On June 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that states cannot require public sector employees to pay union fees. Specifically, in its 5-4 ruling, the Court decided that the involuntary payment of agency shop fees by non-members of a union is unconstitutional because it violates the free speech rights of those employees.
While the Janus decision invalidated any involuntary fees collected by unions from non-members covered by a collective negotiations agreement, the Court stated that agency shop fees may be deducted if the non-member consents to pay. To satisfy this requirement, the non-member must “clearly and affirmatively” consent before any money is taken from them.
New Jersey Law
In New Jersey, if a majority of employees in a negotiations unit vote to be represented by a union, the union then becomes the exclusive representative of all employees covered by that collective negotiations agreement.
This would include employees who choose to be members of the union as well as those employees who are part of the collective negotiations unit due to their titles, but who choose not to be union members.
Non-members who are covered by a Recognition Clause in a collective negotiations agreement are entitled to the benefits of that collective negotiations agreement, including wages, benefits and other negotiated terms and conditions of employment.
N.J.S.A. [34:13]A:5-5 to 5.8 of the Employer-Employee Relations Act governs the payment of “agency shop fees”, or representation fee in lieu of dues in New Jersey. Prior to the Janus decision, New Jersey public sector employees who chose not to be union members paid a fee known as an “agency shop fee” that was deducted from their pay and paid to the union.
What Should New Jersey Public Employers Do?
In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus, New Jersey public employers should immediately cease the payroll deductions of “agency shop fees” or representation fees in lieu of dues from all its employees covered by a collective negotiations agreement who choose not to be members of a union.
It would be advisable for public employers to notify union leadership that the fee deductions will cease immediately.
It is also recommended that public employers require employees who clearly and affirmatively consent to the deduction of agency shop or representation fees to sign a written consent form.
The information on this website is intended as general legal information only and should not form the basis of legal advice of any kind. Individuals seeking specific legal advice should consult a lawyer.