What does the Janus case, or “right-to-work” laws, mean?

It’s pretty simple. Public employees can no longer be forced to financially support a union that they do not want to be a member of. Whether they choose to be a member or not, workers are still covered under their bargaining agreements (this is known as “exclusive representation” and it is something unions fight for) and all provisions in the will still apply.

Who is affected by this case? 

Approximately 5 million unionized public employees in 22 states are most impacted. Currently, 28 states already grant the “right-to-work” without forced unionization to most or all public workers, while about 5 million workers in the 22 states without these right-to-work laws still had to pay their unions regardless of whether not the unions are serving their best interests. The Janus case changed that – all public employees now have a choice.

If I opt out of the union, what happens to my salary and benefits? What about my pension? Can I be fired? Will I lose my seniority or tenure?

None of your benefits change and you cannot be fired. Whether they are a member or not, workers are subject to the contract provisions regarding salary and benefits. Pension benefits are set in state law or, less often, by a contract. Either way, this does not change. You cannot be fired and your seniority and tenure will not be affected. If you experience any problems with these issues, contact our legal team here.

I’m worried about legal liability at work. Do I need a union to have liability insurance?

Many unions cover their members with liability insurance. Most employers have this coverage as well. But you don’t need either to have coverage; it can typically be gotten at a much lower cost than union dues. Check with your insurance provider for details. If you are a teacher or school employees, another option is the Association of American Educators, who already insure thousands of teachers nationwide.

Will the union retaliate against me? 

While unions cannot legally take away your job, salary and benefits, some may retaliate in other ways. Some government unions have publicly posted the information of ex-members while individual employees have been bullied. One union said it would use “any legal means” to combat members who want to leave. Choose your state above to find how you can opt out and let us know if you have any problems.

Couldn’t workers already opt out of union membership? Why did Janus have to happen?

It’s true that unionized public employees could already choose not to technically be members of the union organized in their workplace. However, these employees were still forced to financially support the unions by paying them what’s typically called an “agency fee” — supposedly for funding general operation costs for the union, but often used for political purposes some members do not support. The Janus ruling means that public employees can no longer be forced to financially support a union that they do not want to be a member of.