By: Brent Sailhamer, Director of Government Affairs
Each year, ABC National showcases the vital advocacy efforts of the organization with a weeklong Legislative Conference, or LegCon, in Washington, D.C. The conference is filled with seminars, meetings, and speakers, culminating in an advocacy day throughout the halls of Congress. ABC members from across the country use the opportunity to build stronger relationships with their federally elected officials and staff, and discuss issues that are essential to the merit shop. This year, however, LegCon was a bit more memorable.
With dozens of ABC members from across Pennsylvania scheduled for a day of legislative meetings on Wednesday, the Supreme Court was also set to begin their summer recess. Just minutes before the first meeting with Sen. Bob Casey’s office began, however, the Court issued its final decision of the term in Janus v. AFSCME, a landmark case that rocked the foundation of the public sector unions across the nation. The case ended a decade-old practice utilized by unions called “fair share fees,” referring to the comparable amount of money deducted from public sector employees who decide not to join the union. The amount, equating to roughly 80% of the overall union dues, is set by the unions annually and has been justified by union organizations for their representation of employees, regardless of whether they belong to the union, during collective bargaining negotiations. Unions have long argued that their negotiations are on behalf of all public sector employees, regardless of their desire to belong to the union. As such, the unions have been entitled to collect a “fair share fee” from non-participants. Until this week. Now, public sector employees who do not wish to belong to a union will no longer be required to relinquish any portion of their paycheck. The ruling is a massive blow to public sector union coffers, which fund massive public relations campaigns, political efforts, and advocacy operations.
As ABC members discussed the ruling with Congressional leaders, including Sen. Pat Toomey, Rep. Lou Barletta, and Rep. Scott Perry, even more news came from the court as Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. Kennedy has long been known as a crucial swing vote on the court and the vacancy gives President Trump his second Supreme Court pick. Early rumors have included Third Circuit Judge Thomas Hardiman from Pittsburgh as a potential replacement.
June 28, 2018