So what does it mean? What are the implications?
First off – at least until unions manage to seek clarification on the matter - non-paying members of a unit will still derive all the benefits mentioned above that paying members earned.
Another thing to recognize is that this decision pertains to public sector (government) unions; it will, undoubtedly, be expanded over time to encompass the private sector as well. However, the public sector is the largest component of today's labor movement at present (5 million workers), so the impact is significant.
Projections suggest that Janus will drive down wages and shrink the US economy by up to $33 billion. The estimates are based on actual figures in those 27 state economies that enacted so-called “Right to Work” laws. Those data show lower wages and weaker economies.
With Janus in force, it is foreseen that wages will drop approximately 4% over all and nearly 5.5% for public school teachers. African Americans will be disproportionately impacted, as they constitute a large segment of the union members affected by this decision.
The final thing that the Governance Geek™ has not seen others address yet is the compounded effect of Janus coupled with efforts by the administration to systematically weaken the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). These efforts have included slashing the Labor Department budget, proposing a “merger” between Labor and the Education Department (see June 22’s post: https://www.patreon.com/posts/trump-aims-to-of-19588171) and the planned closing of a number of regional offices, while stripping the remaining directors of their ability to investigate and resolve violations. Should these proposals become policy, the combined effect will set workers' rights back 100 years.
It doesn't have to be that way, though. Union members can continue to pay their dues and fund their unions' efforts to represent their members; as members will now have the ability to walk away at will, the unions, though, will have to "give them a reason" to stay. The recent teachers' strikes in several states this year are an example of what Labor can accomplish when they return to their proactive roots. Unions will need to de-emphasize lobbying and re-emphasize direct, collective action.
"Ten thousand times has the labor movement stumbled and fallen and bruised itself, and risen again; been seized by the throat and choked and clubbed into insensibility; enjoined by courts, assaulted by thugs, charged by the militia, shot down by regulars, traduced by the press, frowned upon by public opinion, deceived by politicians, threatened by priests, repudiated by renegades, preyed upon by grafters, infested by spies, deserted by cowards, betrayed by traitors, bled by leeches, and sold out by leaders, but notwithstanding all this, and all these, it is today the most vital and potential power this planet has ever known, and its historic mission of emancipating the workers of the world from the thraldom of the ages is as certain of ultimate realization as is the setting of the sun."
~ Eugene V. Debs
Out of the ashes, rises the phoenix...