I enjoy reading George Will although, as a union member and local teachers union president, I am occasionally at odds with his perspectives.
His viewpoints are usually well-reasoned and supported by historical evidence consistent with his argument. However, his recent op-ed on the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in the case, Janus v. AFSCME, contains an erroneous historical analogy.
The free speech argument used by the court as the basis of overturning fair share fees is debatable, but Will’s equating of Janus to 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education portrays a harmful misunderstanding of the degree of oppression inherent in the processes he compares.
The separate but equal doctrine overturned in Brown involved a degree of inequality and racial injustice that is completely incomparable to the financial cost of unions expecting employees who benefit from collective bargaining to contribute to the cost of negotiating and maintaining the benefits derived through those activities.
Union members earn economic and workplace benefits commensurate with the important work they do supporting our communal institutions.
In the case of public education, teachers provide a sound education to all Americans regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, gender, sexual orientation or economic status.
Earl Warren’s opinion for a unanimous court in Brown accurately describes the impact of segregation in public education as creating “a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone.”
Comparing segregation to the expectation that employees served by the collective bargaining process be asked to contribute to the cost of its operation grossly distorts the impact of fair-share fees and willfully neglects the positive impact of the work done on a daily basis by public employees in contributing to the betterment of our communities and nation.