The lead plaintiff in the Janus V AFSCME case, Mark Janus made a revealing decision shortly after the Supreme Court ruling. He retired and now is now a senior fellow at the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI). IPI is known as a right-wing, anti-worker think tank.
Starting this past August 1st Janus joins a network of right-wing think tanks that are using websites filled with misleading statements to try to convince public sector workers to drop their union affiliation.
For example, My Pay My Say emerged within hours of the Janus decision. The site sent emails to public sector employees to drop their union membership to save money.
My Pay, My Say is funded by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a Michigan based right-wing think tank.
According to the New York Times, The Mackinac Center has opened a national call center to target public employees to opt out of their union along with on the ground canvassing.
The Mackinac Center is funded by the Koch, Devos and the Bradley Foundations. In particular, the Bradley Foundation was a significant supporter of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker while also fighting to privatize public services.
A website targeting Minnesota teachers Educated Teachers offers sample letters and instructions for opting out of their unions as well as tips, and even reminders, of upcoming opt-out window deadlines. The site is backed by Conservative think tank Center of the American Experiment (CAE). CAE is a member of the Koch Brothers-backed State Policy Network and has supported efforts to pass right-to-work legislation in Minnesota.
At the bottom of the site, it further explains,
“The resources, tools, research, and statements on this website are offered for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or consultation for your particular situation. The information we have compiled on this site is based upon publicly available data as of June 27, 2018, and is subject to change at any time. Center of the American Experiment and EducatedTeachersMN do not warrant or guarantee its accuracy.”
Similar think tanks and efforts have launched all over the country.
In response to Janus states like California and New Jersey have passed legislation that guarantees public-sector unions access to new hires and their personal contact information to help in organizing efforts. Furthermore, there is greater interest and support of unions. A Gallup poll last summer showed labor’s approval at its highest level since 2003.
Unions themselves have been preparing for years with increased organizing efforts. However, it remains a tenuous time for unions, filled with expansive threats and also possibilities.
All of the major statewide teachers’ strikes in 2018 were not legal, and all of them ended with significant gains for teachers. Like the Roman god, the aftermath of Janus has two faces. Complacency (and reliance on the courts) will be the death of us. Organizing will be a new beginning.