Last week, National Taxpayers Union and the Goldwater Institute filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court asking them to take the case of Belgaul v. Inslee. This case involves Washington state’s ability to involuntarily take union dues from state workers who decide not to join a union. NTU believes this case is essential to the Constitution’s protection of free speech and is an important follow up to ensure worker freedom is not stifled in the years ahead.
This case follows the landmark 2018 Janus v. AFSCME decision, where the Court ruled that public-sector unions cannot compel non-member employees to pay fees to cover the costs of non-political union activities. Because of Janus, millions of public-sector workers have a choice whether they want to give hundreds, or even thousands of dollars of their own money to big unions. Contrary to rhetoric from those who back forced unionization, Janus did not destroy public sector unions; instead, it gives workers the freedom to choose -- a principle every American should unequivocally support.
One of the many beneficiaries of that decision is Melissa Belgau, a public sector union member in Washington state. Following Janus, Ms. Belgau and six other union members resigned from their union and asked that their union dues stop being siphoned from their paychecks. The Washington Federation of State Employees refused to stop deducting union dues. The Union responded by telling the employees they were only allowed to cancel the deduction of union dues from their wages during a 10-day period during the next year. This arbitrary “escape window” is clearly an attempt to undermine the Janus decision by making it as difficult as possible to opt-out of the union.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled against the workers back in September. It is irresponsible for Washington to continue this practice despite the clear ruling from the Supreme Court. We hope the Court takes this case in order to continue the quest for worker freedom.