On January 19, 2018, Crabbe, Brown & James LLP filed an amicus brief on behalf of the National Fraternal Order of Police in the matter: Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, docket number 16-1466. Before the High Court is the fate of agency shop provisions for public sector unions. Agency shop provisions allow unions to charge non-union members the “fair share” of the cost of collective bargaining efforts undertaken on their behalf.

Public sector safety unions, such as the FOP, have a legal duty to represent all eligible employees of a bargaining unit regardless of union membership. Such collective bargaining negotiations determine issues like salary, benefits, equipment purchases, training, time-off, and community outreach programs. Non-union members enjoy the benefit of these services just as union members do, but without paying union dues. Agency shop provisions offset this unbalanced dynamic by allowing unions to charge those non-union members the cost of the bargaining efforts they directly benefit from, but without imposing the entire amount of union membership dues.

The Petitioner in the case, Mark Janus, contends that forcing him to pay a fair share fee is unlawful because it requires him to subsidize the “political speech” of his union; an organization he disagrees with on many topics. According to Mr. Janus, all public-sector union activity is inherently political. To Mr. Janus, there is no distinction between negotiating for public employee training and lobbying the state legislature.

The FOP believes Petitioner’s position paints public-sector union activity with too broad of a brush. Public safety unions, such as the FOP, engage in a variety of bargaining activity directed at officer and public safety, not politics. For example, the FOP negotiates on behalf of officers for better equipment such as bullet-proof vests, more comprehensive officer training, and community outreach programs. Officer and public safety is not a partisan issue.

Read our brief at the following link and check back for updates: