What happens now? FAQs on the impact of Janus v. AFSCME
This article is part of Free to Teach’s “Knowing Your Rights and Union Alternatives” booklet, which is available in its entirety here.
Q. I’m an agency fee payer—how do I get my school district or
A. Administrative units are already giving out instructions to halt such payroll deductions. For example, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association has issued several alerts to this effect, including this one from June 27, 2018, which notes:
‘all collection of the fees from non-members of unions must cease immediately….after taking the necessary steps to suspend payroll collections of the fees, school employers should immediately initiate communication with the fee-payers and affected unions to inform them of the employer’s actions and discuss further steps regarding fees collected but not yet turned over to the unions, and the refund of any “front-loaded” fees already collected but attributable to future pay periods.’
If you have concerns about unions continuing to charge agency fees, please contact your human resources/payroll department and ask that your administrative personnel stop all such deductions immediately.
Q. I am a current union member but would like to resign my membership and leave my union. What do I need to do?
A. Americans for Fair Treatment has a fillable form that allows for you to select your Pennsylvania union from a drop-down menu. Once the form is filled out, the page will generate a resignation letter for you to mail to your union. You should be able to submit your resignation immediately.
Q. If I resign from my union, will I lose my benefits?
A. No. Unions, by law, represent every worker in a bargaining unit. That means they are the only ones authorized to negotiate pay and benefits. Therefore, whatever compensation is in your contract is yours whether you are a union member or not.
Q. What if my union denies my resignation and says that I failed to leave during the window designated in my collective bargaining agreement or membership form?
A. This may happen because Pennsylvania state law authorizes such “maintenance of membership” (MOM) windows, which prescribe a certain period wherein you may resign from your union. It is usually a two-week period at the end of your multi-year contract. However, if you encounter a refusal, do not give up. Please contact Americans for Fair Treatment at 833-969-FAIR (3247) or info@AmericansForFairTreatment.org. We can assist with getting your resignation accepted outside the MOM window.
Q. I am a teacher who would like to leave my union, but I am worried about not having liability insurance coverage in case I am sued over a workplace incident. What should I do?
A. Liability protection for teachers begins with state law. Pennsylvania’s Political Subdivision Tort Claims
School districts purchase General Liability coverage to protect teachers for actions performed in their scope of duties. For example, the roughly 40 Pennsylvania school districts insured by Willis, a major insurance provider for schools, offer coverage for bodily injury including corporal punishment, property damage, libel, slander, invasion of privacy, and sexual abuse, according to Willis Executive Vice President Reid Sandner.
According to education law expert Michael Levin, school district General Liability policies are fairly standardized, and nearly all districts carry Errors & Omission policies, which vary. Errors & Omissions coverage provides for wrongful acts such as neglect, misleading statements or omission, and civil rights claims such as discrimination, employment-related claims, and failure to educate.
Most district plans also cover legal fees associated with legal claims against teachers. Check with your local district for specific coverage information.
Generally speaking, only teachers who intend to commit a crime or carry out intentional wrongdoing should seek additional union liability insurance. Even so, the liability insurance provided under
Department and office-wide liability insurance policies are also available for police, firefighters, and other government employees. Check with your employer for the terms of coverage.
Q. If I’m not a union member, and I encounter professional threats, unfair treatment or intimidation from my school administration or
Despite Janus v. AFSCME, unions are still required by law to represent all workers—members and non-members—in a collective bargaining unit. In the case of a grievance, your union must still provide representation
Q. Because of the Janus ruling, my union has asked me to sign a re-commitment card. What should I do?
A. Unions may no longer charge non-members agency fees following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCMEon June 27, 2018. As such, unions are now trying to shore up their membership rolls. They are asking current union members to sign re-commitment