Even though the Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, which freed public workers across the country from having to pay money to a union, will be two years old in 2020, the fight for worker freedom continues. While public sector workers have unprecedented freedom under Janus, private sector employees, lawyers, and others are still trapped into paying money to an organization they may never have wanted to support in the first place. The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation is proud to be at the front of several of these issues, with four cases in progress.
On Oct. 3, 2019, the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit on behalf of Michael Thulen, Michael Porter, and Terence Gaudlip, all of New Jersey. All three had been trapped in their union after the Janus decision, allowed to opt out only during a 10-day window every year. This narrow window was part of a law enacted by the New Jersey government to circumvent the Janus decision before it was handed down. In December, the case was dismissed because none of the plaintiffs had physical proof of being denied an opt-out. The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation is currently looking at the options for an appeal.
Last year the Legal Foundation also filed three additional lawsuits regarding New Jersey’s law, the Workplace Democracy Enhancement Act. Plantiffs Jody Lutter, Lisa Grega and Michael Kopie all filed separate cases, looking to leave their unions, but were blocked due to the window requirement. These three cases were filed after the Thulen, Porter and Gaudlip case was filed, and all of them are ongoing.
A little closer to home, the Legal Foundation is also continuing to fight for workers’ rights in Michigan. Even though the Great Lakes State has been right-to-work since 2012, not all employees are free to choose how to spend their money. Plaintiff Lucille Taylor, a practicing attorney in the state, has been forced by Michigan law to belong to, and pay money to, the State Bar of Michigan to keep her job. Even though the association’s beliefs do not always align with hers, she had no choice but to be a member. In August, a lawsuit was filed against the state bar with the intent of freeing lawyers within the state and setting a precedent for the nation.