Terence Gaudlip and Michael Thulen
On Oct. 3, 2018, the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation filed suit on behalf of three Lakewood, New Jersey, city employees who seek the right to end their financial obligation to a public sector union at any time. Michael Thulen, Michael Porter, and Terence Gaudlip sued AFSMCE and various New Jersey state officials so as to overturn a provision in a law the union’s allies in New Jersey passed to limit the impact of the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision.
In that case, the Supreme Court held that public sector employees did not have to provide financial support to unions that the employees were not members of. Nationally, there are 5 million public sector employees directly affected by this decision, which could eventually cost public sector unions over $600 million annually. Anticipating this ruling, legislative allies of New Jersey’s unions wasted no time trying to protect union finances by enacting the Workplace Democracy Enhancement Act on May 18, 2018. In part, this law limits to 10 days a year the time when public employees could end financial support to a union. It is meant to make it harder for current union members to become nonmembers and therefore clearly be protected by the Janus decision.
This case arose, in part, due to the Mackinac Center’s campaign, My Pay My Say, and its work in New Jersey. Having learned many lessons in union tactics when Michigan went right-to-work in late 2012, the Mackinac Center has sought to assist other states in informing their public sector workers of their rights under Janus and protecting those same rights in court where necessary. One major ally has been Americans for Prosperity Foundation-New Jersey. Together, we have sought to aid the over-300,000 public sector workers affected by Janus in the Garden State.
Thulen is a former union leader for his local, and when this case was filed, he said “As someone who has personally committed my time and energy to stewarding my local union, I fully believe that unions can play a positive role in the workplace. We are simply asking that our labor leaders spend more time serving their members in that capacity rather than erecting arbitrary barriers meant to hold us hostage.”
The case was assigned to the federal district court in Camden, New Jersey.