Forcing People to Pay Unions Was Theft

June 29, 2018

by Rob Roper

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to abolish the practice of pubic-sector labor unions literally stealing money (with state government support!) from non-members was long overdue. What the Janus decision said, in a nutshell, is that the misleadingly named “fair share” practices that allowed unions to charge non-members “agency fees” is compelled speech, an abridgment of citizens’ right to freely associate, and, therefore, a violation of First Amendment rights.

Vermont was one of twenty-two states that sanctioned agency-fees that can amount to 75 percent of full union dues. The Vermont Teachers’ Union says that it charged annual agency fees of $454 to 1100 people, compared to the full union dues of $629 (BFP, 6/27/18). The Vermont State Employees’ Association (VSEA) charged 1,513 people $14.73 per pay period as opposed to $17.75 for full membership. VSEA estimates it will lose $800,000, or about a quarter of the its $3.5 million budget, as a result of the decision (VPR, 6/27/18).

Union advocates argue that the work they do collectively bargaining on behalf of their members benefits all workers, regardless of union status. As such, they feel entitled to take by force money from those they deem to be “free riders” – the workers who don’t want to, for whatever reason, voluntarily join the union. But this is not an accurate description of what was happening.

Unions are not forced to bargain on behalf of non-members, they demand the right to do so. This creates for them a monopoly, which they covet. As such, you will not see pro-union legislators in the next session offering up counter-Janus measures kicking the free riders out from under the collective bargaining umbrella if they still refuse to join up.

Bernie Sanders and other pro-union advocates are decrying this as a blow to working people, but it’s takes some pretty twisted logic to believe leaving more money in the pockets of the people who worked to earn it is somehow bad for workers. If the product unions are providing for their members is really worth $450 a year, people will pay for it. If it’s not, they won’t.

If VSEA does end up losing $800,000 it is only because their membership does not value what they are selling. Sorry, but no sympathy here. Fix your product or go out of business, but the days of putting the government gun to somebody’s head and picking their pockets are thankfully over.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. 

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert June 30, 2018 at 1:00 am

There is little more satisfying than seeing thieves get their smackdown. And seeing the scourge of our education problems, the NEA get put in its place is gratifying as well. Thank God Hillary is not president, thank God for Neil Gorsuch, thank God Kennedy announced his retirement now. Trump is doing a great job, no matter what the crazies say.


William Hays July 7, 2018 at 1:55 am

Maybe the NEW (post-Kennedy) SCOTUS can rule on the blatantly unconstitutional practice of allowing ‘Public Service Employees’ to unionize. I hope they can, rapidly, strike down this socialist permission.


Deanne June 30, 2018 at 2:39 am

Well, considering the political climate in this country, I’m surprised this was actually ended, but what is truly incomprehensible to me is how it ever got through in the first place. How could anyone have thought, it was a good idea for money to be forcibly taken from those who earn it to fund something they don’t want?

Will public education and the IRS be defunded next? That would be phenomenal. Then we can work on some others like National Endowment for the Arts, . . .



for more unconstitutional federal agencies that are squandering our hard-earned money.


Lisa June 30, 2018 at 12:03 pm

The liberal thought process continues to puzzle me. Freedom to choose only applies when they say it does.


Robert July 2, 2018 at 2:51 pm

Their belief is everyone is equal, but they are more equal. Just like the pigs in Animal Farm.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

About Us

The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

Latest News

Do Vasectomies Prevent Dictators?

November 16, 2018 By David Flemming George Plumb claimed in a November 9 VTDigger commentary that men should feel obligated to get vasectomies to prevent authoritarians from using booming populations...

Dealing with Pre-Existing Conditions

November 15, 2018 by John McClaughry During the last national election campaign Democrats scored points by attacking Republicans for wanting to deny health insurance to people with pre-existing...

When a Liberal State Rejects a Carbon Tax

November 14, 2018 By David Flemming When asked bluntly, even the most liberal voters hate carbon taxes. That was made evident in the state of Washington on Election...

Climate issues fared poorly on state ballots 

November 14, 2018 by John McClaughry The very liberal Washington Post ran a story on November 7 on the fate of climate change issues on state ballots. Their...

How I Voted Three Times. Or not.

by Rob Roper I voted three times last Tuesday. Or maybe I didn’t. My point is, you have no idea. You see, I have two kids who recently...