Workers For Opportunity Labor Expert Testifies In Support of Kansas Bill To Protect Employee First Amendment Rights
On March 18, Workers for Opportunity labor policy expert Vinnie Vernuccio testified before the Kansas State Senate Committee on Assessment and Taxation in support of workers’ First Amendment freedoms. Kansas Senate Bill 175 (SB175) would ensure public employees are informed about their First Amendment right not to pay union dues or fees and further allows them to exercise this right at any time during employment. This freedom was restored last year in Janus v. AFSCME, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public labor unions were violating employees’ First Amendment freedoms of speech and association by forcing them to pay union fees as a condition of employment.
During his testimony, Vernuccio stated: "If a public employee chooses to exercise their right, the state, school district or local government should immediately stop collecting dues and inform the union. The public employee's financial obligation to the union should end immediately and no debt should be allowed to accrue."
The Janus ruling essentially brought right-to-work to over 5 million public employees across the country. Justice Alito’s majority opinion in the case also asserted that government unions must get "affirmative consent" from public employees before collecting any dues or fees from employee paychecks. Since the ruling, Vernuccio says government unions have pressured lawmakers in several states to pass laws to circumvent the Janus decision. These efforts have resulted in the passage of complicated and arbitrary restrictions, or “windows”, that limit when public employees may resign their union membership and stop paying dues. SB175 seeks to eliminate these barriers and ensure that the Janus rights restored to Kansas public employees are honored and respected.
Workers for Opportunity, a project of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, is a national initiative that works with state and national allies, lawmakers, administrations and other stakeholders to advance meaningful and forward-thinking labor reform policies across the states that expand workplace freedom.