Do Not Bite the Hand That Feeds You: Extinguishing the Duty of Fair Representation in the Public-Sector Following Janus
44 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2019
Date Written: June 11, 2019
Regardless of one’s views about labor unions, it is incontrovertible that these organizations play a large role in the American workforce, by providing middle-class workers with better wages, hours, and working conditions. This piece looks at the role labor unions have played up to this point, and how a new labor regime will emerge following the holding in Janus, as well as how unions may have to alter their model in order to survive. This issue must be addressed, as there will be a shift in American labor — one that is not friendly to the middle class that is occupying many of these public-sector positions. The quote, “I can hire half of the working class to kill the other half,” could quickly become a reality in a regime where capitalist interests savagely undermine those of workers-rights.
This Note will not argue for the replacement of labor unions as the exclusive representative of an entire unit, but instead, only for those workers that wish to be unionized, thus alleviating the free-rider issue posed by the Janus ruling. Part I will first describe and give context as to the history of organized labor in the U.S., as well as a background on agency fees and their role. Part II will highlight the scrutiny that unions faced leading up to Janus, while Part III will explain the Supreme Court’s decision and how it will affect American labor in the public-sector. Next, Part IV will discuss competition amongst unions, and how such a system could lead to a more effective and fluent system. Part V will propose and outline my theory for solving the free-rider problem as posed by Janus, and how this would have the effect of satisfying pro and anti-union supporters alike, while also illustrating the benefits and flaws of other alternatives. The foundation of my proposal relies on increasing competition, while also ridding the duty of fair representation to objecting non-members, thereby eliminating the free-rider. Lastly, Part VI concludes by noting that action is necessary as a means to buffer the effect that Janus will have on labor unions.
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