Why the Janus v. AFSCME court decision matters

In his Gettysburg Address President Abraham Lincoln did not close by saying, “Government of the government employees, by the government employees, for the government employees.” Yet, for the past couple of decades that is exactly what has occurred in our country.

No other entity spends as much money to influence government policies and has as much control over a political party (in this case the Democrats) than government unions (SEIU, NEA, AFSCME, and others).  Annually they are always at the top of the list of campaign contributions, soft money, and Independent expenditures. Then, once their candidates is elected, public unions are always the leading spender in lobbying our elected officials.

In Washington, there have been multiple times in the past decade when public unions have been the sole or the largest contributor on initiative campaigns. Literally spending millions to convince voters to either raise taxes or make government larger.

Public union money has paid for the creation of hundreds of special interest groups around the country with deceiving names that hide their backing and purpose. They influence policy discussions with self-serving studies, media campaigns, and even, paid protestors.

The result is government actions with stated goals to cure a social ill yet, in the end, benefit government unions far more. Look at the millions Seattle spends on the homeless.  The size of government has grown yet the problem keeps getting worse. Remember, Obama’s $787 billion “Stimulus Package” that was supposed reduce unemployment?  Instead unemployment continued to rise while government unions received their payback for strongly supporting Obama in the 2008 campaign.

There are some who argue, that the impact of government union money is the significant factor in the divide of our political leaders.  Democrats push for higher taxes and larger government for they know that money will eventually be used to help their campaigns or assist in promoting their liberal agenda. Meanwhile Republicans, out of self-preservation will resist these measures for they don’t wish to assist their opponents.

If Boeing, Weyerhaeuser, Amazon, Starbucks, or Microsoft had this much influence on government policy our media would be filled with outrage and our streets would be clogged with protestors and sit-ins. (It is especially curious why this is not an on-going larger story in the media.)

So, where does all this money come from to buy the influence government unions has on our political process?  Most is obtained by the unions taking it directly out of government employee’s paychecks in the form of union dues. (Thus, taxpayers’ money is siphoned through government workers’ paychecks and then by law handed over to union bosses who then spend it to impact public policy.)  Often the worker has no say as to whether this money is taken from their salary.

This is why the Supreme Court’s decision in the Janus v AFSCME court case is so significant.  In their strongly worded decision, the Court ruled that taking money out of workers’ checks, without consent, to pay for political activities, was unconstitutional for it was “forced political speech.”   The Court supported the belief that a worker could not be forced to pay for political activities that they disagree with or don’t want to financially support.

How momentous will the impact be? No one knows for certain.  Over the next weeks, months, and years, government employees will be weighing whether it is in their best personal interest to keep supporting these activities of their unions. I am sure there will be much pressure from the union bosses to keep members from opting out for their desire is to keep their lucrative gravy train chugging down the track.

Financing of liberal organizations and activities will likely change. Some will likely rush to liberal Sugar Daddies like George Soros, Tom Steyer, or Nick Hanauer to make up the difference.  Some activities may have to cease. Whatever happens, one thing we know is this court decision is a positive step in the correct direction for those who believe in 1st Amendment rights and for a more even playing field in determining public policies.

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Jim Keough

Jim Keough

Jim Keough has been involved in Washington politics for 30 years working for Slade Gorton, Rob McKenna, Dino Rossi and others. He is a public affairs consultant and founding Board Member of both the Roanoke Conference and Northwest Republican Community Fund.