Jon Holtzman, Renne Public Law Group (RPLG) Partner, participated in a panel discussion on the Janus v. AFSCME (Janus) decision Wednesday, August 15. He was joined by Ken Jacobs, Chair of the UC Berkeley Labor Center and Laura Juran, Chief Counsel of the California Teachers Association. Peder Thoreen of Altshuler Berzon LLP moderated the discussion.
Hosted at the Bar Association of San Francisco, the hour-long panel covered the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overrule settled precedent that permitted unions to charge non-members “agency fees” to support unions’ collective bargaining activities. The speakers discussed what Janus means in the context of related legal doctrines involving employee speech, as well as their concerns regarding the effects of Janus on the collective bargaining process.
Holtzman expressed concern that some unions may feel the need to move into “full-time organizing mode” in order to recruit new members. This could likely take the form of additional confrontations with management, and perhaps more strikes, in the hope that hostility toward employers could be a unifying theme.
The panel also extensively discussed new state legislation adopted to counter the effect of Janus, including SB 866, AB 119, SB 285, and SB 1085. These bills, among other things: prohibit public employers from expressing a view on whether employees should join a union; require public employers to give unions the home address and mobile phone numbers of employees; require public employers to set aside time for unions to make presentations at new employee orientations; require employers to meet and confer over mass communications regarding union membership; and provide time off for union stewards without loss of pay.
Holtzman expressed concern that these bills may impinge on an employer’s traditional right to free speech, are administratively burdensome, and may lead to public employers funding union activities.
RPLG recently published a deep dive into the Janus decision, which takes a look at the ruling and how it may trigger other obligations under California state law.
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