Seeking to build on the Supreme Court’s pro-worker ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, the Mackinac Center launched the Workers for Opportunity initiative in February. The goal of this project, which reaches both union members and public officials, is to reduce the perverse influence of government unions in labor relations in various states. It’s carried out by a team of experts in public policy, communications, government affairs and law. This spring, they met with officials in various states about ways they could secure workers’ First Amendment rights, which the Supreme Court affirmed and restored last summer.
They identified key policies that lawmakers and administrators can use to keep the pendulum swinging toward greater employee freedom, whether in a state with compulsory union fees or one with a right-to-work law. And just months following the launch of this ambitious initiative, Workers for Opportunity is already having an impact.
In three states, we are educating governors and their administrations about what can be done to ensure that public employers don’t deduct union dues or fees until they have proof of affirmative consent from employees.
Many states impose opt-out window policies, which say that public employees can leave a union (and stop paying dues to it) only during a short time period, such as one week a year. In Kansas, the Workers for Opportunity team worked with allies on the ground to introduce legislation giving workers the right to opt out at any time. Two members of our staff joined the Kansas Policy Institute and Mark Janus to provide testimony on the merits of the legislation, and we continue to assist in the education effort as lawmakers consider the proposal.
We worked with the Pelican Institute and other allies in Louisiana to introduce legislation requiring union certification. Also known as workers’ voting rights, a certification requirement means that government unions must stand for reelection ever two years. In this case, the legislation is made even stronger by a provision that gives public employers the freedom to not negotiate with a public union — even if it has obtained the consent of a majority of employees.
In another three states, Workers for Opportunity is advising and supporting efforts to pass, implement, or strengthen laws on workers’ voting rights.
In total, our team has held discussions with administrations, lawmakers, and others in over 12 states — some right-to-work and some not — to educate officials about how the Janus ruling effects state policymaking. We look forward to seeing these activities lead to stronger protections for worker freedom that recognize and respect employees’ First Amendment rights.