Liberal profs livid over 'Janus' ruling

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is condemning the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn a law requiring non-union employees to pay “fair share” fees.

The ruling in Janus v. AFSCME ends the practice of charging “fair share” fees to non-union workers who are covered the collective bargaining agreements negotiated by their respective public sector unions. 

Union leaders had argued that the fees were necessary to prevent “free riders” from taking advantage of union benefits without paying membership dues, but the plaintiffs in the Janus case successfully argued that the practice amounted to forced speech and association in violation of the First Amendment.

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The AAUP, a national organization that represents college faculty members, declared in a press release that the decision is a “broad assault on public institutions and the common good,” saying that while it is unlikely to affect many college faculty members directly, it could complicate the efforts of AAUP chapters that function as labor unions.

The statement, written by AAUP President Rudy Fichtenbaum, argues the decision will “roll back protections for working people, lessen public support for civic building blocks such as education, and diminish the ability of unions to have a positive impact.”

Noting that “AAUP chapters that have been formally recognized as unions take [our] advocacy a step farther, by negotiating legally enforceable contracts that incorporate AAUP principles,” Fichtenbaum asserts that the ruling “makes their job more difficult.”

“We will continue to say, loudly and clearly, that strong universities and well-educated citizens are essential to our survival as a democracy,” the statement continues. “That’s why our work as educators, union members, and advocates has never been more important than it is now.”

“In the face of such challenges, collective power is deeply important,” Fichtenbaum concludes, remarking that now is “a great moment to join the AAUP as an advocacy member.”

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The AAUP’s position on Janus is consistent with it overall liberal leanings, which previously induced the organization to issue a statement condemning President Trump’s “travel ban” executive order.

That statement, which was AAUP’s eighth condemnation of Trump Administration policies within the first three months of 2017, also encouraged professors to display signs on their office doors declaring that “when you ban people, you threaten academic freedom.”

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