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Q & A: Supreme Court Decision on Labor Union Fees - Janus Case

Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost is proud to work with the Association of California School Administrators to provide insight on this hot topic.


From Dr. Wesley Smith, ACSA Executive Director:

Before summer vacations begin, we likely will receive the highly anticipated decision of the United States Supreme Court in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (Janus). As you are aware, Janus challenges the constitutionality of requiring public employees to pay agency fees to an exclusive representative as a condition of employment. 

As I travel the state meeting with education leaders, I hear many expressing the thought that the Supreme Court will end the practice of compulsory agency fees. While we do not yet know the decision, we can be sure that the Court’s ruling will present the state’s 1,000-plus school districts with myriad questions.

In order to assist our members with timely information and guidance, ACSA is collaborating with the law firms of Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost (F3) and Lozano Smith to monitor case status and create resources to help address your questions and needs once the Court rules. The goal of this collaborative effort is to provide information to guide and expedite your work. Of course, it is not intended to be a substitute for advice from your own district counsel. 

At this time, we want to address a few urgent questions that we are hearing from our members, based on the assumption that the Court will rule that collecting mandatory agency fees from non-union members violates First Amendment rights.

QUESTION & ANSWERS

Q: When can we expect the ruling from the Court?
A: By the end of June when the Court’s current session is completed.


Q: How soon will the ruling take effect once the Court rules?
A: Immediate, unless the Court says otherwise.


Q: Would the decision supersede state law?
A: Yes.


Q: Many education agencies have received letters from classified and certificated unions specifying an action that should be taken now to prepare for the decision. Should we be taking action at this time?
A: No action is required at this time. It is premature to take action until we have a decision from the Court. However, we do offer some immediate steps for your consideration.


Q: Is the California Legislature contemplating legislation that will impact the impact of the Janus decision in our state?
A: Yes. ACSA is following a number of bills that have been introduced in anticipation of the ruling by the Court. We anticipate amendments to the legislation upon the Court’s decision. ACSA will keep you apprised of any developments that could impact you.

CONSIDERATIONS:

  • Prepare your governing board members with information about Janus to utilize in responding to constituent questions.
  • Take a collegial approach to messages and actions. Demonstrate to your employees and school communities that employees’ voices and needs will be heard and respected regardless of the outcome of Janus.
  • Send a response to union letters addressing their presumed impacts of Janus. Draft letter options available here. 
  • Outline your timeline to review the decision and prepare your team: governing board, cabinet, site and administration. 
    • Meet with your Payroll Department. Alert your district’s business team about the case and potential implications on processing payroll in June. Be prepared for immediate implementation if necessary. 
    • Human Resources and Bargaining Team. Review your district’s collective bargaining agreements to see what provisions, if any, might be impacted by Janus if the court determines agency fees are unconstitutional. This may include recognition, union rights, severability/savings, and union or organizational security provisions.
    • Site and district office administrative staff. Consider training on what they can and can’t do and say regarding union participation. Prepare for Public Records Act requests from outside entities seeking information regarding union participation. 
  • Plan to meet as soon as possible with union leaders to outline a collaborative approach to next steps.

As you find yourself navigating the busy year-end calendar, we want to be sure to let you know that ACSA has assembled a talented team of professionals who are at the ready to gather your questions and prepare materials to guide your work following the Court’s decision. Special thanks to the teams of F3 and Lozano Smith. We will host a question and answer online session once the decision has been made by the Court. 

Lastly, remember to wait and see what the Court says first before reacting or committing to any course of action. Based on the experiences of other states, be prepared to receive Public Records Act requests, particularly from right-to-work groups. These requests should be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. Work with your legal counsel to respond to any PRA requests.

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