Fox & Friends hosts and Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano lied about how public sector union fair-share fees, also known as agency fees, are used in their coverage of oral arguments for the Supreme Court case Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, also known as Janus v. AFSCME.
Workers in unionized workplaces who choose not to join the union but still are protected by the contract the union is legally required to negotiate for them are required to pay these fees to compensate for the union’s work on their behalf. These fees are separate from union members’ full dues that can go toward unions’ political activities, which workers who opt out of the union are not required to pay. But Fox & Friends repeatedly and falsely claimed that these agency fees are still being used “for political causes” and collective bargaining with a “political spin.”
The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of this distinction between fair-share fees and public sector union membership dues in a long-standing ruling on the 1977 case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. Conservative media, including both Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade and Fox’s Napolitano, previously lied about this issue following a 4-4 decision in the similar Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case in 2016.
From the February 27 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
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BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): So judge, I could argue that this is the biggest story that’s not getting nearly enough attention. The Supreme Court heard arguments on whether a union can automatically demand fees from an employee that they represent.
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): Government union.
ANDREW NAPOLITANO: A government union no less. So you go to work for the government of the state of Illinois. You're a social worker. They force you to join a union. You don't want to join. They force you to pay dues. You don't want to pay dues. They use your dues for political causes you don't believe in. How many rights have been violated? Your freedom of association has been violated because the freedom of association means you have the freedom not to associate. And your freedom of speech has been violated because they’ve taken your money and spent it on a political cause with which you disagree.
KILMEADE: Almost all Democratic causes, too.
NAPOLITANO: Correct. If the unions lose, and I think they will, this will radically shrink membership in government unions, which will radically shrink the pool of cash available for the unions to give to their favorite Democratic candidates.
AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): Yeah, Mark Janus lives in one of these states that's affected, and he was looking at his paycheck and he said union dues, I don't want to be a part of this union, yet they're making me pay.
DOOCY: I'm not in the union.
EARHARDT: I'm not in the union. Why am I paying for it?
NAPOLITANO: I'll make the union argument for you. The union argument is we do the collective bargaining. We do provide them a service. A lot of benefits --
EARHARDT: With a political spin, though.
NAPOLITANO: Right. A lot of the benefits that they get are because of what we’ve negotiated.
NAPOLITANO: But I think the fundamental right not to associate with a group trumps that union argument. I think the Supreme Court is going to agree.
EARHARDT: You should be able to have a choice.