On June 27, 2018, the United States Supreme Court, in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 (“Janus”), held that public sector labor unions may no longer collect fees for the cost of collective bargaining (known as agency fees) from employees who have chosen not to join the union. By a 5-4 majority, the Court declared that a union's extraction of agency fees from non-union member employees violates the free speech rights of those employees, in violation of the First Amendment, by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern. In so holding, the Court expressly overruled its long-standing decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977) (“Abood”).
Given that New York is among those states that has, until now, mandated the collection of agency fees from non-member public sector employees, this decision has a significant and immediate impact. By virtue of the Janus decision, public sector unions are no longer entitled to the compulsory collection of agency fees, and public sector employers are no longer authorized to automatically deduct such fees from the paychecks of non-member employees.