Janus Decision FAQs


This week the United States Supreme Court is anticipated to release its decision on one of the most significant cases of this term: Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which challenges the constitutionality of requiring public employees to pay agency fees to an exclusive representative as a condition of employment. The decision will have a major nationwide impact on unions’ abilities to participate in collective bargaining and contract enforcement.

Meanwhile, the California Legislature’s recent Senate Bill 866, a budget trailer bill that addresses payroll deduction of dues, mass communications to employees, and employee orientations, will soon be signed into law. Between the Janus case and the budget trailer bill, public employers may find themselves confused as they sort through a mountain of new information.

As part of an ACSA alliance, Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo has compiled an FAQ to help your organization with the initial questions arising from these two major changes in the law.


Q: Why haven’t I heard about SB 866?

A: SB 866 was amended at the last minute as a budget trailer bill allowing it to be fast-tracked through the legislature and to the Governor.

Q: When does SB 866 take effect?

A: Because SB 866 is a budget trailer bill, it will become law as soon as the Governor signs the bill.

Q: Does the new legislation override the Janus decision?

A: Janus is examining required union dues, while the legislation provides for employee written authorization to collect dues. Since the Court has not issued its Janus decision, we are unsure how the new legislation will be impacted.

 Q: Does SB 866 impact a public employer’s ability to communicate with employees about the Janus decision?

A: Yes. Any “mass communication” you send to your employees or applicants concerning their rights to join/support or refrain from joining/supporting their union requires a meet and confer process with the applicable union. If agreement cannot be reached on the contents of the communication, the employer may send out the mass communication but must also distribute at the same time the union’s own mass communication to public employees. Any mass communication concerning the Janus decision will likely fall within this provision and requires the parties to attempt to craft a mutually agreeable content, or follow the alternate process of distributing two sets of mass communication: one from the employer and one from the union. Please keep in mind, this provision will have a significant impact on public employer mass communications beyond discussion of the Janus decision.

Q: What can/should/cannot we say to employees about Janus and SB 866?

A: It is critically important that Board Members and administrators, as representatives of the school district, be aware of the limitations SB 866 places on communications regarding union participation and tailor any comments or responses to questions accordingly. If an employee asks you questions about the Janus case, the recent legislation, or whether to join or stay in the union, we strongly recommend that you refer them to their labor organization for answers to those questions. We also recommend that you be mindful of any comments that you may make that could be construed as deterring or discouraging union participation.

To read the full FAQ, please click here.


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