On June 27, 2018, the United States Supreme Court ruled on the Janus v. American Federation of County, State Municipal Employees. In a 5-4 decision, the court limited the collective bargaining rights of public-sector unions by declaring they will no longer be able to collect “fair share” or “agency fees” from employees who do not join the union but who still benefit from union-negotiated protections. These fees are used to cover the cost of collective bargaining that benefits all workers.
This decision stands to affect the power of public school teachers, professional support staff, faculty in higher education, and other public workers to determine the terms and conditions of their employment and the quality of the educational experience for their students. Educators have used collective bargaining to combat budget cuts in school districts and to demand that students receive the resources they deserve.
This decision has the potential to negatively impact recruitment of teachers and students in teacher education programs, which already have been experiencing lower enrollment for a host of reasons including cost of higher education, attitudes toward the teaching profession, and increased accountability measures like the edTPA.
Educators at the P-12 and higher education levels would be wise to follow the news about this Supreme Court decision to become more aware of the impact it will have on their professional lives.