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Catholic bishops against Mark Janus

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“On February 26 the US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME),” says Charles W. Baird in this week’s Acton Commentary. “At issue is whether forcing government employees to pay for the collective bargaining activities of unions that represent them violates their First Amendment rights. On January 19 the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) filed an amicus brief with the Court in which they took the side of AFSCME against Mark Janus.”

I am a Catholic, but I find no logically compelling arguments in the bishops’ brief. To the contrary, I think their arguments fail mainly because they do not understand many of the implications of the key principle of American unionism – exclusive representation – especially in the government sector.

Under American labor law a union is certified as the exclusive bargaining agent of a group of workers by a majority vote of those workers. “Exclusive” means that the union represents all workers who were eligible to vote no matter how they voted or whether they voted. No one else, no other union or even the individual workers themselves, can have any voice in the collective bargaining process.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton Commentary and other publications by entering your email into the Acton Newsletter box in the sidebar.

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Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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