WASHINGTON, D. C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today issued an advisory clarifying and reaffirming the rights of the District’s public-sector employees and their employers’ obligations in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling on union dues. The Court’s recent Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 ruling overturned decades of law allowing public-sector unions to require non-union employees to pay a fee that helps defray the costs of the benefits non-member employees receive from the unions.
These “fair-share” fees have been a longstanding feature of unions that serve teachers, police, firefighters, social workers and other government employees in the District. While the decision has generated confusion about the rights of the District’s public-sector employees, AG Racine’s guidance makes clear that their rights and protections as well as workers’ fundamental relationship with their union remain the same. Public employees in the District maintain the right to:
- Form, join, or assist any labor organization, or to refrain from doing so;
- Bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing; and
- Be free from threats, interference, coercion, or reprisal while exercising their protected rights to engage in such activities.
AG Racine’s guidance also makes clear that the Janus decision does not affect any agreements between a union and its members to pay union dues, and existing membership cards or other agreements by union members to pay dues should continue to be honored. The opinion only affects the payment of a fair-share fee by individuals who decline union membership:
- Under Janus, government employers may not deduct such fees from a non-union member’s wages unless the employee has already provided consent;
- Government employees who are not union members and paying agency service fees as of June 27, 2018 may choose to become a voluntary dues-paying member by contacting the union that serves as the exclusive representative for their bargaining unit and following the instructions given for becoming a voluntary dues paying member;
- Government employees in the District may continue to pay dues through a payroll deduction.
AG Racine’s full post-Janus guidance to public-sector employees, employers and unions in the District is available at: http://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2018-07/Post_Janus_Advisory_FINAL.pdf