One year ago, in June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a long-overdue ruling that benefited public sector workers across the country. It said they cannot be forced to join or financially support a labor union in order to hold a job. This decision freed millions of teachers, bus drivers, state employees, local government workers, police officers, firemen and others —anyone who is employed by a public entity.
In other words, right-to-work went nationwide.
In 2012, Michigan became a right-to-work state. Since then, the Mackinac Center has fought to expand worker rights in the courtroom and through the Legislature. We’ve also informed hundreds of thousands of workers here in Michigan about those rights. Over the years, more than 100,000 workers have made the decision to leave their union.
When the high court announced its ruling in Janus, the Mackinac Center was ready. We launched an advertising, informational and legal campaign to help expand worker freedom nationwide. One year later, we’ve reached hundreds of thousands of public employees, partnered in more than a dozen states and launched a number of lawsuits.
To celebrate these efforts and the anniversary of the court decision, the Mackinac Center co-hosted an all-day event in California. Our partners included the California Policy Center, Liberty Justice Center, National Review Institute and Reform California. Mark Janus, the plaintiff in the historic case, was a notable participant, as was former California Gov. Pete Wilson.
The celebration featured several panels of experts, politicians and public employees who have made the decision to leave their union. Staffers from the Mackinac Center discussed our legal work leading up to the Janus case. They also talked about our efforts to inform public employees of their renewed rights, the ongoing legal fight (with dozens of new lawsuits) and the effects on union membership so far.
Los Angeles has one of the highest concentrations of union workers in the country. It’s the largest county in America and has the nation’s second-largest school district. For that reason, it has been a focal point of our efforts to inform workers of their rights. We’ve reached tens of thousands of government union members through digital advertising, mail, phone calls and door knocking. This effort was on display at the anniversary event, with a room full of workers and volunteers making phone calls.
California is home to about 1.3 million public sector workers, and government unions there take in around a billion dollars of dues every single year, making the state ground zero in the fight over Janus rights. Its public sector unions are pushing legislation to prevent workers from leaving their union and restrict their ability to learn about their rights. This activity keeps the money flowing from government workers to politicians, political groups and ballot proposals.
The fight for worker freedom doesn’t stop at Michigan’s border. So, while the Mackinac Center continues the work in our home state, we’re also working across the country.