PA Senate Majority Policy Committee held hearing on U.S. Supreme Court public sector union decision

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The Pennslyvania Senate Majority Policy Committee recently held a hearing on the recently decided U.S. Supreme Court case Janus v American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees (AFSCME) to gather information about the decision’s impact on public employee unions and potential state legislative responses.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Illinois public employee Mark Janus in the case. The decision overturned the 1977 ruling in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education in which the Court ruled that public sector unions can require nonunion employees to fund union activities related to “collective bargaining.” The Janus decision means that nonunion members may no longer be forced to fund political advocacy.

Sen. John H. Eichelberger, Jr. (R-30) requested the Pennslyvania Senate Majority Policy Committee hearing. Eichelberger recently introduced legislation that would implement reforms to provide notification for public employees who are part of a collective bargaining unit.

“It was important for members of the legislature and the general public to hear about the broad implications of the decision by the United States Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME,” Eichelberger said. “As we learned in today’s hearing, many public employees in Pennsylvania are unaware that their First Amendment rights are being violated.”

Bill Bennett, who serves as Chairman of the Conservative Leaders for Education and served as President Reagan’s Secretary of Education, testified at the hearing.

“[The] Janus [decision] could be a critical turning point for our schools and the profession of teaching if the right decisions are made going forward,” Bennett said.

Vincent Vernuccio, a senior fellow at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy; Terrence Pell, president of the Center for Individual Rights; David R. Osborne, president and general counsel of The Fairness Center; and Greg Hartnett, a public school teacher at the Homer-Center School District in Indiana County, also testified.