and support that union with their hard-earned dollars.
"The 'default' of opt-out across the country will change to opt-in, meaning the onus will now be on the unions to communicate their value to those workers and persuade them to contribute voluntarily," Erspamer said. "That said, government unions still have every opportunity to organize, recruit members who value their services and represent those members as they always have."
Erspamer said they will just have to do so without the forced fees or dues they have long enjoyed in states without workplace freedom.
"This decision will go a long way toward rebalancing what has all-too-often been an unhealthy relationship between public sector unions and politicians, especially in those communities where politicians feel pushed to make bad decisions with taxpayer dollars as a result of the outsized political power these public sector unions often wield," Erspamer said.
Janus received free legal representation from Liberty Justice Center and the National Right to Work Defense Foundation.